Friday, December 9, 2011

Giving (and my first giveaway, sort of)

One of the things I was overwhelmed with on Eliza's birthday was how many people made donations to worthy causes in memory of our Baby Duck, or performed other acts of kindness.  Every single one of those made me cry tears of love and gratitude.  Our baby girl was with us such a short time, and it's truly an honor to see the way her life and our love for her can still make a difference in the world.

Here's a list of causes that received donations in memory of Eliza over the past year:

* Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support (if you haven't watched the video on this website, take 10 minutes.  It's beautiful.)

* Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep - photography service

* Ethiopian Orphan Relief (in particular, Children's Heaven, a service for little girls who have lost their parents to AIDS)

* Heifer, International (a flock of ducks and a hive of honeybees)

* Nothing But Nets - provides mosquito netting to families in Africa to prevent malaria

* The First Book Program in St. Louis - (a donation of Alice in Wonderland)

* Make a Wish foundation

* local food bank - diaper donation

* Blessings in a Backpack - providing food on weekends to kids who need it

* March of Dimes

* The Snyder Twins -much loved and wanted babies, whose mother died unexpectedly from c-section complications

We are so honored to have Eliza's name associated with these good causes, and we appreciate your kindness and generosity more than I can ever say.  We also appreciate the prayers, memorials, and kind gestures--no matter how large or small--that were performed in honor of our baby girl.  It is so bittersweet to see the way she is still loved and missed.

David and I also wanted to make a donation in Eliza's name, but I hadn't decided on exactly what charity or organization we were going to contribute to this year.  There are so many, and they do such good work, and I wanted it to be something special.

Some of my favorite charities that we've donated to in the past include the Humane Society, St. Jude's Hospital, ALS research (in memory of our friend Curt's dad), Cystic Fibrosis research (in memory of my friend Jamie's cousin Megan), and the American Cancer Society (in memory of my Gpa Vance, and in honor of David's grandpa).

All of those causes are close to my heart, but I guess I wanted to find something different this year, something that would sort of speak to me and feel like the "right" place to put a little extra cash.  I guess I wanted something different, and something that felt tangible, you know what I mean?  I love the idea of participating in Christmas projects like toys for tots or shopping for a child in need, but I'm just not quite ready to buy clothes and toys for little ones...  Maybe next year.

Anyway, Eliza's birthday went by, and I still hadn't come up with the "perfect" organization.

Today I got an e-mail from a PEO sister who is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Georgia (that would be the country, not the state).  She is currently working on a project to expand a day care center and school.  Here's what she writes:

Background Info on This Project: This center is run by the NGO I'm working with in Georgia and provides transportation, medical care, 2 meals daily, educational and vocational services to low-income children (and that's saying a LOT here).  It's really an impressive center ...even by American standards and especially when you compare it to the "regular" schools in Georgia which are pretty horrific!  We're trying to expand the center but need to renovate a room.   If we expand we can add 4 more children that are currently "wait listed" to attend the center as well as provide separate rooms for older and younger children.  All donations go directly to the project.  I'm the one overseeing it so I submitted the budget and will be responsible for completion of the project.  There are NO administrative costs and all donations are tax deductible.  Any amount can help!!

We needed about $3500 and already have over $2100 in only 2 weeks ... over 1/2 way there.  You have no idea how much difference this will make in the lives of these children and their families!!!  If you you can give anything ... PLEASE DO!!!  We'd love to get this funded ASAP.  Once the project is fully funded it's removed from the Peace Corps website

That was it.  That was this year's Eliza Gift.  I made a donation this morning.

And it made me feel so good that I want to do something more.  We may be skipping the festivities of Christmas this year, but it feels right to honor the true spirit of the season by giving to those in need.  So I want you to tell me what charities or organizations inspire you with the work they do, and I'll make another donation before Christmas.

(This idea was also inspired by Tiffany, who is doing a similar giveaway on her blog this month in memory of her baby boy, Julius.  I hate to be a copycat, but I also figure when it comes to stuff like this, it's not like you can do TOO MANY good things, right?)

So (here's where things get THRILLING), please leave a comment with the name of your favorite, well-deserving charity, and the name of the person or persons you'd like to honor/remember (if you don't have someone in mind, then you can just name Eliza).  Anyone can comment!  I'll leave the post open until December 15th and then I'll select (RANDOMLY) from the suggestions and make a $25 donation to the charity of the winner's choice, in honor or memory of whomever he/she suggests.

Thank you all for abiding with us this year, and for performing a true act of kindness every time you reached out to David and me in comments, e-mails, phone calls, thoughts, and prayers.  We'd never be able to pay enough to equal all the love we've received, but we want to give back a little something.


  1. copycat?! please! girl like you said, "it's not like you can do too many good things." i wish more people would get back to what this holiday season REALLY means. instead of all of the consumerism and insanity that it has become. and plus, i'm not the 1st person to do a giveaway like that. i'm think it's so beautiful that Eliza lead you in this direction.

    there really are so many wonderful organizations. but i think i would make a donation to First Candle if i won. in memory, of course, of my beautiful amazing son, Julius, and all of the precious souls whose lives were far far too short.

    thank you for doing this.

  2. You're both incredible, incredible people. You and Tiffany, but also you and David.

    What a sweet idea and way to honor your babies even more. I can't compete with your amazing words.

    Honestly, I don't care if I win or not. As this isn't for personal gain but to help others in honor of Eliza and all the other babies gone too soon from our arms.

    So if I do, go with your heart. Because mine if conflicted. I would want each and every one to receive the gift.

  3. I love this. Years ago my mom and her close friends stopped giving each other birthday gifts and instead the birthday girl picks a charity and they all donate to that charity. There is just something so wonderful about the act of giving. And the best part, is it's contagious.

    I would have to pick PAWS Humane ( for my favorite charity. Obviously I have a soft spot for Baby Loss charities, but since we didn't know about NILMDTS until after Cale, we didn't benefit personally from their wonderful service (but oh how I wish we did!) Anyway, as trivial as this may seem, one charity we have benefited from is PAWS - it's where we adopted our loveable hellion Roscoe. Who has been with us through the good and bad. THANK GOD FOR DOGS.

    Who would I like to remember? Why Cale and Eliza and ALL of those amazing babies who have enriched my life for the better simply by being them.

  4. The Stillbirth Foundation in Australia. They do amazing work and I haven't come across another organisation like them.
    In honour of Hope and Eliza.

  5. Vernon County (MO) People for Pets is dear to my heart. The were organized several years ago by some hard working animal lovers. They have a website where you can "meet" dogs and cats and find a good match for your family. They have placed hundreds of dogs and cats with new homes. They always have a booth at community events with some of their pets there to meet. They are a well-deserving charity and I know Eliza would have been an animal lover like her grandma!

  6. I would pick the Trisomy 18 Foundation ( in honor of my daughter Libby and her best friend who is buried next to her, Kellyann.

  7. We chose to give money to Save the Children ever year to honor our son Ben. It makes us feel good knowing that somewhere in the world, a child is getting a chance at life, that maybe some other set of parents won't go through the heartbreak we went through because of our donation. Nothing could save Ben, but maybe we can save somebody else.

    What a lovely idea...thank you.

  8. I choose the International Rett Syndrome Foundation in my sister Kelly's name.

  9. We make an annual donation to Green Lake Area Animal Shelter in WI in honor of our beloved dog Lily. They are a small shelter and do a lot of great work rescuing puppy mill dogs.

    This is such a great idea Brooke! It's wonderful to read about all the ways that people are giving this season.

  10. We make donations to the Winnipeg Humane Society in Sam's name every year - it's a great organization and one that I associate with Sam.

  11. We started a fund at our church called Carter's Cause. Here's some info on it.

    After Carter was buried, and his memorial stone placed, it became very noticeable that the babies buried on either side of him were not going to have stones to mark their graves.

    Not long after Carter’s passing, a little boy who was also born still, was laid to rest in the grave next to Carter. Our family has had the wonderful opportunity to meet this little boy’s family and we have since become friends. The family of this child had just moved to Wyoming in June of 2009, knew essentially no one, and was just trying to make ends meet in their day to day lives. Through the tragedy of losing their son they have not only had to think about rebuilding their lives after losing a child and paying mountains of doctor bills, they also have to visit their son in the cemetery where his final resting place lacks a permanent marker.

    Carter’s Cause is a ministry established to provide permanent memorials for little ones who would otherwise have none. By doing so, we will provide those families with some sense of closure and ultimately, peace.

  12. We give to the Ronald McDonald House in Portland, OR, every year at this time. If you have to travel for medical care, it's pretty amazing to be able to find not only affordable room and board, but truly caring and helpful staff & a community of other parents and families who have some idea of what you're going through.

  13. We sponsor an 8 year old boy living in Southern Ethiopia through Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC.ORG). Ezra is from Southern Ethiopia so I like that our sponsor boy is from the same area. FOVC is located in a very poor and rural part of the region. I am pretty sure they don't even have a clean water source. Most of the children in their care are sick with TB or Malaria or AIDS or all of the above. The sponsorship money helps provide for his education, medical care and food. They need all the help they can get. So I pick FOVC in memory of Eliza.

    This is a great idea!! Love it!!

  14. So many great charities, I always feel guilty/selfish for entering these! lol

    I will say the Pre-Eclampsia Foundation, which is working on a cure/treatment for pre-e and also predictive tests and education. Every year, 76,000 women and 500,000 babies die as a result of pre-e. I am very thankful (and lucky) not to have been one of the 76k, but sadly Olivia was one of those 500,000. Way too many people dying due to this disease. :(

  15. Glad you extended this, I have been a bad blogger lately! I love the TEARS foundation. They help families with funeral expenses after losing a baby. They also provide monthly meetings and other forms of support. They are in the process to expanding to multiple states.
    It was started by a mom like us and has just grown and grown. This was a great idea you had! Any of these charities would be great!

  16. The shriners. My husband had to use them many times growin gup and they are def. a worthy cause to donate too.
    In memory of Eliza of course.

  17. You are a lovely person with a "ginormous" heart.

    If I win, I vote SickKids. :)

  18. This inspires me to give more charitable gifts in honor of Elizabeth and others this holiday season - thank you!

    I was really taken with the mission of a new organization called The Girl Effect. I guess little girls' futures seem extra-dear to me now.

  19. So many great charities listed here already, I feel guilty renaming my favorite - because you know it and have donated to it already - but I will, just the same:
    Friends of the Oakland Animal Shelter does amazing things for the animals in our ridiculously cash strapped city, and they have a beautiful adoption room there named in Otis's honor. So FOAS, in honor of Otis, and Eliza.


  20. Hey darlin'.. well tonight I watched a special on some pretty disturbing statistics about India's disappearing daughters. Long story short- it was a special on how the use of U/S has vastly contributed to the feticide/foeticide of Indian baby girls. the special was mind blowing and brought tears to my eyes.. babies whose lives are destroyed- simply because they are girls.
    One of the places mentioned in the story is this one-
    It is run by a woman who takes in abandoned girls (infants and older) and raises them in a loving environment with the goal of empowering them to led strong, fulfilled lives. I want to hop a plane and adopt these children... this particular organization does not offer adoption because the woman who runs Unique Home feels that too often the girls are adopted into horrible situations. Still though.. it makes me think about so much of how this world turns. This is a link to the 1st and second parts of the story- the home is featured in the second part.
    This donation would be in the memory of Cullen and Eliza- two voyagers whose lives mattered.. and still do- just as all of our children do.
    Part 1-
    Part 2-

  21. My faves are Friends of Maddie
    and SANDS Australia

    Thanks for doing this :)
    This is my first comment even though I have been reading for months but I thought I needed a good id