Making a difference this Mother’s Day with Ipsy and Ulta

I had a lovely Mother’s day this year.  My husband took me out to dinner and gave me some great gifts. While I am most fortunate to have a wonderful husband and son, many moms are not.  We have a women’s shelter in the town I live in, and I knew I wanted to do something for them for Mother’s day.  I went on their website and looked at a wish list.  Lo and behold one of the wish list items is cosmetic bags.  I’m an Ipsy subscriber and have a ton of cosmetic bags, as I get a new one every month.  I didn’t have a huge inventory of them because I just sent a bunch to my teenage niece.

My husband gave me an Ulta gift card for Mother’s Day.  Well Ulta is my favorite store, and I needed some moisturizer, so off I went today.  I spoke with the manager and asked if they had any make up bags they could donate.  She said unfortunately that they only donate at the corporate level, but she did give me some perfume samples for the moms.  We got to talking and she said she has a ton of cosmetic bags herself and would gladly donate them to the shelter.  I gave her the wish list and she said she was going to ask her staff if they had any items to donate. She said just working at Ulta the salespeople get a ton of stuff. This is one of the reasonsMother's Day flowers 5-10-15 I love Ulta so much.  I used my gift card to buy some bath gel for all twelve of the ladies currently at the shelter.

I made a stop at Dollar Tree and bought 12 picture frames also.  Each cosmetic bag was different and had bath gel, a perfume sample and a small picture frame.  I also bought four dozen cookies from the bakery and some fruit punch so they could have a little party. I wrote a note of encouragement and wished them all well. I know it may sound like I’m bragging, but I only wanted to get this message out to anyone who likes to help others.  These are the lovely flowers my husband got for me at the farmer’s market.

Why I volunteer- and you should too!

Have you ever helped others without expecting something in return?  I’ve been doing some sort of volunteer work for the past thirty years.  I’ve had some very different experiences doing this work, some better than others.  For the past 4 ½ years I’ve been visiting an elderly gentleman in his home.   Every Sunday afternoon I go and visit my friend.  While he’s only ten years older than me, he has many health issues that have greatly affected his life.  John had big plans for his retirement years. One of which was sailing his boat on Lake Michigan.  He had to sell his boat, and can hardly walk now.  His wife was a school teacher and John was a psychotherapist working with veterans with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He himself is a Vietnam veteran and suffers from PTSD as well.

We have many common interests, and share the same political views.  In the past he worked at the local main post office in human resources, but retired after a postal shooting.  Both of my parents are deceased, and I have grown quite fond of John and his wife.  When I come to visit his wife runs errands.  We have talked about so many things over the years.  He has even invited me and my family to come and visit at their summer home in New Mexico.

Just recently I started volunteering for a local organization that teaches financial literacy to high school students. It’s a six class program that runs over a three month period.  I was truly amazed how little high school juniors know about finances.  I’m an accountant and like to share my knowledge.  The kids really seemed to enjoy the classes, and so did I.  I think I may have missed my calling, as I love teaching.

I was cleaning my home office recently and came across my id for when I was a volunteer at the Veterans Administration in 1993.  This was not one of my better volunteering experiences. My goal was to cheer up our veterans. It devolved into me feeding patients and doing nursing assistant type of work.  That quickly ended.  I also volunteered for the Girl Scouts working at an activity center. This was ironic as I don’t have a daughter. The first few functions went well, but when the visiting troop leaders sat around and did nothing while I was busting my butt, that was time for me to go.

I volunteered for a Big Brothers/Big sister’s type of an organization when I lived in Chicago.  I was paired with a 14 year old girl who was getting into a lot of trouble at home and school.  That was a very rewarding experience.  Unfortunately the girl was sent to juvenile hall, and I never saw her again.

When I moved to Wisconsin I joined the local Jaycees.  I organized one event at our local zoo.  The weather that day was crappy, so we didn’t have a big turnout.  On the plus side I was able to donate the food to a local homeless shelter. I found out when you have an event like that, you can donate the leftover food to a shelter and they will pick it up.  I called several local TV stations to try and get the message out, but no one was interested, which was quite sad.  Think of how many catered events you attend where they have leftover food. What a shame.

My newest volunteer opportunity is being involved in a yearlong medical study for osteoporosis.  My mother suffered with the disease and shrunk four inches in a few years.  If I can help just one person from getting this awful disease, then I will have accomplished my goal.

volunteer 3-14-15Have you every volunteered?  If you have, please share your experiences below.


The Ultimate Gift-Organ Donation

Do you have the organ donor box checked off on your driver’s license?  According to in 2013, 28,953 people received organ transplants. As I write this article there are currently 123,495 on the donor list in the United States.  Each day 79 people receive organ transplants, while sadly 18 people die every day waiting for transplants.

This topic is important to me as I approach the twelfth anniversary of my dear sister in-law’s death.  Joanne was killed by a drunk driver on December 29, 2002 on her way to work as a nurse.  She left behind two small children, along with my brother.  The person who killed her spent less than four years in prison.

Her death left a gaping hole in everyone’s hearts who knew her. She was loved and respected by many.  Joanne was an organ donor.  Her death benefited over 200 people, which I didn’t even know was possible until after she died.

Here are some facts from the’s website regarding organ donation:

These facts may help you better understand organ, eye, and tissue donation:

Fact: Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. The transplant team will determine at an individual’s time of death whether donation is possible.

Fact: Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the number one priority is to save your life.

Fact: When matching donor organs to recipients, the computerized matching system considers issues such as the severity of illness, blood type, time spent waiting, other important medical information, and geographic location. The recipient’s financial or celebrity status or race does not figure in.

Fact: An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.

Fact: There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.

Fact: Every state provides access to a donor registry where its residents can indicate their donation decision.

Fact: Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S. Violators are punishable by prison sentences and fines.

Fact: People can recover from comas, but not brain death. Coma and brain death are not the same. Brain death is final.

I had signed up to be an organ donor years before Joanne died, but I encourage everyone to sign up when they renew their driver’s license.

In 2010, (the most recent data) there were almost 2.5 million deaths in the U.S.  Imagine if every one of those persons had donated.

Be a hero and sign up to be an organ donor today at Donation photo