Heather and I are very passionate about helping others. “Others” being any individual or animal in need. (We don’t discriminate) Giving back isn’t just something you do during the holidays or because you feel guilty. It is a loving, good karma lifestyle that truly makes a difference. It also seems necessary for me to define “difference.” I know that small scale operations do not fix the problem in its entirety. The difference we are making will not radically change the world. However, the kindness shown to the person we are helping does change their world. Their life is radically different and that is the change we are trying to encourage.
You don’t need to spend money to make a difference either. Time is just as valuable. Here are a few of the charities we recommend donating to, volunteering with or better yet BOTH! Don’t forget to share your stories with us using the hashtag #dirtbarbiesgiveback
Meals on Wheels: “While we all celebrate the increase in lifespan, maintaining health while aging comes with a price. Without support from programs like Meals on Wheels, millions of seniors are forced to prematurely trade their homes for nursing facilities. It costs less to provide a senior Meals on Wheels for an entire year than it costs to spend one day in the hospital or six days in a nursing home. Meals on Wheels saves us all billions of dollars in unnecessary Medicaid and Medicare expenses every year – tax dollars that can be spent in much better ways.”
I was the Youth Ambassador for three years and cherish the memories I have of going to elementary schools and getting kids excited about helping others. For many, it was a new concept and it was exciting to see the seeds of kindness being planted at such an early age.
Humane Society: “Our most important goal is to prevent animals from getting into situations of distress in the first place. We confront the largest national and international problems facing animals, which local shelters don’t have the reach or the resources to take on.”
In 2004, I worked with the Humane Society to rescue harpooned sea turtles while filming a movie in the Bahamas. Though sea turtles are protected in most areas, there is a stretch of territory the sea turtles cross on their migration, on the way back to the beaches where they lay their eggs (that is not protected). Sea turtles are poached for their meat (sea turtle soup) and their prized shells.
Young & Brave: “The Young and Brave Foundation is dedicated to helping today’s youth beat cancer. We aim to help these brave fighters and their families overcome the challenges and hardships brought upon by cancer. Built on the foundation of LOVE we exist to inspire, encourage, inform, as well as to invest directly into treatment and recovery. We do so through networking, individual fundraising drives, community building, and financial support. Our one goal is to fight cancer along side those that shouldn’t fight alone”
Puppies Make Me Happy Sells a shirt with the proceeds going to this foundation and if you’re a runner like me, you should sign up for their 9.11.2016 marathon in sunny Ventura, Ca.
Jonathan Jaques Torch Run: “The Torch Run – Champions Run for Life is an opportunity for patients to join other patients, friends and sponsors in an Olympic-style fun-filled torch relay. We invite all patients of Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, past or present and regardless of age, to participate in this free event for all family and friends.”
I have volunteered at the Jonathan Jaques torch run since my days on Lizzie McGuire. To this day Clayton Snyder (Ethan Craft, Lizzie McGuire and every other girls’ crush) and I still volunteer for the day, running with these champions who have fought or are still fighting to beat cancer. Come volunteer and cheer on the kids in their moment of glory and after mingle with the Disney Channel kids and the Laker Girls Cheerleading team (that will get your boyfriend there. haha)
OurRescue (Operation Underground Railroad): “Since being founded in December 2013, we’ve gathered the world’s experts in extraction operations and in anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.’s Underground Jump Team consists of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives that lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. These operations are always in conjunction with law enforcement throughout the world. Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors begins.It is time for private citizens and organizations to rise up and help.”
I am very passionate about O.U.R. and have worked with Give in to Nature to raise funds for their rescue missions. Take the time to look at their website. It is very upsetting and it is not an easy topic, but it is real. Human trafficking doesn’t get a lot of attention (with the exception of the movie “Taken” which doesn’t portray the true seriousness and devastatingly extensive impact it has on the victims and communities). I did my Criminal Justice thesis paper on human trafficking, educating myself extensively on the topic and dedicating time to better understanding the problem so I can help find/contribute to the solution. (If you have questions about this topic please feel free to contact me.)
Give in to Nature: “We want to connect our love for nature with charitable causes that impact children. We believe that children are the future and they deserve the chance to learn and interact with the natural environment as we did when we were young. During the past decade or so, we have encountered various examples of a decline in children’s health, participation in physical activities and overall connection with nature. Our Hike to Help events serve two purposes. The first is to build a community of kind-hearted people, adults and children, that will come together to explore and connect with their local hiking and outdoor sports areas. The second goal is to unite this community in an effort to impact a charitable cause that involves the betterment of children.”
I have done several campaigns for Give in to Nature and started carrying their flag with me when I summit mountains. They coordinate hikes to raise money for charities one of which being O.U.R. OUR Rescue. I host hikes in Southern California to raise funds for OUR Rescue, so check in periodically to see when & where the next event will occur. I would love to see you there!
Buena Onda Aliviadores: “3 friends, 3 Relief Projects, 3 Countries. Our goal is to inspire to travel with a purpose as we provide water and health to those in need.” The three projects include Earthquake relief, setting up clean water systems and providing mosquito nets to women and children to prevent Zika related health issues.
I have donated products and funds to this group and know it is going to help people because I know the three men running this project personally. They are locals I grew up with. Talented surfers and photographers, but more importantly compassionate humanitarians wanting to give back to the people in the places they travel. The world needs more people like them. Anyone can travel, it takes a beautiful soul though, to take time to leave places better than how they found them!
Find Your Park: “Join the community of support for America’s national parks! As the national nonprofit partner to the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation directly supports the more than 400 national parks across the country by: PROTECTING America’s treasured places so they may be experienced now, and into the future. CONNECTING everyone from all backgrounds with our incomparable natural landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture. INSPIRING lifelong relationships with our national parks, and creating the next great generation of park visitors and stewards.”
This one is a no brainer. Heather and I got our REI 2016 National Park Pass and fell in love instantly. Since then, we’ve made several donations and have been sharing our National Park stories using the hashtag #findyourpark, inspiring others to join us in exploring and protecting nature for future generations. Protect what you love and adventure on!
Sea Shepards: “Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.”
I have donated funds and done campaigns for Sea Shepards, specifically bringing awareness to the destructive, abusive, and unnecessary “tradition” of mass killings sea mammals. Indifference is a choice and it is the opposite taking a stand. You are never going to bring about serious change without action!
Tagish Lake Kennel: “Donations go toward dog care, racing gear, dog food, medicines, entry fees, & other expenses that enable Michelle Phillips & Ed Hopkins to compete in the Iditarod, Yukon Quest, & other races.”
After meeting Michelle Phillips & Ed Hopkins and their 60 canine athletes (2 cats, 2 horses, a few stray goats and chickens that were abandoned and taken in when they purchased the property) and seeing first hand their loving interactions with the four legged residents I knew I wanted to help them contribute to their humble but ambitious lives as Iditarod competitors. These dogs love to pull and as long as they are given the proper nutrition and medications they can do so healthfully. I have donated funds already and will continue to work to raise money for the dogs care. If helping dogs ins’t enough for you, the team races together to raise funds and awareness for type 1 diabetes which their son Keegan was recently diagnosed with. Check out the blog post to learn more.
If you have other suggestions for charities please contact us! We are always looking for new ways to help.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #dirtbarbiesgiveback when sharing your stories so we can repost your good vibes; Sharing with our global community the changes we are making TOGETHER!
Carly & Heather