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How to Help After Hurricane Sandy

31 Oct

Hurricane Sandy has left a path of destruction across the eastern seaboard, and now is the time for us to come together and help our fellow man. Below are any and all opportunities I’ve found to help recovery efforts, whether its volunteering your time or donating money to those who are already dispatched into communities across New York. This list is focused on NYC, but I welcome any new opportunities in the Tri-State Area and beyond: please email and your organization’s needs will be posted.

At this time, the donation of time and money is much more beneficial than in-kind donations, as the efforts needed to package and dispatch such items is time consuming. Unless expressly noted by an organization that they are in need of specific items, which some are and have, please consider a monetary donation before giving in-kind gifts.


FOOD BANK FOR NEW YORK CITY: If you are interested in joining the Food Bank for NYC within this critical time of need, please join their mailing list HERE. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email us at

NYC SERVICE: To be dispatched wherever there is a need in NYC, email with your name, email and borough.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK: As of October 31, the park remains closed, but they will need all the help they can get with clean up efforts over the next several days. If you would like to volunteer, please email Sarah Ward (, and they will alert you when it is time to mobilize.

NEW YORK CARES: As the City’s lead organization for the management of unaffiliated volunteers, New York Cares’ Emergency Response Program ensures that volunteers can be quickly and effectively mobilized in the event of a disaster. If you are already a New York Cares volunteer please click here. You will be prompted to sign up to express your interest in being contacted about disaster recovery projects after Hurricane Sandy. We do not yet know the extent of the need, or where or when volunteer projects will take place, but we will contact interested volunteers once we have a better understanding of the response needed. Thanks for your support as we help the city respond. If you are not already registered with New York Cares please click here.

RED CROSS: If you’d like to volunteer at a Red Cross shelter and are…

  • Over the age of 16
  • Available for 12 hour shift from Wednesday, Oct 31 to Friday, November 2.
  • Be ready to deploy to a shelter location outside of New York City and stay for up to 72 hours.
  • Able to lift and carry 30-40 lbs
  • Comfortable working with people in stressful situations

If you meet these requirements, please fill out our Spontaneous Volunteer Application.

Hurricane Sandy has forced the cancellation of approximately 300 American Red Cross blood drives in 14 states along the East Coast, resulting in a shortfall of more than 10,700 units of blood and platelets thus far. To help by donating blood in NY, click here: . For other states, click here.

NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE: The Public Advocates office is helping to mobilize volunteers. Register here.

JERSEY CARES: Register with Jersey Cares to volunteer for recovery projects in New Jersey, and they will email you when projects are in place:

NJ EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER HOTLINE: If you are interested in volunteering in NJ, call the state’s volunteer emergency response hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397). This hotline was established earlier this year to enhance the state’s emergency responsiveness by harnessing New Jerseyans’ strong spirit of service. If storm conditions preclude the hotline from being answered by live operators, volunteers may call one of two backup hotline numbers: 609-775-5236 or 908-303-0471. Volunteers may also send an email to Read more here.

STATEN ISLAND RECOVERS: This is a recovery organizing site for Staten Island in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The site allows people to offer/request assistance, and is coordinated by the folks at Occupy NYC and community organizations on the ground. Visit the site:

UPPER WEST SIDE SHELTERS (Updated 12:50pm, 10/31): “Upper West Side shelter needs help: clothes in large sizes needed for Sandy evacuees at MS 118, 154 West 93 St.” There are three shelters in the neighborhood. The one at John Jay College had enough volunteers last night (not sure about tonight yet) but the following two were running low on volunteers and will need help again tonight, including for overnight shifts:

Brandeis High School on West 84th Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues).

MS 118 on 93rd Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues)

If you can volunteer at an evacuation shelter or know anyone who can, please contact Shelly Fine at or 917.453.3911.


MAYOR’S FUND TO ADVANCE NEW YORK: The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is committed to improving the lives of New Yorkers. Right now, you can donate directly to hurricane relief in NYC through this website:

RED CROSS: The best way to donate is to make a financial gift. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. In-kind donations are not needed at this time.

NYC RESCUE MISSION: If you can purchase or have extra food/water–take it to NYC Rescue Mission, 90 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013-4494. They are also in need of dry ice, generators, and AA and D batteries. If you are not in the area but wish to donate, you can do so through their website:

THE HUMANE SOCIETY: The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team is assisting animals and people in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, and is prepared for ongoing disaster relief after this historic storm. To make a donation click here

THE BOWERY MISSION: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, The Bowery Mission is providing safe shelter and food to more homeless and displaced New Yorkers, effectively tripling its normal capacity. The supply of food and pantry items is drastically decreasing at a time when it is needed most. Make a donation by clicking here, or donate over the phone by calling 1-800-BOWERY-1 (1-800-269-3791)


G&G For the Holidays: Gifts That Give Back

1 Dec

This post is part of the second annual NYC Bloggers Do the Holidays, where a group of New York’s top bloggers join forces to bring you the best that this city has to offer for the holiday season! Check out the list of participating bloggers below. Read them all, and you’ll have no problem navigating this city and taking it for all it’s worth…After the jump, check out my contribution: Gifts that Give Back.

‘the improvised life’: Design (or Hack) Your Own Holiday E-Cards

Manhattan User’s Guide: The Gift Guide: 21 Over $21

Markets of New York: Festive Food at New York’s Holiday Markets

Patell and Waterman’s History of New York: Christmas with Andy Warhol

We Heart Astoria: The Best Places To Shop Local – WHA Holiday Gift Guide


Last year I gave you some tips on where to volunteer all month long (I’ve gone back and updated what I could, so be sure to check it out, and volunteer!). This year, Give and Get will be your guide to shopping for a cause-places to buy gifts while also giving back to your favorite NYC charities. Anyone who receives emails from major retailers is aware of the growing trend of incorporating charitable giving into everyday shopping, especially during this time of year. I’ve tried to compile a list of those who are making contributions to local, New York-based charities, in addition to non-profits who are offering online catalogs that benefit their own organization directly. I’ve also thrown in a few alternative gift ideas that are great for that rich relative who has everything…Read on, my friends, and get ready to knock out your gift list and good deed for the day at the same time.

For people who love kids…

– Retailers owned by participating Friends of Baby Buggy will donate 10% of proceeds to Baby Buggy, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing New York City’s families in need with essential equipment, clothing, and products for their infants and young children. You’ll need a special code at checkout to make sure the donation is made-listed below:

  • Gift Hero: Carries gifts for age 0-10. Code: BUGGY2010
  • Kirna Zabete: Soho shop that carries designers such as Lanvin, Givenchy, Celine, Proenza Schouler and more. Code: KZLOVESBABYBUGGY
  • Baby CZ: A luxury line of cashmere, cotton and silk clothes & accessories for babies, children and women. Code: BUGGY
  • Felix Rey: An ultra-feiminine luxury accessories brand. Code: BUGGY10

For food-loving NYC locals…

God’s Love We Deliver, a popular non-profit organization that delivers food daily to home-bound New Yorkers, delivers more than just meals during the holiday season. Clients receive gift baskets full of delicious treats (and meals), all delivered in shopping bags decorated by school children. You can purchase gifts from their holiday catalog, including GLWD aprons and oven mitts, wine glasses and more, with proceeds benefiting the organization. With demand for their services up 21% in just the first three months of the current fiscal year, a purchase from here will be more important than ever before.


Going once, going twice…

Bidding For Good is an online auction platform that allows non-profit organizations to set up fundraising auctions for themselves that maximize their reach and potential to raise more money. You can search by cause and/or state, or just by auction items, which range from restaurant gift certificates to all-inclusive vacations, all benefiting a specific charity! This is a great site to use if you’re a fan of Ebay, or want to find a specific cause to give to while you shop..The auctions run for a few weeks, so be sure to check back for new causes and items throughout the month. Currently running is an auction to benefit the West Side YMCA Teen Center; it’s running until December 10th at 9pm- bid now!


For your tchotchke-loving friend or coworkers…

Exit 9 has been called a cross between a museum gift shop and a kitschy toy store. After passing by last weekend, I can confirm that it is in fact, just that. You’ll be able to find gag gifts, iPod accessories, children’s craft kits and everything in between. My favorite were the bandaids that look like strips of bacon (which I got for my 6-yr old nephew). More importantly, they’re encouraging people to shop locally while supporting local charities. During their ’12 Days of Charity’ promotion (December 1st-12th) you’ll be able to choose which of the eight local non-profit organizations they’ve listed will receive 10% of profits. Organizations include: BARC Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition, GenerationOn, God’s Love We Deliver, LES Girls Club, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Public School 58Public School 261, Transportation Alternatives. You can shop online, or find even more merchandise at one of their two retail locations (in Brooklyn and on the LES)


For the person who has everything and enough money to buy it if they don’t…

– Let’s call this person Charlie. Charlie is the hardest person to get gifts for. Unless it’s perishable, you’re likely getting him something he already has, or doesn’t want. In the past few years, I’ve taken a departure from the traditional gifts and began to give donations in other people’s names. It’s a really personal gesture that will (hopefully) make them much more appreciative of your gift than last year’s wine stopper or coaster set. More specific ideas for your Charlie:

  • Does your Charlie love the outdoors? Make a donation to MillionTreesNYC or Fresh Air Fund. An avid gardner? Help fund a project on ioby (‘in our backyards’). Whatever you choose, just be sure to Charlie that you’ve made a donation in his honor. Check out ‘the improvised life‘ blog for more tips on double-duty gifts and cards, and Cards That Give, a great source for charity greeting cards.
  • If you want to get a little more sentimental, you can request/pick up a letter to Santa (depending on your budget-gifts requested are usually under $40-maybe more than one). You can fulfill a child’s wish by sending them their gift from Santa on Charlie’s behalf. Give the child’s letter to Charlie with a note that says something along the lines of “In lieu of a gift, I’ve given this little girl the Barbie she always wanted and couldn’t afford, on your behalf..” You can get these letters from the James A Farley Building in midtown. (New York Cares runs a similar program but registration has closed)
  • If your Charlie is a little more global-minded, you can gift something even bigger, with long-lasting effects. Heifer International allows you to donate sheep, llamas, goats and more, to impoverished children and families around the world, and help them receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant. After your donation, you’ll have the opportunity to create a printable gift card or e-card to tell Charlie that you’ve honored him with a Heifer gift. (Update: It’s been brought to my attention that there are differing opinions regarding HI’s practices and their ethical merit. Read here about another point of view. Charity Navigator is one place to check on how donations are distributed by NPOs- know who you’re donating to before you donate, always)


So there you have it.. some different places to cross people off your list while giving back to some NYC non-profits. Did I miss something? It’s likely! If you’ve got something to add, please comment below or email to

Monday Nights at God’s Love

24 Nov

This week is clearly a good time to give back and be thankful for what you have. I had signed up to volunteer with a group who was distributing Thanksgiving groceries (turkey, cranberry sauce, the whole 9) on Sunday, but received an email a few days prior telling me that pantry had lost a major donor and would not have enough food to warrant all the volunteers they had planned on having. I was really sad for a few reasons, number one being that a lot of families would be going without the traditional Thanksgiving day meal this year, which seems almost un-American and breaks my heart. Another reason was that I was left with little time to find another holiday opportunity, since things fill up so quickly this time of year, and it was really important to me that I give back this week. Luckily, my friend McKenzie volunteers weekly with God’s Love We Deliver and was able to get me a spot on the chopping block (almost literally) with her Monday night team of regulars.

I was greeted by the fabulous, super-enthusiastic, Volunteer Services Specialist Emily, who gave me a short form to fill out before heading downstairs to the kitchen (since I’ve volunteered here before, I got to skip the kitchen safety speech). After putting on a very fashionable hair net, tying on an apron and washing my hands, I was ready to get down and dirty with… mushrooms! We chopped up boxes of mushrooms that would be used in a meal for the next day while chatting away. After those were done, we moved on to kidney bean sorting; this consisted of dumping handfuls of beans at a time onto a tray and sorting the bunch for rocks and other small items that are the same size as beans but not nearly as delicious. Apparently when buying beans in bulk that are machine-sorted, there is a tendency for bean-like things to pass through unnoticed, and since no one likes to eat rocks (except maybe this guy–ew), God’s Love takes the extra time to make sure their beans are, well, all beans. After 100 lbs were declared rock-free by our group of eight, we finished off the night chopping onions.

Emily came back into the kitchen for a quick pep talk and thank you to all the volunteers, and announced the meal that would be served the next day and for Thanksgiving. She does this every night (with gusto!), and I think it’s a great way to connect the volunteers to the rest of the organization; you could spend two hours in the kitchen chopping or packing food with no idea what happens next. It’s nice to have someone come in and tell you exactly what those mushrooms were for, and how many people will benefit from your hard work (we had helped to prepare 1,800 the night I was there!). We cleaned and sanitized our station tables, said our goodbyes, and that was all she wrote.

One thing I loved about volunteering that night was to be able to participate and interact with the regulars. I’m typically pretty shy when it comes to meeting new people, but with my friend there, I was able to jump right into conversation while we chopped away. It also made me realize one of the downsides to volunteering somewhere different each week: I don’t really get a chance to create personal bonds, only fleeting friendships that last a few hours. The Monday night team knows each other; they greet each other with hugs, ask how this one’s daughter is or how that one’s vacation went. It’s a group of people, from different backgrounds I’m sure, that all have one common interest which creates a special bond that will surely last a lifetime, regardless of how long they stay with God’s Love in the kitchen. I’m thankful that they let me into the circle for a few hours.

Just as important, is that God’s Love We Deliver is prepared to cook, package and deliver over 3,000 meals tomorrow!* You can read here about the weekend leading up to the big Turkey Day, which was chock full of activity, from the Annual Race to Deliver to filling and decorating 1,850 holiday baskets: .



*They may still be in need of people with cars to help with the huge delivery; if you’ve got one and are able to help out, email or  call 212.294.8158 with any questions.

Toy Drive for VISIONS Services for the Blind

19 Nov

Help TimeBanksNYC bring toys to visually impaired children and families through their holiday toy drive supporting VISIONS Services for the Blind at Selis Manor! The toy drive is currently struggling to collect donations, so every individual’s contribution can help! Staff will be collecting toys at their Hudson Guild site (address below) and in exchange, each donor will receive cookies as a thank you gift!

They are looking for YOU to help donate a toy or bake cookies (or both)!  Please donate a toy, book (audio and/or large print), music CDs, or anything else, for children ages 0-18 years old. Some suggestions:
– Toys that make noise (have bells, sounds, music, etc.)
– Have different textures, shapes, etc.
– Have large parts and are sturdy

Toy collection will take place from Monday, November 22nd through Thursday December 2nd (excluding Thanksgiving Day) from 10am until 4 pm. Drop off your new, unwrapped toy and/or cookies to the TimeBanksNYC table at Hudson Guild during these dates and spread some holiday cheer!  If you’re already a TimeBanks member, you will receive time credits for participating; if you’re not a member, check out their website because you may want to be one!

The Hudson Guild is located at 441 W. 26th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail

*All donations must be new and in their original packaging*

Sponsored by

TimeBanks NYCand Bridging the Gap

VISIONS at Selis Manor and NYC Museum School

Press Release: Paddle For Our Planet!

20 Sep

For Immediate Release

New York, NY — September 20, 2010

On September 25th, 2010,, the New Yorker’s Green! Travel Guide, will be holding the first annual Paddle for Our Planet (POP!) charity kayaking event. Paddle for Our Planet’s mission is to promote awareness and provide support to various Earth-friendly causes each year, while getting New Yorkers off the island, into kayaks and out on the water. offManhattan is proud to be partnering with Manhattan Kayak, which has generously donated a number of their single and double kayaks, and Outdoor Bound, which will be providing the guides for our trip. For this year’s event, a team of 27 will be kayaking an eight-mile trip along the Hudson River.

In light of the BP oil spill in April, and the disastrous effects it is still having on wildlife—every species from pelicans to turtles to fish and dolphins—proceeds will be going to the National Wildlife Federation, to support their relief efforts in the Gulf. reports that 3,634 dead birds have been collected so far. POP! will use the donations to help such wildlife as the oil-ravaged birds and restore the fragile ecosystem in the Gulf before it’s too late. Participants are responsible for helping raise funds for the cause, and it is estimated that over $5,000 will be raised for this first annual event.

In addition to the kayaking event, Paddle for Our Planet is also hosting a benefit this Wednesday, September 22nd, from 8pm to 11pm, at POLAR (201 East 24 Street at 3rd Ave). Attendees donating $20 will receive a complimentary drink and entrance into the raffle; prizes include a getaway to Crystal Springs Resort, a Whitewater Rafting trip on the Lehigh River, Brewed in Brooklyn tour tickets, and round trip travel on Megabus to various East Coast destinations. If you cannot attend, donations are appreciated, and can be made on Paddle for Our Planet’s donation page.