Every year ends with the usual mayhem. It’s the holiday season – time to shop till you drop and make sure you get something fancy for everyone on your list and then some! And don’t forget to get a few gifts for yourself, too! It’s a time of abundance for many. And for others, it’s a difficult time that can remind you of the world’s harsh inequalities. Around the holidays it’s especially important to be a blessing to others. Your smile, understanding attitude and token of kindness might be what gets someone through a rough time.


Pay It Forward illustration via Shutterstock

Pay It Forward illustration via Shutterstock

My parents instilled the importance of charity to me, and they are especially active in their giving around the holidays. Every year my parents throw a holiday party (complete with presents for everyone) at the All Saints Church Gordon Home for Senior Citizens in Trinidad. Seeing the heart and soul they put into that every year inspired me. Here in Chicago, I’ve adopted a few charitable organizations as causes close to my heart. Allow me to tell you about them, and the awesome brands that are helping me pay it forward!

Last year my friends at Kohl’s included me in their Pay It Forward for the holidays campaign, and this year they did again! I was given a $250 gift card to shop for members of my community in need. Kohl’s has a longstanding history of supporting children’s charities, and with that spirit in mind again I decided to use the money to make Christmas special for the young ladies at Chicago’s Mercy Home. You can follow them on Twitter @MercyHome.

The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls is a safe house for at-risk kids. If you read some of the stories of how these children came to live at Mercy Home, it would break your heart. Some of them are fleeing dire at home circumstances including physical abuse. Some have been neglected, or unloved. For many of these kids, Mercy Home is the only real home they’ve ever known, and their best and most normal Christmas ever is at Mercy Home with other kids who have been through the fire and back. Click here to read some of their stories.

This year I bought gifts for 40 girls, and I tried to choose cute accessories for young ladies from age 9 on through to 19. Luckily Kohl’s has a GREAT selection of items of that nature. Their Juniors section gave me everything I needed. Adorable gloves, chic scarves, super cute earrings by Candies and Mudd and Lauren Conrad – everything! I was able to get the Mercy Home girls some really chic, on trend, cute little presents to bring holiday cheer! Thank you Kohl’s for this awesome initiative!

I was worried $250 wouldn’t be enough to give 40 girls a fun gift bag of Christmas cheer, so I asked my friends at PG Beauty to supplement my contribution with beauty products. I collected a great donation from Secret deodorant and COVERGIRL. Thank you guys so much, your contribution means everything!

That’s one way I paid it forward during this holiday season. I’ve been so inspired by my friends who are going the extra mile to help charities that need it. My friend Shameeka AKA @BrokeSocialite, sent out a rallying cry for formula to be donated to My Sister’s Keeper, a charity based in Atlanta and her community has responded with donations and support – it’s a beautiful thing to give and I know the babies have been blessed by her contribution.

I’m sure in your community, there are organizations that need your support. Tell me about your own charitable efforts. How do you pay it forward during the holidays?

Merry Christmas, bellas!

Thank you Kohl’s for including me in your initiative!



mariedenee says:
December 23, 2013, 2:05 pm
This year I donated to a woman's transitional house/shelter to help them get back on their feet... it is such an humbling and selfless act that can help soooo many in need. I am blessed to be in a place of helping others!
mamabella says:
December 23, 2013, 8:36 pm
Keep it up my darling! As the Scriptures say " Give, give, give. pressed down and running over." merry Christmas to you and all your readers. love


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