Happy Birthday To Me…

Hello Tea Lovers!

So, my birthday is today!!!!   Of course, leading up to today, I got asked the usual question – “Whadaya want?”
And I was thinking – I have enough tea to last me for quite a few years now (and I might be driving my family slightly up the wall with the pile that’s climbing… well… up the wall), I am building a bookcase (and I mean a BIG bookcase, about 7 feet tall) with my dad to accommodate all the books I’ve collected while still downloading new books onto my Nook, I can build a house out of the candles and lotions that I have, there are drawers stuffed with notebooks (quite literally stuffed.   My dad had to pry them open one time because one of the books caused the drawer to get stuck), and in general, I am pretty happy with what I do have.
So, I thought this year, why not change it up a bit?   There are quite a few charities that I have close to my heart, and a donation to these worthy causes would mean more to me than a thousand gallons of yellow tea (and if you don’t know what yellow tea is, that’s kind of a big deal).
So what would be completely, totally awesome of all of you, is if you can donate an amount, any amount, to one of the charities below.   I’ve included links to their websites, links to my fundraising pages if I am doing something currently with them, a mini blurb about them, a mini blurb as to why they are important to me, and any handy-dandy information you might need.   Remember, some of these organizations might be tax-deductible!   You might also want to look at your company’s donation matching program to see if you can get your donation matched at all.
If you really want, send me a card with where you donated to my email, Catherine.Felegi@gmail.com 🙂   I’d love to decorate my room with those!
So thank you so much!   I hope you will consider donating to some of these organizations.

Out of the Darkness Walk (please click here for my participant link) – On Sunday, October 5th, I will be walking with Team Orpheus in the Out of the Darkness Walk, a walk meant to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
The AFSP strives to raise awareness about suicide and aims for a suicide-free world.   In order to do this, the organization seeks to educate, support research, advocate, and offers a community for both those who have attempted suicide and those who have unfortunately lost someone.
I participated in this walk a while back with an old friend and have not for a bit.   When one of my Facebook friends happened to mention she was walking, I figured why not join her?   The experience was really eye-opening as people went to see the quilt made to commemorate those who have passed, wore beads proudly saying they were survivors, and just in general celebrating life while fighting to stop others from feeling like there’s no hope.
The organization, based out of New York, is a Better Business Bureau-certified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.   All donations are tax-deductible. 
A photo of the quilts from this event, taken in October 2012:

Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen – This one is near and dear to my heart.   Since 2005, I have been going to the soup kitchen with my church, helping set up and take down tables, serve meals, and talking to the patrons.   The soup kitchen has been around for 25 years, making efforts to serve the financially distressed of the Elizabeth, New Jersey area with a hot, nutritious meal.   On average, the soup kitchen serves about 100 people per Sunday with various denominations coming to help.   This is a close one, being that not only do I volunteer there heavily, I also do the PR work for them.   Jean Wands, the current coordinator, is a complete sweetheart and makes sure to follow up with a thank you card for each donation she gets.
The soup kitchen can use items such as full-sized bars of soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, wash cloths, face towels, other basic essentials, as well as funding.   My church, the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford (11 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey 07016; 908-276-8440) acts as the drop-off for all items.
However, if you would prefer to just make a donation, then send a check to the Cranford/Elmora Soup Kitchen and mail it to James Brown Agency 429 Chestnut Street, Roselle Park, New Jersey 07204.   Make sure to mark “Soup Kitchen” in the memo section.
World Vision – Much like the soup kitchen, I have participated in the 30-Hour Famine for as long as I can remember, this year even acting as the event coordinator for my church’s Youth Group.   The parent organization, World Vision, is a Christian humanitarian group that aims to tackle poverty and injustice to help families and the poor around the world, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or gender.   As you can see by their website, their reach is far and they have made very concentrated efforts to help.
You can also give in a variety of different ways, sponsoring a child, gifting chickens and goats, even women empowerment through education and assisting sexually exploited women (more ways can be found here).   However, if you prefer to just give a regular donation, you can do so here.   World Vision is also a Better Business Bureau-certified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.   All donations are tax-deductible.
A Photo From The 30-Hour Famine This Year.   The Kids Raised Over $1,300 For The Fundraiser And Won A Prize – Giving My Boyfriend Camilo And Me A Make-Over:
The Elizabeth Coalition (the parent organization of Operation Warm Heart) – So, in case you haven’t already heard, I am trying to bring a program to my church known as Operation Warm Heart, where the homeless will stay at my church every other week for one night, be provided housing, a warm meal, and good company.
The Elizabeth Coalition is the parent company of Operation Warm Heart.   Their mission is to serve the immediate needs of the homeless and near homeless.   Linda and Richard have been wonderful to work with!   And by December, we will be having guests stay at my church.
You can either give a good ol’ fashion donation to this organization, a 501(c)(3) charity and tax-deductible, or you can look at their wish list and donate a specific item to the cause.
Or, if you care to do something fun for you and good for the organization, consider attending their Taste of Operation Warm Heart Dinner to be held on Saturday, October 25th at 111 West 5th Avenue, Roselle, New Jersey 07203!   PS – I’ll be there 🙂
Community FoodBank of New Jersey – I’ve volunteered at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey a few times at their Hillside, New Jersey location and let me tell you, the place is HUGE!   They have a thrift shop you can shop at, they have their huge warehouse stocked with food, they have cooking classes for people looking to break into the working world… Let me just say WOW!   It would take me the rest of this email to detail all that they do.
The organization started in 1975 when founder, President, and CEO Kathleen DiChaiara started distributing groceries out of the trunk of her car.   Now, there are multiple branches that distribute 40 million pounds of food per year to more than 1,000 non-profit programs, as well as more than 400 programs served by their Partner Distribution Organizations!.   They feed 900,000 people in 18 New Jersey counties!
You can buy actual food items to donate to them through their virtual shopping cart, donate funds, or even donate food!   The organization is a 501(c)(3) organization, a member of Feeding America (the nation’s largest network of food banks), and a member of the New Jersey federation of Food Banks.   Donations are tax-deductible.
The Rotary FoundationMy dad has been a part of the Rotary Club in Cranford for as long as I can remember.   Every Thursday, he gets up early and heads over to the Cranford Rec Center to hash out with the group what causes to help out in the community, what good work can be done, and of course, drink lots of coffee and eat a good breakfast.   I’ve attended a few meetings but this was prior to being gainfully employed.   Now, the meetings happen at a time where I cannot attend and make it to work on time.
That being said, I did get a first-hand look at some of the organizations that they help, such as the Salvation Army, and the Rotary Scholarship.   The organization has been established for over 100 years with 1.2 million members.   Their goal?   Solve their communities’ toughest problems through grants and volunteering.   Out of all their funds received, 89% goes into the programs that people benefit from, such as fighting polio, improve literacy skills in impoverish countries, and promote sustainable farming practices.   
On their website, you can choose to give to a specific program, or you can choose to give to the Rotary so that they can use the money as they see fit.   The Rotary is a 501(c)(4) organization (meaning that it is a social welfare organization).
Companion CrittersI remember the first day that we got my puppy, Ashley.   I was at a Bat Mitzvah for my friend Sara.   After a day full of good food, good friends, and lots of dancing, I came into the house to tell my parents all about the fun that I had just had.   I walked into the kitchen to throw out something and laying on the ground in front of the sink was a puppy with soft blonde fur and a tail that looked like it was spray painted black.   Well, let me tell you, I’m surprised Ashley didn’t have a heart attack when I screamed, “WE GOT A PUPPY?!”
Sadly, early last year around Mother’s Day, Ashley developed cancer and passed away, but not before touching so many lives.   Currently, I am in the midst of writing a children’s book and hopefully will be getting it published in Ashley’s honor.
My parents adopted Ashley through Companion Critters after my mom kept passing by a local store that had Ashley our for show and adoption.   Companion Critters is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps animals on death row in shelters and pounds.   Since it was founded September 17, 2000, 540 pets have been saved!
You can donate through their website here.   Donations are tax-deductible.   Maybe you will even find a little friend there as you do your donation!
Lovely Picture Of My Lovely Puppy, Ashley:

All Fur Animal RescueRecently, in March, my family celebrated a new addition to our family!   We got a little munchkin fur ball that we decided to name Shadow.   Shadow is now 7 months old and is a smart, smart puppy (probably too smart for her own good.   She’s already figured out where the light for her toy, a laser pointer, comes from and I am 99% sure that she figured out how to open the baby gate blocking her from going up our stairs).
The way I came home to this one is that I was at church running around the world (it happened to be a VERY busy Sunday).   While I was doing my running back and forth, I received a phone call from my parents.   “We got a puppy!”
And she’s been a big ol’ fur ball full of love ever since.   She adores laps and giving a copious amount of kisses, especially if it happens to be at 6:00 in the morning.
The Animal Rescue 501(c)(3) organization was created in 2011 as a no-kill, all volunteer rescue.   Eventually, they hope to develop an animal sanctuary but for now, they are relying on foster houses.
Consider donating by buying an item off of their wish list, or you can always go the route of a traditional donation.
And with all those cute pictures of puppies and kittens, who wouldn’t want to donate something?
Lovely Picture Of My Lovely Puppy, Shadow:

LIVESTRONG Foundation – (participant link for my cousin, Emily, who is participating in the New York Marathon, can be found here) We all know those famous yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets.   Some of us might even sport a few.   LIVESTRONG works towards trying to help those affected by cancer by looking at the problems in the cancer community and trying to solve them.   81% of their total profits go to benefit various programs that they run in order to help those affected by cancer.
Sadly, I have known my fair share of people, especially as of late, who have been battling cancer.   Some have lived.   Some have moved on.   Whatever the situation, it is not an easy one.   My cousin Emily has decided to run in the LIVESTRONG New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014.   So far, this very strong individual, who has beaten cancer herself (which you can read about both on her participant page and her Facebook page, My Journey 2 The Fit Life), has lost over 100 pounds, runs continuously, AND works at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – New Jersey Metro Chapter, has raised $2,380 for this 501(c)(3) organization.   So consider giving Emily a donation for this event.
So, can you help make my birthday awesome and make a donation to one of these organizations?

News In The Tea World!

Hello, fellow sippers!

This is a post to make you aware of some of the amazing tea events going on this weekend!

An Array Of Tea Offered By Tea Spot

An Array Of Tea Offered By Tea Spot

Tomorrow, February 23rd, Tea Spot in Cranford, New Jersey will be hosting a French and English poetry read!   Go experience some amazing poetry while sipping equally amazing tea 🙂   The event starts at 7:00PM.   The store is an intimate setting, so make sure that you arrive early to get ample seating.   Clara Ngo, owner, creates a welcoming atmosphere, delivering any tea and tasty treats to you herself while you enjoy the company of your friends and the delightful entertainment.   (Personally, as a tea lover and a francophile, I hope this becomes a regular event!)

Then on Saturday, February 25th and Sunday, February 26th, New York will be hosting its 7th annual Coffee and Tea Festival!   Tea and coffee companies from around the world will be there.   Since this show is available for both the trade and the public, make sure you get your tickets!   Programming surrounding green teas, master classes teaching how to serve tea and tastings (or “cuppings”) will be held throughout both days.

You can find out more information and buy tickets at http://www.coffeeandteafestival.com/.

While sadly, I won’t be at either event, I do plan on going to the following French/English poetry night and I plan to attend the Coffee and Tea Festival in Atlantic City in November!   See you there!

Happy sipping!