Friday, September 30, 2011

The Orphanage is Funded!

Three weeks ago I just thought we had set our expectations too high.
The economy is too bad. People have many other choices for where they'll give. You guys are all tired of hearing about the orphanage and the need and you have moved onto other things. The $5000+ we have already raised is a lot. Let's just be thankful for what we have and try something else.
This is what we were telling each other.

I don't know why I always forget that this isn't really my project after all. I always get into the trap of believing that I'm the one doing this, and that it's all limited by my power.

If that were the case most of what has happened the past 3 years wouldn't have happened at all.


Anyway, all this to say that donations just kept coming in, though we were busy doing other things that needed attention.

Today I totaled it all, everything that has come in the past week, plus everything from before.

You ready?

You might want to sit down for this.

$10,856.50

Seriously.

What felt impossible a few weeks ago has happened and it's thanks to all of you. You did it. You told our story. You gave what you could. You just built an orphanage you guys!

This is the land we will build it on.
 (Ok, we still have to, like, actually build it, but in terms of funding it's done. I feel really silly for doubting now.)

My favorite part this week was an email that one of you sent me that had this phrase "I am beginning to feel "involved"... wanting the best for these precious souls."

That is what we keep trying to tell you. Because you are involved. You are the reason this is working. We could never do this by ourselves. But together... now that's powerful.

I'm overwhelmed and I don't know truly how to convey the relief, the gratitude, the feeling of being swept along in a tide of something that started so small and is now grown beyond anything we could imagine at the time and is bigger now than any of us.

Though it feels very inadequate the only words I have are thank-you. Thank you so very much.



 You are saving lives.

 Carrien

ps. You could still enter to win the iPod or other prizes until midnight tonight if you want to. :)


Friday, September 23, 2011

We're going to Build an Orphanage People!

Have you seen this post by Journey Mama yet? The very shape of those in need. She and her family took the time while in Thailand to visit the Tak Province Charis Home. They traveled far and pressed on through illness to visit the kids. It's a wonderful post, please read it.



Our current total is $9256.50!

It's amazing!

One donor, who wishes to remain anonymous gave $3000 last night. We're overwhelmed.

Thank-you all of you. I finally added up those $10 and $5 donations that have been quietly trickling in over the past few weeks. It adds up quickly you know. Your little drop in the ocean is making ripples.

We have one more week to reach $10,000 and less than $1000 left to go. We can do this you guys!

In addition to the great prizes listed over in this post we have one more.

The winner of the iPod from the last giveaway asked us to find a way to use it to help instead. Which means, you all get another chance to win it. Everyone who has donated since the 10th, or donates before the 30, will be entered to win an iPod nano.

I know you would all give anyway, because you care. But it is kind of fun to have prizes. It adds some excitement to the whole thing.


To win the other prizes help us raise enough to fund our orphanage, donate, tweet #thecharisproject and do your thing on facebook. Welcome to all you new faces. We're so glad you're here.

To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Giveaway - We're halfway there!

In 2 weeks we managed to raise over $5000  for our build an orphanage fund. (The new total is $9256.50)

You guys, that's really amazing. I'm still catching up and finding people all over the internet who blogged or tweeted about it and didn't even tell us. Thank-you all so much.

What's even more amazing is that thanks to Grace Hwang Lynch and Rita Arens, two editors at blogher, we are getting even more people paying attention to our orphanage need.

This calls for another giveaway!

Feel free to email us to offer prizes for this.

Our absolute deadline is for the end of September. So we'll end this giveaway midnight September 30.

Here's what I have so far.



1. A Karen bag. Hand woven in the traditional way on a loom of bamboo sticks by women in a Karen village in northern Thailand, these bags are stunning, one of a kind works of art. Selling these bags is one of the ways The Charis Project helps provide the women in the villages with an income and funds our projects in that area.

We will give away one of the bags in our shop, winner's choice.

2. Something cool from Thailand that Aaron will bring back for you. This is nothing to be sneezed at, the winner of this prize can get some pretty cool stuff. Last year's winner requested something interesting and cool to hang on her wall. We delivered.


Also check out this post she wrote about the recent contest.

The winner will get to choose from textiles, home goods or furnishings, or again, something cool with a great story behind it.

3. A gift card set from Drops of Love.


This was started by my friend Shelley. She works a lot with single moms and families in difficult financial situations and she thought, I bet they would like to be able to do something to help too. So she got a bunch of supplies donated and meets with these woman to hand make these gorgeous cards which they sell. The proceeds are donated to 4 different charities, including our own.

4. AnnMarie  suggested we have a a little giveaway for kids who want to donate, which is brilliant. Also, how cool that her kids want to give their own money to help. So we talked about it and decided that we will have a prize just for kids who participate. It will be something cool from Thailand, the kids version. Maybe it will be a Burmese style hat made out of banana leaves, or Lahu mini dolls made from scraps of hand woven fabric. There are lots of interesting things to bring back for a prize. If you win, we'll look for something especially for you.

5.

Our son is learning to play a Spanish Folk dance on the piano. Which prompted a youtube search for Spanish dancing, which prompted me to say on twitter that I wanted to watch Strictly Ballroom again for the Spanish dance scenes. The number of people that responded to tell me how much they love this movie was amazing. So we decided that it would be a great giveaway item. Just plain fun to win.

6.
Finally, the iPod nano donated by Blue Fern Cottage is still available to win as the person who won it the first time asked us to find a way to use it to help. So you can still win an iPod everyone. How cool is that? (To enter to win you must make a donation.

To win a prize help us raise enough to fund our orphanage, donate, tweet #thecharisproject and do your thing on facebook. Welcome to all you new faces. We're so glad you're here.






To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Monday, September 12, 2011

$5236.50

As of midnight PT on September 10 that was what you all raised for the orphanage and the land!



I just want to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank-you to every single one of you.

Thank-you for giving, for telling your friends and family, for taking these children into your hearts and for doing something good that will help them for years to come.

The winners will be announced as soon as we have a second to sort through all the entries and make sure that everyone is included who ought to be. We don't want to miss anyone.

Also later today we'll be posting a new mini giveaway with a few more prizes to try and raise the rest of the funds.

Thank-you everyone, good work.

Don't forget to vote for us at Giving of Life to keep us in the running for a $50,000 grant, plus many more smaller ones.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Good News to the Poor Gemstone Giveaway - Building a Self Sustaining Orphanage

We come to the last prize of this whole giveaway fundraising event. There are only 2 days left in the giveaway.


Our goal was $10,000, we've so far raised just over $3000. In a way, that's fantastic. That's more than we had, and yet, if you could help us push through, tell this story as many times as you can in the next 2 days we still have a chance of reaching our goal. We just need to reach more people. If 700 people give just $10 each we can make our goal. How many of you have at least that many friends on facebook or followers on Twitter?

The good news is, we have so many great prizes, your odds of winning something are actually incredible right now. Don't let that stop you from telling your friends though since every tweet or share gives you yet another entry.

Today's prize is one of the best, actually, there are 2.

The first might just actually save your life and the lives of people around you. Of all the prizes we've offered this week this on may have the most long term value. Good News to the Poor is the ministry started by Ken Blue, who happens to be Aaron's dad. When we were just starting out they were the parent non-profit for The Charis Project.

We have to offer today as our first prize the a package of teaching materials developed my Ken over his several years of ministry. They include a cd set of his teaching series titled Welcome Home and 2 books, Authority to Heal, and Healing Spiritual Abuse-How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences. These best selling books have been reprinted dozens of times in at least as many languages. Many people have described them as life changing.

The second prize has also been donated by Good News to the Poor. The winner will receive their choice of 1 of these gemstones or pendant. These gemstones are high quality, fair traded and the cutting of them employees family in Thailand who are being trained in business management by ClearCut Incorporated. For the first time they are learning the whole business of gem cutting, rather than just one single aspect in an assembly line that they repeat over and over again for their entire lives.

You can choose one of the loose stones or pairs, to have set yourself, or the silver pendant with the giant amethyst hanging off of it. They range in value from $50 - $70.


topaz
Citrine
Amethyst
Amethyst Pendant
Topaz
 Garnet
Golden Beryl
All donors are eligible to win the gemstone prize. Even if all you can afford is $5-10 that still counts. One hundred people donating $10 works out to way more in the end than 1 in 100 donating $50. (If I had a dollar for all of my page views last month I wouldn't need to hold this fundraiser. hint hint. :)



All donors and everyone spreading the word on twitter through the hashtag #thecharisproject, or sharing on facebook by tagging The Charis Project are eligible to win the books and CD set.

Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011.



To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Easy Canvas Prints Giveaway - Building a self sustaining orphanage

One of the perks of being a blogger is that sometimes people offer you free stuff. I don't have that happen very often but I was so excited when Megan from Easy Canvas Prints offered me a free canvas print to try. Have you heard of these? Take a photo, any photo at all, and turn it into fine art for your wall. Maybe it's a favorite spot you saw on vacation, maybe it's that perfect candid shot of one of your kids. I have wanted to try this since I first found out about it.
I knew exactly what photo I would print to canvas. It's one Aaron took of the Girl on a hill with the setting sun lighting all the bushes and her hair on fire. I planned to hang it over our mantel where we have some ugly media outlets to cover up. But then when I was planning this fundraiser I realized what a great prize this would be for someone and so I asked Megan if I could give it away instead. This was a great personal sacrifice on my part, just so you know. She graciously said yes, and so now I have one 11x14 custom canvas print to offer to you as one of our prizes. Awesome right? Here's how you win. As you know, we need to raise $10,000 to finish building an orphanage by September 30. Why we need to build an orphanage. We need your help. Please help us tell our story to more and more people. Every tweet using the hash tag #thecharisproject with a link to one of these posts, or share of our facebook page, or cause is eligible to win one of these cool prizes. So is every donation. Please don't think that just because you only have a couple of dollars to spare it doesn't matter. If one person in 100 gives $50 that's a whole lot less than the $500 that come from each person giving just $5. So please, give if you can.
Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011. To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Win an Ipod Nano - 8G - Building a Self Sustaining Orphanage


You know those kind of family friends who have been friends so long that you don't really remember the start of the friendship but your history is so intertwined that they show up in all your stories? The donors of this prize are just that sort of family friend. We actually stayed with their grandma on our honeymoon, that's how far back it goes.



A few years back they bought a property with the cutest little guest cottage that they rent out as a vacation rental. Blue Fern Cottage has everything you could want, a little home away from home, and easy driving distance to the beach, Legoland, Seaworld, the zoo, wild animal park, etc. You know, all the things people head to San Diego to see. They have had guests stay from all over the world.


When we let it be known that we were looking for prizes to help make this fundraiser fun they at first thought of offering a few nights stay at their cottage. But since that's not something everyone can use they decided to donate an ipod nano instead.
Unless you've been living under a rock the past 5 years you know what an iPod is and why you want one. So compact, so cool. I would totally use this for working out, to listen to books on tape around the house, to bring along our favorite tunes in the car.

If you came here today just looking for a free iPod, cool. Let me tell you the story of why this is happening today and what we're fundraising for.


A few years ago we started The Charis Project, a non-profit that supports an orphanage in Thailand. The regular readers here at this blog are amazing. They rallied and provided the funds we need to get 40 refugee orphan kids enough food to eat and school uniforms and a safe place to live. They were practically starving when we first met them and the person who was trying to care for them had no resources.


We got them past the crisis and then we settled down to look at the long term. How were we going to take care of all these kids until they grew up? What happened when they were adults? What about all the other kids who needed help in that area? What could we do about the social and economic factors that lead to these children being orphaned or abandoned?


The traditional way this is done had us staring down a long road of never ending dependance on donations, perpetuating the culture of dependance that foreign aid so often inadvertently fosters, spending lots of money to do one good thing, help these kids in particular, but doing very little to change anything in the larger scheme of things.

So we tried to figure out a better approach and the idea of a self-sustaining orphanage was born. For the whole plan download our executive summary here.  

Purchasing land to live on and farm is an important step toward financial independence for this orphanage. It's also a step forward in aiding the entire community as well as we get closer to implementing socially conscious businesses that will provide jobs, and essential resources such as clean water, clean energy, microfinance, and education to an impoverished tribal village.


That's where you come in. We really don't plan to be doing this forever but right now we're asking for your help to buy this land. If we don't finish paying it off this year we forfeit on our agreement and lose all the money invested last year as well as a place for the children to live.

The land as it currently stands.
We still have to raise $8225 to reach our goal.  

To be eligible to win this iPod you need to make a donation.Yeah, I know, you give in lots of places, you don't have a lot of money, there's a recession on, and it seems draconian to insist that you donate to win. Me too.

Think about it this way. If one hundred people see this and one of them can afford to donate $50 that's awesome, that's more than we had before. But if each of those 100 people all donated just 5 dollars, we would have $500. Which do you think is better in the long run?  

The point, after all, is to help these kids that no one wants and who have no one. They will continue to have no one unless each one of you reading this steps up and chooses to do one small thing that will have a ripple effect for years and generations to come.


And if the thought of your $5 today, or whatever you can afford, being part of changing the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of kids weren't enough of an incentive, you are also eligible for all of the other great prizes we are giving away too.

After donating, you get a second chance to win if you support our friends at Blue Fern Cottage who donated this prize and leave a comment on their facebook page saying, "I donated to The Charis Project". You get a 3rd chance to win if, after donating, you go ahead and tweet this contest using the hashtag #thecharisproject.

Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

(If you already donated, thank-you so much. You are already eligible.)

To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Birthing Path's Childbirth Class Giveaway - Building a self sustaining orphanage

This is my friend Teresa's baby. Everyone say awww!

(Full disclosure, I have been friends with this woman for most of my life. She's doing this giveaway because she is a very good and generous friend. I hope you all have a friend like this in your life. She feeds my soul in the very best ways.) Ok, parenthetical gushing aside. You are all going to wish you lived in Canada for this one.

Teresa is a certified Bradley Method Instructor. Her 2 children were birthed at home with midwives in attendance. She is strong and gentle and wise and you would be very, very lucky to be in her class if you were having a baby for the first time.



In her own words.
Preparation is the key to a safe and treasured birth. I offer small, personal, interactive childbirth classes that are about educating parents, supporting moms and helping dads as they journey on this path of birthing a child. The 12 weekly classes focus on nutrition, relaxation, exercise and education, ensuring ample time to ask questions and put into practice all that is learned. Birth is so much more than a physical act, it demands all of a mom's emotional and mental resources. Whom she chooses to support her in this will be drawn into the journey of exploring life in a new way. I am glad to be a small part of helping you have the best experience you can. I teach in Calgary and Red Deer, Alberta.
Teresa has donated tuition to one of her classes. The value of this gift is $375. The bummer is that you have to live in either Red Deer or Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

But I know a lot of you do live there, or know someone who does. This prize is transferable.  So you can win it for someone else you know. Do you know anyone in Calgary or Red Deer who is expecting right now? Enter to win and give it to her.

How do you enter?

As you know, we need to raise $10,000 to finish building an orphanage by September 30. Why we need to build an orphanage.

We need your help. 

Please help us tell our story to more and more people. Every tweet using the hash tag #thecharisproject with a link to one of these posts, or share of our facebook page, or cause is eligible to win one of these cool prizes. So is every donation.


Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

Because the prize is regional, we're going to run this giveaway a little differently. You need to either leave a comment on her facebook page saying "I tweeted about/donated to/shared on facebook The Charis Project." Obviously you should do one of those things first. She will choose a winner from that group. It must be a comment, not a like.

You are still eligible to win all the other prizes as well as this one. To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Secret Agent Josephine's ABC's - Building a Self Sustaining Orphanage


If you've been around blogging for a while you've probably run into Secret Agent Josephine, the blog authored by Brenda Ponnay. Your kids have probably looked over your shoulder at all the pictures of happy children doing colorful art projects and asked, "Why aren't you like that lady mom? We want to live with her. She's fun!"

She's kind too. This is not the first time she has helped The Charis Project out with a donation. Brenda shares her crafty and artistic design ideas for parents and kids in many places online. We've made a lot of them here at our house.

Especially popular have been the alphabet cards she designed for her own daughter, Bug, when she was learning the alphabet. Every drawing is special, you will love them all. Just this summer she released the book - Secret Agent Josephine's ABC's based on the cards she designed.





Photo credit to Heather of OMSH
You could win a copy of Secret Agent Josephine's ABC's, here's how.

As you know, we need to raise $10,000 to finish building an orphanage by September 30. Why we need to build an orphanage.

We need your help.

Please help us tell our story to more and more people. Every tweet using the hash tag #thecharisproject with a link to one of these posts, or share of our facebook page, or cause is eligible to win one of these cool prizes. So is every donation.


Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A tree landed on the roof!

$1495. That's a fish farming operation right there. Or the cost of the balance on the fish pond land and starting a new farm. Or 3/4 of the cost of building. Or 1/4 of the balance owing on the land. Any way you count it, it's significant progress.

You guys rock. Thank-you. Only $8,505 to go.   

Yesterday a tree fell onto the roof of the boys room in the Tak Province Charis Home, at 3am while they were all sleeping inside.

the roof before a tree landed on it

No one is badly hurt. Thank God! Good thing by next week we're going to have all the money we need to build them a new place to live isn't it? (Please oh please oh please let it be so.) It's been unusually rainy and wet this year. I wonder were the boys will stay now that the roof is damaged.


Please keep on helping, keep on tweeting. Go ahead and blog about it.



 It may seem like a big task and a lot of money, but if we all pitch in to help it's not that big after all. Just $5, times all of the people you know and I know, and they know and we have a new home for these kids. Please do what you can?


We have so many cool prizes that some great businesses and people have donated to help make this fun. Check out the bottom of this post to see them. Every donation, retweet using the hashtag #thecharisproject, and facebook share of our page, or our cause, is eligible to win a prize. Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mr. Rayz Music for Kids Giveaway - Building a Self Sustaining Orphanage

As I type this the current total is about $1300. We're off to a really good start. Thank-you all.

We still have $8700 to go.

Today's featured prize is offered by a very dear friend of The Charis Project. Ray, or Mr. Ray as he calls himself on stage, is a children's entertainer based out of Calgary Alberta. He specializes in mini concerts for toddlers, world music, ethnic instruments and getting the kids moving, dancing and singing. He has been a featured performer at the Calgary zoo, so many local festivals I've forgotten them all, and on CBC. That's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for all you non-canucks. It's a very big network, in Canada.



The songs he writes grab kids attention and get them singing along with the silliness and fun. He also does shows at local shelters for kids escaping domestic violence and uses his cuddle bunnies to help them heal and learn empathy, tying it into talking about the children at the Charis Home.  At every concert Mr. Ray tells people about The Charis Project, shows our little video, and offers people the chance to donate to support us. See, amazing guy.


Mr. Ray has given us 6 copies of his latest album Hello World to give away. Click the link to give it a listen. See? Totally fun. Mom's will love the song Put it Away and The Days of the Week song helps kids learn the order of the day in the week.



Mr. Ray is also offering a free 45min in home Mr Ray concert experience for Calgary residents. This normally retails for $200. Obviously this is limited to people who live in Calgary. But it is transferable, so if you have a friend in Calgary with kids who wants to throw the most awesome party ever, you can enter to win it for them.

So, how do you win?

As you know, we need to raise $10,000 to finish building an orphanage by September 30. Why we need to build an orphanage. We need your help. To enter to win one of the 6 cds you can make a donation to our cause, it doesn't matter how much.
You can also tweet using the hash tag #thecharisproject with a link to one of these posts, or share our facebook page, or cause. Winners will be chosen at random from all entries after the contest closes shortly before midnight on Saturday, September 10, 2011.
 
To enter to win the in home concert you must go to Mr. Rays facebook page and post, "I donated to The Charis Project. I want to win an in home concert experience from Mr. Ray." on his wall. Obviously, we'll check to see that you actually did. If you've already made a donation there's no need to make another, just post to the wall.
 
**** Stay posted for a chance to purchase MR. RAYZ album Hello World for a discounted price next week, with proceeds going to support The Charis Project. Tuesday to Thursday next week you can also download the album for the special discount price of $9 with $5 going to The Charis Project! 

  To find out that we're legit check our Guidestar Profile, or, come with us to Thailand. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.