Thursday, 29 March 2012

Fairy Godmother ‘Prom Boutique’ donates dresses to Cinderella’s in need

The days are longer, the sun is sparkling a little brighter, the birds are chirping, and the trees are beginning to cherry-blossom... Yep spring has sprung, and it’s definitely that highly anticipated time of year quickly approaching us again dolls: PROM.

Now here in England, for some strange and patriotic reason, it’s most certainly deemed cringe-worthy if you are the sort of person who ever gets over-excited about... well, anything. So naturally, ‘prom’ on our little island is basically just a slightly better (you’d hope) school disco with marginally classier attire and nosh (if you’re lucky). It’s really quite insignificant when compared with how the Americans passionately go to town on this momentous occasion. I mean, they even have BALLOONS; helium-filled with pretty ribbons and all.

I really wish we cared a smidge more about it over here. It just seems so... fun, and I feel like we are missing out, big time. It’s like a rite of passage. A FUN tradition. And your Mum has probably already mentioned to you, it is plain WRONG to monkey with tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I love 10p Freddo’s (I demand to know who signed off on upping the price of these childhood treats while also thinking it ok to make them smaller) and cheese and pineapple on a stick as much as the next girl, but I would love every girl over here to be treated to just one fairytale-like night where they can step into Cinderella’s glass slippers... beautiful princess gowns (you know, the ones that come packaged in their own large pretty ribbon-tied boxes), chivalrous suited and booted young gentlemen, something a little nicer than your school hall with someone’s uncle steeping in as DJ, and an evening without a finger buffet; that’s all I’m asking for. 

Moving on... as prom is a maHUSSIVE deal in America, New York charity ‘Prom Boutique’ collects gently worn formal wear from people all across Long Island, and then distributes it (free of charge) to girls of families across the area who simply do not have the budget for a new gown for their prom, awards ceremony, or even their graduation. High school guidance counsellors, at-risk youth agencies, group homes, and church outreaches make the program available to all of their constituents.

Teens who have already experienced one of high school’s pinnacle moments are kindly donating the special dresses they wore to this cause:

"I got such great use out of the dress when I got to use it myself and I know what the dress meant to me," one donor explained, "I hope someone would get the same enjoyment out of it."

"They are thrilled to be giving their dresses new legs," said Lola Intagliata of Clear Skin Salon (one of the many collection sites). "They enjoyed wearing it at their prom, now they're looking forward to having another girl have the experience they had."

Prom Boutique has donation sites all across Long Island, and collects about 3000 dresses every year; not only offering girls dresses, but accessories and alterations too. They are accepting dress donations up until April 22nd; and for those of you who may be in the area, you can find the collection site nearest to you here

Over 1,300 girls benefited in 2011, from 65 different schools and non-profit youth organizations across Long Island. Created in 1992 to improve the quality of life for all Long Islanders, the ‘Long Island Volunteer Center’ is a non-profit organization that encourages people to engage in service to their communities and mobilizes volunteers and donations to support community service initiatives.

"They're allowed to shop for dresses, they find their sizes, it's all colour coordinated," said Anne Sprotte, Prom Boutique coordinator. "And they go into the fitting room and they come out and their eyes are sparkling, their moms are crying."

Donors are very happy to be a part of making these special moments possible, and have no reservations about sharing their finest threads. 

Prom Boutique is most definitely style with a cause. 

Reading this article – I’m not afraid to say - got me all excited and very much into the spirit of prom! I had a little hunt around, and found some absolute gems on the online Oxfam shop, which are perfect for prom, or a similar swanky evening affair...  

But if you can’t find one to suit your style on there or in your local charity shops, why not try making your own? Or upcycling an outdated dress you already have? All of you textile/fashion kids should have no problems at all; but if sewing terrifies you from afar, then enlist the help of your nan/mum/bestie to whip up your dream dress. Go all out. No holding back. Remember, you won’t ever get to go back and do this again. 

And if you have an evening dress that has long been sitting in the back of your wardrobe, why not donate it to your local charity shop, or someone you know who would really appreciate it? A beautiful dress, after all, deserves to be seen.

Here are a few WOW factor dresses that I’ve discovered and couldn’t help but share with you for inspiration...

Happy Prom Prepping!

Monday, 26 March 2012

NBA on eBay charity auction for St Jude's

CALLING ALL BBALL FANS: St Jude’s Children’s hospital has teamed up with some of the NBA’s biggest stars in a charity auction launch on eBay.

The merchandise up for grabs includes signed photos, jerseys, basketballs and even SHOES (let’s hope they were cleaned after the fourth quarter); with names like Dwight Howard, OJ Mayo, Dwyane Wade and the epic Kobe Bryant putting pen to fabric and supporting this great charity. I’m sure the likes of Kobe will be able to entice people to be generous with their hard earned dollars – it is all in aid of a great cause after all. 

St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has been on a great mission for 50 years now to advance cures, and means of prevention, for paediatric catastrophic diseases through much needed research and treatment. Their founder, Danny Thomas, envisioned a world where no child would ever be denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability to pay; and so this continues to be practised by St Jude’s. Their aim is to be the number one world leader in their field by providing outstanding patient care, research and treatment, thereby hoping to cure and enhance the quality of life for an increasing proportion of children who come to them. 

St Jude’s also have a ‘Child Life Programme’ where activities centre around art, words and play in an attempt to encourage patients to express themselves in a creative manner. For example, one activity featured canvases with the large lettered words ‘mad, scared, happy and excited’ and the patients created artwork based on how those words made them feel. Other patients perform original songs or tunes and convey their feelings to music... it’s really up to each individual, as it’s about them finding the best way to connect with their feelings on a deeper level, and having an outlet for those feelings. 

‘It’s so important for the kids to express themselves because being here is so different from their normal environment Child Life specialist Jessica Goddard.

How sweet are they? I love how something as simple as drawing can make a child's entire face light up... I feel like we tend to forget that feeling as we grow up... the simple act of randomly putting a pencil to paper still makes me really happy, so I try to make time for it now and then. It's a great release, and a stress buster too... give it a go, and free the 12 year old kid that's still somewhere there trapped inside you!

And make sure you check out the St Jude's NBA charity eBay auction, it's definitely worth a closer look, and there are some TIP TOP gifts for anyone you know who's a nutty basketball fan (like my little bro, but unfortunately my student overdraft cannot take any more strain, so he won't be benefitting from this auction today - sorryyyyyyy!)

Friday, 23 March 2012

RAISE HOPE for Congo

This year, the Gen Art Fashion show (which took place a few weeks ago at NYFW) chose to benefit the Enough Project’s RaiseHope for Congo’ campaign, which included models sporting specially designed Congo t-shirts:

‘The BEST thing that happened on a catwalk all week.’ Sarah Hall of The Huffington Post

The star studded show was hosted by actor and fellow activist Emmanuelle Chriqui (star of hit TV series Entourage) who has been an advocate for Congo for many years now.

The humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo – which is also Africa’s largest nation – is regarded as the deadliest since World War II, and has devastatingly claimed close to 6 million lives. Armed groups are competing for control over mines in Eastern Congo (where conflict minerals, funding these barbarians, are sourced and used to produce many electronics such as smartphones, which end up in the hands of a none-the-wiser me and you), and they are using rape and violence as a way to intimidate the local communities. Innocent women and children constantly find themselves at risk of the hands of attackers, and very little is being done to make a change. So many people are completely oblivious to the current situation... it’s both shocking and quite disturbing to me that atrocities such as this can be going on somewhere on the other side of our world that aren’t even blipping on our radars. SIX MILLION LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST. And some people haven’t even batted an eyelash. 

Just thinking about the possibility of my old iPhone having been produced using even a tiny scrap of these conflict minerals makes me sick to my stomach... I’ll think twice before I make my next purchase, and I’d like to think that others will too after discovering these horrifying facts. What I just can’t even begin to fathom, is how these corporate giants manage to live with themselves knowing exactly who and what they’re willingly throwing their money at in order to get their products manufactured and make as much profit as they possibly can, with no regard to the appalling process of how it transpires from the raw materials into consumers outstretched arms. It’s disgusting. 

What the Raise Hope For Congo campaign hopes to do is raise much needed awareness about the crisis, and aims to provide activists with the necessary tools to educate themselves and their communities about the conflict, the role of conflict minerals funding the conflict, and the effects of sexual violence as a weapon of war used against Congolese women and girls.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the fashion industry indentifies and dictates trends each season, and can be an extremely powerful catalyst in promoting social change, which is why collaboration events such as this are so important. Though it is evident that the link between the fashion world and human rights transcends the buzz of any of the major fashion weeks events: enough is now more than enough, and the time has come to bridge the gap between the suffering of innocent people and our role as western consumers. The power to pressure unethical companies to clean up their immoral supply chains, and not source from mines controlled by armed groups, rests firmly in our hands. In the words of (one of many wise men) Jack Black we can STICK IT TO THE MAN and be free-thinking culture jammers, and DEMAND conflict-free products. What we choose to do is up to us, for it is us alone who must live each day with the consequences of our actions.

You can help to bring about a wave of change by signing a petition from a Congolese activist who is asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to create conflict-free electronics using minerals from eastern Congo. Go on, give it a click. Do something different. Make a change.

In addition to the Gen Art fashion show, Emmanuelle Chriqui has also teamed up with recently turned jewellery designers Kate Bosworth and her stylist Cher Coulter, in an exclusive Giving Back collection for their company JewelMint. Emmanuelle’s chosen piece – the Mumbai bracelet – will be used to raise money for RAISE Hope for Congo, with a whopping 50% of the proceeds being donated by the pair. It’s a bargain at just under $30 on their website, along with a number of other celebrity endorsed pieces (all in aid of many other worthy causes, of course). Really worth checking out as there are some great vintage inspired numbers that are sure to never appear on a ‘what’s not hot this month’ list. And great colourful friendship bracelets that will make super awesome gifts for all your gals. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

i love it when you FLEX like that...

‘Our watches don’t just tell time, they tell stories.’ 

Taking inspiration from the charity wristband trend that blew up a while back and has been going strong since, FLEX have gone one step further with their slightly chunkier ‘wristbands’ that also neatly tell you the time.

The FLEX brand works on the 10-10-10 standard – that is, 10 colours, 10 charities, and 10% of profits donated. From the 10 bright coloured watches available to choose from, each colour represents a different charity, allowing you guys to support the cause that means the most to you. These eye-popping products aim to raise awareness, while also being a fun and inexpensive fashion statement. They’re particularly great if you’re one of those sorts whose a little afraid of the paint box (and tend to stick to your safe palette of neutrals) but want to breathe a little bit of bright into your life in preparation for summer :D 

So whether you decide to go YELLOW for Parkinson’s, PINK for Keep A Breast, or BLUE for The Living Memoir (to name just a few) 10% of all the net profits are distributed evenly between all of the 10 participating charities. And get this - the watch faces and wrist bands are also all INTERCHANGEABLE, so there are oh-so-many possible colour combinations that you can experiment with, to suit your outfit/mood. Watches are a steal at just $30 a piece, so I would JUMP on that.

You can go to FLEX right now and buy yourself one here:

p.s just a quick declaration of love to all of my skimmers/readers/followers/lovers out there – my page views officially broke 1000 yesterday which is FANTABULOUSLY EXCITING news (to me at least)! This may be small compared to many of you experienced bloggers out there, but it feels like a small victory to me. And you know it’s all the small victories that matter, because they have the potential to someday amount to something BIG. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

50% off @ Oxfam online

Ted Baker, Farhi, French Connection and Lipsy are just a few of the labels that you can find for a fraction of their high street prices, on the online Oxfam shop. AND for a short while only, Oxfam are having a special ‘50% off selected women’s clothing’ on their website, so they’re definitely worth a peek right now. Go on; get some VINTAGE GOODNESS in your life @ Oxfam online 50% off 

Most items are about £5 to £20 – very reasonable + you get the added bonus of knowing that you are contributing to a great cause, and making a difference to someone, somewhere in this world, who could really do with a little help right now.

I have always personally been a fan of the second hand business, because I love the fact that my clothes are coming with a hidden background story that I can spend endless hours speculating about. When I was about 15, I used to volunteer on Saturdays in my local St Michael’s Hospice charity shop, and I’d find myself sorting through new donations, and thinking about this a lot. Like - who was it that wore this cosy red Chicago Bulls jumper before me? I presumed that it was a guy, who perhaps visited America long ago and was taken by friends to his first basketball game, and decided to get involved and support a team, despite not really being bothered either way. But maybe it has been passed down from person to person before it even ended up in my hands? Where else did that jumper travel to? Who knows? Like I said, I do like to think about it... Were they kind? What was their name? What did they do for a living? Do they have kids? Are they still alive now? Did they live a full and happy life? It’s nice to think about. And being the eternal optimist that I am, I always imagine them happy and content, or at least they are in that very moment while I’m thinking of them.