Category Archives: Events

That’s the Ticket

Wouldn’t you rather pay for your parking tickets with karma instead of cash? Yesterday a B.C.-based parking management company was offering a special deal to drivers with past parking violations: Bring your unpaid tickets to one of four Salvation Army locations, donate a new toy for a needy child for the holiday season, and wipe your record crystal-clean. A spokesperson for the Imperial Parking Canada Corporation (Impark) claimed there’d be no limit imposed. Got 10, 11, 12 tickets? Give a dozen Let’s Rock Elmos or Nerf Vortex Nitron Blasters, and all fines would be forgiven.

It’s dubbed Toys for Tickets. “It’s a spectacular event. It usually draws a huge crowd,” Senior VP Julian Jones told a reporter in the week leading up to the event. “We raise just a huge number of toys and it’s a great amount of goodwill.”

All in all, thousands of unpaid parking tickets – along with even more toys – were turned in yesterday to four B.C. locations. “The people were very generous with the toys that they donated. It was beyond successful,” an obviously elated Sally-Ann spokesperson told the media.

If you live elsewhere in Canada and have a big heart (not to mention a sordid history of parking violations), take note. Toys for Tickets events are planned for other communities in the upcoming weeks, like Red Deer and St. Albert in Alberta, and Niagara Falls and Oshawa in Ontario.

Now if only someone would launch a Toys for Utility Bills…

In the Mood for Movember

Ready to pony up some ’stache cash? Today marks the first day of Movember, the annual worldwide fundraiser for prostate cancer that sees men of all shapes and sizes growing hairy lips of all shapes and sizes. Some of it may be visually unsettling, but it’s all for a good cause.

Last year I had the pleasure of cheering on several Mo’ Bros and their crumb-catcher campaigns for charity. This year I can’t wait to find out which of my male pals, colleagues, neighbours and family members are preparing to sport a ’stache for cancer research. (Tallying the facial growths of total strangers can also be an interesting pastime. Last November my daughter and I spotted a most bushy and disturbing mo’ on a fellow transit rider, and immediately turned to each other with the same unspoken question: Is it for Movember, or is he always this creepy looking?) You go, guys. Way to keep us guessing.

Lisa with a moustache

In the spirit of solidarity, I’ve created my own fashionable fuzzy. It’s official… I’m a Mo’ Sista!

DON’T Curb Your Enthusiasm

Dear readers, happy International Enthusiasm Week! According to the cloud, September 1 to 7 is dedicated to demonstrating enthusiasm for every person, project and possibility you happen to meet. So if total strangers beam at you, babble happily to your adorable (but of course he is) baby, or gush over your midcentury-chic skirt, they’re probably just getting into the spirit of the season.

Of course, it could be that they’re in a good mood because today also happens to be a birthday shared by a trio of Hollywood hunks, namely Keanu Reeves, Mark Harmon and Tuc Watkins. (I don’t want to play favourites, but let’s just say that Keanu is the only one whose name appears on my freebie list.) And there’s lots of other celebrations going on right now, too: September is Biscuit Month, Chicken Month, Yoga Month and Head Lice Prevention Month. So very many reasons to smile.

Seriously, though, I don’t think we need to confine our enthusiasm for others to a single week of the year, do we? Just as it’s not a good idea to save nit inspections for only September. But if establishing an International Enthusiasm Week gets more people practising positive vibes in their daily lives, then why not? Right now I’m feeling very enthusiastic about a strong cup of coffee. Does that count?

What, or who, are you enthusiastic about this week?

Child with very enthusiastic expression

How soon do we start?

The Party’s Just Beginning

What do you call a blog that’s 100 posts old? If it was human, it would be a centenarian. So what… a centebloggian? Doesn’t that sound like some kind of hybrid alien with horse legs and a penchant for archery? Be that as it may, as of today, 50 Good Deeds is officially a centebloggian. Thanks to all of you for visiting, reading and commenting along the way to 100 posts.

While we’re on the topic of vocabulary, to celebrate this blog’s milestone I thought it would be fun to share a good-deeds glossary of sorts. (I hope you like it, too. As a wordie, I tend to overestimate the degree of entertainment in this kind of activity.)

Here are a few of the captivating words and phrases I’ve come across in my explorations about niceness.

Helpers’ high: Better than recreational drugs, that feeling of euphoria and well-being after doing something for another person.

Oxytocin: Better than prescription drugs, a hormone triggered by acts of compassion towards others. Oxytocin, also known as the bonding hormone, makes us feel loved and connected.

Elevation: The emotional lift you get from observing a good deed in action. Warning: Elevation has been known to raise your risk of performing additional kindnesses.

Karma dollar: That lost looney you randomly find on the sidewalk. To complete the cycle of karma, it should be given away charitably. Urban myth states that you will be rewarded later with extra-good luck.

Kargasm: The explosively fabulous feeling that results from the above-mentioned act of feeding your own karma with kind behaviours.

Soul cash: The result of taking good deeds straight to the bank for a deposit… into your inner character.

Compassion-altruism axis: The term coined for the regions of the brain that are activated when we feel empathy and compassion.

Thanks again for being part of my first 100 posts! Enjoy the celebration! I’d have brought cake, but I know it’ll go straight to my axis.

Bouquet of flowers

Running in Undies

Kudos to thousands of students across the continent who are streaking around campus this month in their underwear. The Undie Run is an annual awareness event to raise funds and clothing donations for people in need. It seems its three founders have hit on a winning combination, as they express on their website a collective fondness for charity, college and running around in nothing but skivvies.

One post-secondary institution that participated this year for the first time was the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The school managed to corral a couple of hundred of its students into stripping down for a good cause, and collected 440 pounds of donated clothing in the process. What was one student’s motivation? As he told his local paper, “How often can you run around campus in your underwear without being considered a total weirdo?” Apparently that works for a lot of people.

But being the fickle month of May, it turned out to be rather chilly and drizzly the day of the event. Co-founder Kyle Kuhlmann says they’re thinking about switching the annual skinfest to a warmer time of year, since it might possibly attract more participants. (Ya think?)

In the meantime, pants off – I mean, hats off to all of them for coming up with a fun way to support an important cause. Smells like teen spirit for sure.

Today, Get Trashed

So what are you doing this afternoon at two o’clock? No, I’m not hitting on you. What I’m wondering is whether your city has organized a twenty-minute makeover. Mine has. So have several other Ontario cities.

The deal is that when the hour hits two, you grab a trash bag, step outside your school, home or place of work and spend a bit of time picking up whatever bits of litter have landed around you.

I’m frequently harping on the fact that it only takes a few minutes to make a difference. In this case, it’s just twenty minutes. That’s not a huge amount of time to steal from your staff meeting or algebra lesson (some would argue that both are unproductive anyway). Multiply that by the population of your town, and it means potentially millions of minutes collectively spent making your community greener, healthier and more appealing.

You may be wearing dirty gloves instead of a superhero cape. But by cleaning up your corner of the world, you’ll surely have an impact.

I’m working at home today. So when two o’clock hits I’ll be out in my own neighbourhood, scooping up the food wrappers and scraps of paper that surfaced as the snow receded. I live on a quiet street, so there won’t exactly be a party going on while I do this.

But if I know you’re out there somewhere too, I’ll feel the vibe.

You Voted Yes!

My home office is a happy place today! I’m delighted to announce that this blog is the first-ever winner of a 2011 Best Health Blog Award in the “Embrace Life” category. The inaugural national award recognizes 50 Good Deeds for its messages of charitable living, humour and personal growth – and isn’t that exactly what this website is meant to be about? I know many of you voted – some of you many times over – so I certainly have you to thank.

The complete list of winners and finalists is available on the Best Health website, here. The summer issue of Best Health magazine will also carry details about the contest results.

As for me, I get to keep this fancy badge on my blog permanently. I’ll wear it with pride, knowing that I’m making some small difference in my own way.

Big Round of Applause

My friends know I’m a sucker for flash mobs. I yearn to participate in one. It belongs on my bucket list. So whenever I hear about the latest flash-mob video, I’m checking it out on YouTube.

This one, produced by Quebec-based media corporation Groupe TVA, puts a new twist on the flash-mob concept. When a shopper in a mall stoops to retrieve an abandoned drink bottle – after other passersby have blithely ignored it – and pops it into a nearby recycle bin, the crowd literally goes wild. They’re clapping and hooting. Have a look at the grin on the startled shopper’s face: You’d smile, too, if you got a standing ovation every time you performed a random act of kindness.

(Semi-disturbing piece of trivia: In French, the expression is still “flash mob.” But, properly pronounced, it sounds more like “flesh mop.”)

Funny, but a few hours after I watched this exhilarating video for the first time, I happened to be at the mall. And the two or three times that I bent to pick up an article of clothing that had fallen from a rack, or a piece of litter, I heard a suddenly cheering crowd. I’m reasonably sure that was entirely in my imagination. But it felt kind of nice anyway.

Whether or not your small kindnesses set off a flesh mop, be assured they make a difference. If you have access to TVA’s television channel, you can tune in for a special show about the making of this project next Monday, April 4, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Vote Yes for 50 Good Deeds!

Happy news! This blog has been selected as a finalist in the national 2011 Best Health Blog Awards. It’s one of five blog finalists in the “Embrace Life” category. If you are one of the 50 Good Deeds fans who submitted a nomination, a thousand thank you’s!

Now’s the voting period. If you believe in this blog, you can cast your vote – once a day, every day, if you’re so inclined – from now until March 21. (When you vote, you’re also boosting your chances of winning a magazine subscription for yourself.) You don’t have to register to vote, you just have to type your name and e-mail address.

If 50 Good Deeds gets enough votes, I won’t exactly be awarded a brand-new sports car or a tropical vacation. But my blog will be promoted online and in Best Health magazine. And if that means a little more inspiration gets spread around, I think it’s well worth it!

Click here to cast today’s vote for 50 Good Deeds.

Bloody Convenient

If you’re a Twilight character, you might think of the Bloodmobile as meals on wheels. But for those mere mortals among us, it’s a new way to collect lifesaving blood donations. This spiffy, self-contained blood donor clinic can travel to you, instead of the other way around. Inside the vehicle, up to four people can give blood at once. There’s even a coffee bar. Check out this video of the comfy interior: I could take a road trip to the west coast in this thing!

The first Bloodmobiles in Toronto and Vancouver rolled out last fall. They’re massive, at 45 feet long. Forget the road trip. You could move the contents of your house in a truck this size. An older, smaller model roams the Ottawa streets.

They’re meant to be more convenient than the traditional clinics in malls and office buildings. The word Canadian Blood Services uses for these blood buggies is “donor-centric.” They show up at your home or workplace like a reliable taxicab. And they can be there after hours or on weekends, if that’s what suits you.

And how about this, for those über-organizers who walk the earth (you know you’re out there): you can actually host a Bloodmobile event in your neighbourhood! Imagine bringing the Bloodmobile to your next book club, or parking it beside your street party or yard sale. Fun, fun, fun.

I’ve harped on this before: Canadian Blood Services says there’s a desperate demand for tens of thousands of fresh donors to meet the growing need for blood. Every time you donate, you’re potentially saving up to three lives. That’s three good reasons, right there, to become a blood donor. But only a tiny portion of us – less than two percent – are currently blood donors. We’re more likely to be farmers than blood donors. We’re more likely to have cancer than be blood donors. For Pete’s sake, we’re more likely to be GoodLife Fitness members than blood donors.

If you’ve never given blood before, why not give the Bloodmobile a try? Don’t you want an excuse to use the word donor-centric? And isn’t it worth it just for the cushy seats?