Random Acts | Pay It Forward

Just Some Of Our Favorite Charities That Are More Than Worth It.

ADOPT AN ELEPHANT, starts at $50 a year
What kid doesn't want a pet elephant? The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Fostering Program is a great way to get one and also to save a whole bunch of elephants who are in danger of being killed thanks to the ivory trade.
he David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is dedicated to fostering baby elephants who have been orphaned largely as a result of the Ivory trade. When you adopt one online, you'll receive a fostering certificate with a profile and photograph of your adopted orphan with a description of the Orphans’ Project; An interactive map indicating where your orphan was found and a description of the habitat and the plight of the elephants in that area; A monthly summary highlighting events of the previous month with a direct link to the ‘Keepers Diary’ for your elephant. In the diary you will be able to access the daily calendar entries and the monthly photos. You'll also receive a collectable monthly watercolor by Angela Sheldrick; and from time-to-time, you'll receive news of new arrivals and rescues.

When Alexandra Scott was four years old, she told her parents she wanted to set up a lemonade stand. But this wasn't just any lemonade stand: Alex had been diagnosed with cancer at the age of one, and her plan was to give the money she raised to doctors to help find a cure. And so, Alex's Lemonade was born. Her first stand raised an incredible $2,000 in one day and while she fought her own cancer, she continued to set up the stands every year. As news spread of the remarkable girl so dedicated to helping other sick children, people everywhere were inspired to start their own lemonade stands — donating the proceeds to her cause.

In 2004 when Alex died at the age of eight, she had helped to raise more than $1 million towards finding a cure. Her parents started the Foundation the following year to continue their daughters' work and the mission is simple: "to raise money for and awareness of childhood cancer causes — especially research into new treatments and cures — and to encourage and empower others, especially children, to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer." Today, many chefs are involved in this incredible cause, and I have had the great fortune to be at some of their events. It is an amazing foundation for an amazing cause.

C-CAP  works with public schools to prepare underprivileged high school kids for college and for career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry, which is amazing. We have actually used a number of their students as interns, and they are all really incredible. C-CAP offers job training, internships, teacher training, college advising and culinary scholarships. Since it was founded in 1990, they have awarded over $43 million in scholarships and classrooms have received $3.8 million worth of supplies and equipment. All amazing stats, but as I said, most amazing is the passion these kids have and the opportunities that they get that they would never have had before.

Nearly 20% of New Yorkers are currently living under the poverty line, and it's City Harvest's mission to help feed these nearly 1.5 million people who are facing hunger each year. By rescuing more than 150,000 pounds of food  EVERY DAY from restaurants, hotels, grocers. farmers markets and more  that would otherwise go to waste, City Harvest is able to provide food and meals to over 500 community programs as well. They also run great programs to teach people living under the poverty line how to make healthy meals, and they run  incredible mobile markets in these underserved areas so that community members can "shop" for fresh fruits and vegetables. It's truly an incredible organization making a real dent in the hunger issue in New York.

When Gretchen  WItt's 2-year-old son Liam was diagnosed with cancer, she couldn't believe the lack of effective treatment  there was out there for kids. So she took to the kitchen and, with the help of  250 volunteers, baked  and sold 96,000 cookies, raising over $400,000 for research. Incredible, right?  What I love about this organization is that it's an amazing one for kids to get involved with - it's accessible and meaningful, and who can't get behind a good bake sale?

My son is a baseball fanatic and so, with our Mark Teixeira obsession, we learned about Harlem RBI. Teixeira is on the board of this organization that provides inner-city youth with opportunities to play, inspiring kids to recognize their potential and realize their dreams. Another great one for kids to get involved in, especially all of the sports fans out there.

Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign is working to end childhood hunger in America. Wait, what? Childhood hunger? In America. Yep. It's hard to believe, but it's true and luckily brother and sister Bill and Debbie Shore believe that everyone "has a strength to share on the global fight against hunger and poverty." A future without childhood hunger is a future where kids have access to healthy food all of the time. It gives them good breakfasts at school and food all year long, even in the summer. This is an organization very near to our hearts and one that make huge impact in the lives of all of our children every day.

It seems only fitting that we highlight a holiday-based organization at this time of year, and Stockings with Care is one that we feel strongly about. The premise is simple: to make sure that families in need can create the magic of Christmas morning for their kids.  For SWC, it’s about “opening hearts, inspiring dreams and preserving the dignity of parents and their families.”  Here’s how it works: Social workers at each of the coalitions working with Stockings with Care, work with parents to make their Christmas lists. These lists are then passed on to Stockings with Care and through the generosity of private and corporate donors and a whole bunch of elves, they make sure that every child receives at least two or three things from their list to open on Christmas morning. Thousands of gifts are wrapped and delivered to the parents, empowering them to create magic for their kids.

We love this so much because it really allows families who are in such dire need the other 364 days a year, to feel whole for at least one day – to just feel like a regular family on Christmas morning. It's so important.