This season always fills my heart with so much joy and gratitude and fullness, and just straight-up eagerness for the future. Especially with a little one on our hands now, I find myself approaching the holidays with such a different perspective. It’s like the fun and magic of Christmas has been renewed when I watch it all unfold through Coco’s eyes.
But I also know that this time of year can hold a lot of heartache and tenderness for so many. It’s a time when families are missing passed loved ones, or lamenting over relatives who’ve just lost their ways. There’s this underlying pressure to get the perfect gift, or to show up to events and gatherings with a smile on your face, a tray of pristinely baked cookies, and satisfying answers to prying questions about your relationship, job, or child-bearing status from distant family members.
You feel me, right? As much beauty as there is in this season, there can also be equal amounts of pain, chaos, and tension. It’s a lot to hold onto, which is why I love reconnecting with purposes bigger than me this time of year. So much of the holiday season is about gifting and exchanging presents with loved ones. But I also like to use it as a time to reflect on the gifts I already have, and to think about ways I can extend those to people who really need it.
A big part of that for Drew and I has been giving back to causes dear to our hearts on a regular basis. Our idea is to try to start local and then go global. And we seek out causes that align with our vision and mission along that path. We routinely donate to Healing Waters (a clean water source for at-risk communities), Help One Now (funding women entrepreneurs in Uganda), Safe Haven (a women’s shelter in Duluth), and Feed My Sheep (a food shelter in Maui).
And this year, too, I wanted to get my team involved. We hit a pretty massive goal with an affiliate launch earlier this fall, and so to reward my team, I invited each of them to pick a cause to donate $5,000 from our launch earnings toward. It was something I simply felt drawn to do — I’ve always said this business isn’t about making the most money. It’s about impact. It’s about helping others where we can. It’s about not just basking in our wins, but extending them to others in need, too.
So today, I wanted to share with you the causes they each chose, and why (in their own words), because they are absolutely awe-inspiring. And maybe, these might be places you’d like to consider giving what you can to, as well. Because lifting up others is the quickest way I know to lift up ourselves. Now, just be warned: You may want to have your tissues ready.
The Organizations My Team Chose to Donate To:
01. Marisa — Team JK Integrator
“We adopted our rescue Dillon from this organization, and I’ve been a constant visitor since moving to Cleveland 5 years ago. We decided after a year together that Dillon would thrive even more on a big farm versus our small urban environment, so we found him a 30-acre farm where he now roams free and is so loved.
Dillon was found homeless and hungry on the streets with no history. The fact that we were able to save him, to give him the life he deserved, still brings me to ugly-cry status. This organization receives no government assistance or funding, and they still manage to help nearly 14,000 animals through their programs every year through local support and love!”
02. Caitlyn — Team JK Course Curator
“My dad has multiple myeloma, and there currently is no cure. Every year or so, a new drug is found to help fight this type of cancer, and the research team behind it is phenomenal. Each new type of chemo found typically only works for a certain amount of time before the body is resistant to it, so new drugs are huge for this type of cancer.
My cousin-in-law is part of the International Myeloma Foundation team in Madison, WI, and they are doing big things. Nine years ago, they gave my dad three years to live, and he’s doing so well thanks to the research being done. Crying now – thanks J – means the world.”
03. Ashlyn — Team JK Conversion Copywriter
“Tears are kinda welling as I write this! So, the day of cart close for our launch this fall, my ballet teacher passed away. She founded the Alabama Dance Theatre, a regional pre-professional ballet company that’s run since 1986. I danced there for 20 years, and am one of hundreds of students whose life is changed because of what dance taught me growing up. Blah. Crying now.
At Kitty’s funeral, people spanned all socio-economic classes and races, which is such a testament to what her legacy is in a part of the world that has a rough history of segregation and brokenness. Getting dance (through scholarship) into the hands of students who can’t afford it, and taking dance into the school system so children can see it as an avenue to express themselves … that’s what this donation will do. Jenna, I know this gift will be HUGE for them. No doubt I’ll get a call with them saying, ‘WHAT IN THE WORLD is this!?’”
04. Stephanie — Team JK Customer Support
“’Every day, 700 children worldwide are diagnosed with childhood cancer. Yet, childhood cancer research only receives less than 4-percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget.’
I would like to donate in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and in memory of a first grade boy at my daughter’s school who passed away on September 4, 2019, Easton ‘Beaston’ Parker.”
05. Kylie — Team JK Podcast Producer
“I have my two rescue pups sitting at my feet as I write this. Supporting rescue dogs and giving homeless pups a chance at a forever home is something that has long been on my heart. Each month, I make a donation to a different dog rescue organization, from senior pets who need a comfy bed in their otherwise cold and unfriendly shelter environment, to southern rescues who continue to pursue a future with no kill shelters. It all feels like important, heavy work to my dog-mom heart.
My dog Lou Lou was pulled from the euthanasia table at a kill shelter in Louisiana, and it breaks my heart to think that this sweet girl would’ve died for no other reason than her time was up, and they needed to make room for another helpless, homeless dog.
PAWS New England works with southern shelters like the one where Lou Lou was rescued to bring dogs to New England states to find their forever homes. I am so emotional over the fact that a donation of this size, something I’ve never been able to do on my own, will help more dogs like my Lou Lou and Eloise.”
06. Danielle — Team JK Launch + Tech Expert
“The Trevor Project helps suicide prevention for LGBTQ teens under 25 and resources for them in every step of the way. My mom was a police officer involved in solving a hate crime in my hometown of Wyoming in 1998 where a young man named Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay.
I’ve seen the aftermath of not being accepted rock communities, towns, nations, and families. I have seen many friends and people struggle with finding themselves, and many young lives are lost to suicide in general.
It’s my passion to give back to this community as I know we have all had times and experiences where we just didn’t fit in, no matter our preferences or how we identify. We need more people owning who they are and others being more accepting, and I can’t think of a better charity to represent that message on a wider scale.”
07. Kerry — Team JK Facebook + Instagram Ads Manager
“I sponsor two sweet gals from this organization. They are precious and have my heart. They send me letters each month and are honestly just so, so appreciative and sweet. I’m CERTAIN they do more for my heart and soul than I ever thought about doing for them.
Having said that, you don’t have to sponsor a student, and a flat donation is great, too. Their areas of need are here. Their core areas are: Education, Community Development, Faith, and Healthy Bodies. I was introduced to this organization from Ann Voskamp, and I felt compelled to get involved. You can read more about that here. It’s a wonderful organization!”
08. Brooklyn — Team JK Email + Ad Copywriter
“This is where I’ve given MOST of my extra dollars for the last decade or so! When I was 16, I worked with a tribe in Nicaragua (dental work with my world-travelling orthodontist), and the ‘mother’ of the little community would get on her bike every morning to ride into the nearest village where there was ONE WELL, fill a bucket, and ride back with it in on her head.
Everyone in her neighborhood would share just that bucket for the whole day. And they were HAPPY about it! It blew my mind. It broke me in all the best ways. She would smile as she handed me a glass of water, freely sharing what she had so little of. So… MORE WATER FOR THE PEOPLE! Let’s build wells, y’all.”
Okay… I don’t know about you, but I am WEEPING. I am so, so proud to be surrounded by these women with generous hearts and postures filled with purpose. It doesn’t need to be thousands of dollars or even hundreds, but I encourage you to find a cause or organization in your community to donate time, resources, or money to this season.
These are the things that unite us as humans and ignite change in the world. So from my team to your heart, we wish you the happiest of holidays. Let’s build up something great this season.