Remember in “Forrest Gump” when Tom Hanks’ title character ran across the country? Everyone asked him why he did it and he said he just felt like running. So he ran.

Inspired by his favorite film, Barclay Oudersluys is currently on a run across the United States in an event he titled Project Gump. The 23-year-old began his trip in California and plans to end in Maine in less than 100 days, for a total of 3,200 miles.

But Oudersluys isn’t running simply for the sake of a good run; he is on a cross-country run to raise awareness and funds for the Hall Step Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to ending global poverty. Founded in 2009 by professional runners Ryan and Sara Hall, the organization fights extreme poverty by improving health. During his 100-day run, Oudersluys would like to raise $10,000 for the organization.

The journey quite accurately follows that of Forrest Gump’s. It began at Santa Monica Pier and will end at the famous Marshall Point Lighthouse, just like in the movie. Running about 32 miles everyday in five to seven hours, Oudersluys has covered over 2,000 miles in 68 days.

Fortunately, Oudersluys has some seriously awesome friends that are driving cross-country in a van full of food, water and clothes as he runs. He typically rests in the back of the van or drives to a hotel each night.

Running across the country surely means seeing historical landmarks and meeting interesting people and Oudersluys has definitely seen some cool things, including another runner journeying across the country in the opposite direction.

Documenting his journey on Twitter and Instagram, Oudersluys hasn’t forgotten what his run is all about–lending his voice (or legs) to the fight against global poverty. Check out Project Gump’s mission and fundraising progress at their website, or follow Oudersluys on social media.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Telegraph, 6abc, The Steps Foundation
Photo: Flickr

Having been married for two decades, supermodel Iman and heavy-rocker David Bowie have walked a consistent pathway in relieving several communities of hardships pertaining to third-world threats such as the harrowing HIV/AIDS threat.

In late 1990, the dynamic pair participated in a fundraising event, 7th on Sale, for the enhanced medical research in treating and curing AIDS. The pair would go on to serve as recurring donors and participants in foundations that conducted deep, thorough studies of the then-unknown sexual catastrophe throughout the remainder of the 90’s.

But even with impactful collaboration in donor work as a married couple, the pair has never ceased in aiding disadvantaging areas on a separate, individual basis.

In 1998, Iman partnered with fellow philanthropist Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott in a charitable cosmetic line, Misdemeanor Lipstick, where proceeds collected from each item sold were issued to the nonprofit Break the Cycle, an organization that works to minimize domestic hardships and abuse to help young children and teenagers to live safely.

Around this time, other philanthropic measures taken by the supermodel included her support for organizations alleviating the mistreatment against Somali native women, world hunger and HIV/AIDS-related crises. A majority of Iman’s charitable endorsements were further supported through her organization IMAN Cosmetics, which supports the “Raise Hope for Congo Campaign,” an initiative aimed at protecting and empowering Congolese women and girls.

With his spouse generating similar awareness, David Bowie has headlined global concert tours that assist in the betterment of drastic illnesses that take a toll on developing nations. Along with his famous contributions was his feature in the 1985 Live Aid concert, which generated funds to minimize threats of climatic and AIDS-related dangers.

Moreover, Bowie went on to utilize his live performing skills through another charitable opportunity, this time in loose hand-in-hand with wife Iman. In 2006, the groundbreaking rock musician collaborated with Grammy-winning R&B musician Alicia Keys. The two artists sung and performed live at a New York concert as part of Keys’ nonprofit Keep a Child Alive, an organization that works to rid African children of AIDS and poverty-induced restraints.

Iman was also involved in the lively event, as she and comedian Wanda Sykes served as hosts of the event’s black-tie dinner in celebration of the initiative’s planning and success.

It would not be long until Keys and fellow organizers appointed Iman as the initiative’s Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive after noting the model’s sincere elements in raising awareness for multiple pandemics across the globe. With a newly designated role, Iman launched not only additional fundraisers to support a variety of causes but also programs like “I am African,” a tool utilized to build awareness of the AIDS pandemic greatly affecting her native Somalian homeland.

As years have progressed, nothing has stopped this power couple’s path to giving back to those in need. With social media tools redefining the nature of networking for a passionate cause, Iman and David Bowie still remain fixated and up-to-date on endorsing as many foundations as they possibly can to improve the world.

Jeff Varner

Sources:, Billboard, CNN, Slice, Iman Cosmetics, Getty Images
Photo: ENCA

Body Shop Foundation
Human rights, the environment and animal protection are all causes that The Body Shop Foundation advocates for.

This charitable company works closely with The Body Shop International, a company that sells beauty and makeup products, making many of The Body Shop products an option to donate to charity.

Since 1989, the foundation has been funding and giving money to different projects around the world that focus on working for a social and environmental change.

Besides The Body Shop beauty products, they create various fundraising activities that allow them to manage their three different grant programs: animal protection, environmental protection and human rights.

In the 2011 values report of The Body Shop International, BSI, the foundation’s money, during the years 2009 and 2010, was spent in Asia Pacific, Europe, the Americas and Africa Global.

For this foundation, the natural environment means everything, and fighting to preserve and protect the animals and the environment is an important aspect to conserve the planet. Some of the animal and environment protection organizations that The foundation has supported are PAMS, the World Cetacean Alliance, the Orangutan Foundation and Wateraid, among others.

In the human rights area, The foundation has the belief that all basic rights should be given to everyone. The foundation supports organizations that fight for these means and give a voice to those who do not have one. Some of the human rights organizations that the foundation has supported are Cybersmile, Kaibosh, Changing Faces, Compassionate Hearts and Children on the Edge.

According to the 2014 impact report of the foundation, wildlife conservation, animal welfare, climate change, domestic violence, disability, poverty, child protection, access to water, recycling, forest conservation and water conservation were some of the funded issues by the foundation.

As another option, the foundation also provides volunteer opportunities in the areas of London and Littlehampton as another charitable method to advocate for the humanitarian causes they support.

The Body Shop’s 2015 fundraising product is called “Soft Hands Kind Heart.” The product is a hand cream sold in every The Body Shop store worldwide, and every purchase becomes a donation to the foundation.

For every “Soft Hands Kind Heart” cream sold, The Shop will donate £1.50 (US$2.33) to the foundation, helping it with the creation and success of its charitable programs. This beauty and makeup company is making a difference that contributes with the betterment of the world through charitable activities and fundraising projects.

The BSI, working hand in hand with the foundation, is an example of a company that provides and sells quality products to its customers at the same time as it provides donations to the organization. In tandem, it is also able to support and advocate for their three focuses: human rights, environmental protection and animal protection.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: The Body Shop Foundation 1, The Body Shop Foundation 2, The Body Shop Foundation 3, The Body Shop Foundation 4, The Body Shop Foundation 5, The Body Shop USA
Photo: The Body Shop Foundation

Sevenly’s Socially Conscious Brands-TBP
Sevenly has become an outlet to create awareness about different causes around the world and collect funding.

They team up with different charities and organizations to create purchasable art. Every purchase that a person makes results in a donation to charity. People can buy shirts, prints, special edition products and many other things in the Sevenly Finds collection.

Every week, Sevenly chooses a certain charity and organization and gives $7 of each purchase to that charity.

The apparel company was founded in 2011 and, according to an article published by Mashable, Sevenly sold 864 shirts in their first week, raising $6,125 for charity. Sevenly’s mantra is “People Matter,” and they focus on promoting the causes of the charities they work with by creating videos that explain the mission of each one.

According to an article published by the Los Angeles Times, Sevenly makes donations to seven causes—anti-slavery, clean water, hunger relief, medical help, disaster relief, miscellaneous aid and anti-poverty.

Every week that Sevenly chooses a charity, their designers create typography and images that they can put on their t-shirts, bags, hoodies and different products. These products are sold for seven days to raise money for the cause that they are supporting that specific week.

Sevenly also created a project in which each subscribed customer receives a box of different goodies worth $150 of Sevenly’s socially conscious brands. Seven percent of each CAUSEBOX purchased is donated to various charities and world-changing causes.

According to Sevenly’s CAUSEBOX website, the CAUSEBOX is a way to provide meals, education, jobs, water and many other necessities to people around the world that are in need.

A PRWeb’s article mentions that Sevenly’s CAUSEBOX products are specifically created for this box. Each subscriber will have this box delivered every three months and there are two options for subscriptions. Customers can subscribe in a quarterly subscription of $54.95 per box or in an annual subscription of $199.80 that includes 4 boxes a year for $49.95.

Another part of the CAUSEBOX by Sevenly is that subscribers can choose the charity to which their donation goes.

Fans and CAUSEBOX subscribers are able to share their thoughts and love for the causes that this box supports by joining the community with #CAUSEBOXLOVE in social media.

This apparel company has the purpose to support good causes around the world by generating awareness by the products they sell. From shirts and hoodies to jewelry and prints, Sevenly approaches these causes with the use of art and design and raises $7 for each bought product.

CAUSEBOX by Sevenly is a different approach that the company uses to spread awareness and donate to good causes around the world. It is more interactive in that, while subscribers obtain a box worth $150 of Sevenly’s socially conscious brands, they also get to select the cause to which they wish to donate.

Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Mashable, Sevenly 1, Los Angeles Times , Sevenly 2 , PR Web
Photo: Blog

In 2010, in a statement made to CNN, Warren Buffet announced that he would donate 99 percent of his $67 billion fortune to charity. Almost five years later to the day, on July 2, 2015, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has pledged his entire personal estate to charitable causes – a total of US$32 billion.

Bin Talal is the current Saudi King’s, King Salman, nephew, and he attended college in the United States. Much like his American billionaire-philanthropist counterpart, the prince made his fortune in investments. His most notable, and most profitable, came in 1991 when he invested in Citibank – an investment that would turn out to generate billions. He currently ranks 34th on Forbes’ list of richest individuals.

The landmark pledge comes during the holy month of Ramadan, a time where Muslims are encouraged to be charitable. The prince noted that “philanthropy is my personal responsibility. . .” He continued by saying “[it] is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith.”

While significant, the $32 billion is not the first major donation bin Talal has made. The prince established Alwaleed Philanthropies nearly 35 years ago and has already invested $3.5 billion in the fund. The prince says his recent and major donation was inspired by other billionaire philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates.

Saudi Arabia is certainly not synonymous with women’s rights, but bin Talal has long been seen as a progressive and even outspoken figure on the issue. His hope is that the gift will “help build bridges to foster cultural understanding, develop communities, empower women, enable youth, provide vital disaster relief, and create a more tolerant and accepting world.”

– Joe Kitaj

Sources: BBC, AP
Photo: The Independent

Lenny Henry
On June 12, a knighthood was announced for comedian and co-founder of Comic Relief, Lenny Henry, in Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honors for his services to drama and charity.

Henry has been involved in several causes to benefit AIDS & HIV research, disaster relief, poverty, human rights and health. In addition, he has worked with Red Nose Day for Comic Relief for almost thirty years. He is also noted as a Comic Relief Trustee and earned a CBE from the Queen in 1999.

The comedian has helped break Comic Relief fundraising records with his campaigns for greater diversity in the United Kingdom. Henry said that he wanted to dedicate this honor to the people who have donated to Comic Relief since he has been involved.

“Every person who has helped us raise one billion euros, and for everyone who works at Comic Relief, this is for you, too,” Henry said.

According to Comic Relief, Henry is admired greatly by the British population and has helped decrease racism in the United Kingdom.

“Lenny is one of Britain’s best known and best loved personalities who has had a crucial influence on the creation of black-centered comedy and characters,” Comic Relief said.

The charity added that he is seen as a figurehead for Comic Relief, claiming that the success of the charity would not be possible without the support of celebrity friends like Henry. The Chief Executive of Comic Relief, Kevin Cahill, said that Henry is very closely associated with Comic Relief. He said that Henry seems determined to raise money and create change to end extreme poverty.

“You can’t think of Comic Relief without thinking of Lenny Henry,” Cahill said. “Everyone at Comic Relief is incredibly proud that Lenny’s work as an entertainer and passionate worker for charity [is] being recognized, and we congratulate him on his knighthood.”

Comic Relief is an organization that seeks to improve disease, mental health stigmas, sexual trafficking and exploitation, domestic violence, education and more. With Comic Relief’s help, more than one million children in developing countries have an education. Additionally, three million people who were affected with HIV in Africa have received aid from Comic Relief, and more than six million African people were protected from Malaria.

Henry has helped organize many of the life-saving tactics provided by Comic Relief, henceforth receiving the great honor from the Queen. Henry said that this accomplishment is an incredible achievement.

“It is a wonderful thing. My family [is] absolutely chuffed and my friends have not stopped congratulating me. I’d like the thank everyone for being so generous and so kind. It is an extraordinary thing, and I am absolutely thrilled,” Henry said.

The Queen’s Birthday Honors are given to those who have achieved prestigious and amazing success for the betterment of the country. Many of this year’s Knighthoods have been given to doctors of science, medicine and education, and Henry is one of 29 Knights Bachelor recipients.

Henry is very devoted to Comic Relief and thanks everyone who has helped.

“This is not just for me, this is for everyone who has done something for Comic Relief,” he said.

For more information about Henry’s work with Comic Relief, visit the charity’s website. For additional information about The Queen’s Birthday Honors, visit

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Comic Relief, Comic Relief, Comic Relief, Comic Relief, Look to the Stars, UK Government 1, UK Government 2
Photo: Mirror


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with his wife Priscilla, has donated $25 million to help eradicate the Ebola epidemic sweeping the world. According to a Forbes article that quoted Zuckerberg, the disease has already infected 8,400 people and is projected to infect over a million in the coming months if it continues at this rate.

The money donated by Zuckerberg will be put toward the Center for Disease Control’s Global Disaster Response Fund. The money will support safe burials, services for the dead, the training of more medical staff, medical supplies and more. Approximately 150 members of the CDC will be heading to West Africa to address the issue in person.

Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio.”

Ebola has quickly become a topic of concern, constantly permeating airwaves and worrying the majority of the world. Accordingly, there are other wealthy philanthropists reaching out in the campaign against this deadly disease.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $50 million to U.N. agencies and other groups giving supplies to those suffering from Ebola. Bill Gates’ business partner, Paul Allen, initiated the Tackle Ebola campaign, setting an example by giving $20 million. Allen strongly remarks, “A winnable battle should never be lost.”

Zuckerberg is considered one of the top philanthropists in the United States, he is involved in various charities and willing to donate financially. With contributions like Zukerberg’s, Ebola relief efforts can advance.

Kathleen Lee

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes
Photo: Flickr

Institute for International Medicine Partnerships for Children is an organization dedicated to preventing and combating the harm that comes to children through violence, disease, hunger and neglect.

INMED Partnerships for Children values taking a holistic approach to improve children’s health worldwide through addressing the causes of disease and hunger and attempting to remedy them from the source. INMED is dedicated in implementing long-term solutions to enhance both the quality and longevity of children’s lives.

Founded 27 years ago, INMED has stuck by its original goal of helping to improve the health and safety of children all over the globe.  Led by President and CEO Linda Pfeiffer, INMED has been targeting programs and delivering care to help children in both urban and rural areas of the world.  INMED also has offices worldwide, in places such as Virginia, Peru, Brazil, South Africa and the Caribbean.

INMED has partnered with a diverse group of companies in order to make sure they best spread their mission. They have partnered with companies such as Macy’s, the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the International Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, Kids in Distressed Situations, Johnson and Johnson and many more.

INMED maps out large areas they want to improve and then tailors specific projects to fall into those categories. These broader categories include health and nutrition, youth development, education and skill building, and adaptive agriculture and aquaponics.

One of INMEDs upcoming events will be the 2015 Harvest the Future International Conference, which is set to take place June 14-17, 2015 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Experts from across the globe will gather at this conference in order to discuss possible solutions to problems such as water scarcity, income generation sustainable livelihoods, nutrition and health, food security and climate change adaptation.

Conference speakers include Christopher Somerville, an Urban Agriculture Consultant at Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, Denise A. Herbol, Mission Director at US Agency for International Development, and Thad M. Jackson, Executive Vice President of INMED Partnership.

Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: INMED, INMED 2, INMED 3, Middleburg Women
Photo: Zimbio

Reasons To Give to Charity
In every place around the world regardless of religious tradition, culture and language, giving to others has always been an idea encouraged for thousands of years. From Lao Tzu to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Prophet Mohammed to St. Thomas Aquinas, the importance of giving to others has been written and spoken about extensively.

Yet, despite the long history of giving, many people today do not donate to any cause for various reasons. It may be that they are unsure how to navigate the vast array of organizations and causes, or that they are hesitant about how their money will be used, or simply they don’t realize what benefit it has on others.

As Aristotle said:

“To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.”

Giving is easy, but why and where to give are difficult questions to answer. Listed below are five great reasons why people should give to charity. Deciding where and how much is a personal decision, but there is not much to argue with when it comes to why. In fact, with Americans donating $335.17 billion in 2013 there seems to be some very good reasons for donating.

1. Sense of Purpose

Giving to charity helps you participate in a cause you feel strongly about. Even if you don’t have the time to volunteer, charitable gifts go a long way in helping organizations operate and impact those they help.

In addition, studies show that people who give to charity are happier people. So when faced with the decision of whether to buy an unneeded new pair of shoes or donate that money to a cause, choose the cause. You may not get new shoes, but you’ll be much happier in the long run.

2. You can make a difference

While it may seem that a small donation won’t make a big difference, however even small gifts can have a big impact.

For instance, through programs like Kiva, a nonprofit micro-lender, individuals can loan as little as $25 to help impoverished, would-be entrepreneurs in the developing world start a small business. Many of these people do not have access to a strong banking sector so these loans provide are a great method of empowerment.

To date Kiva has had 860,000 individual lenders participate and has a 99 percent loan payback rate.

3. Donations are often tax-deductible

Giving to money to most charitable organizations has the added benefit of being tax deductible. There are approximately 1, 536,084 charitable organizations in the U.S. according to 2013 data, which means that are plenty of places for people to give.

What does this mean in concrete terms? If someone were to give $100 to a tax-exempt organization of their choice, the donation may actually only turn out to be $65 or less due to tax refunds. The donation not only benefits the organization, but also the individual giving.

4. Matching Gifts can have a big impact

A great way to give to charity is to find an organization or corporation that will do a matching gift. Matching gifts are when a company will match dollar-for-dollar what their employee gives; maximizing the impact of the gift as well as creating a positive image for the company.

Corporations like General Electric, Gap Inc., Boeing, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft all offer some of the best employee matching gift programs.

5. Create a budget, plan ahead

Whether its $25 or $2500, donations are possible from every budget. Plan a charity budget that allows for a donation each year. Even two percent of your yearly income can make a big difference. For someone making $30,000, that could be around $500 – all of which can be deductible!

Before giving to charity, be sure to do research. Numerous websites exist to help potential donors find out what organizations are most legitimate and what cause they think could benefit most. Like all things in life, research will not only make potential donors better informed, but will also maximize the impact for each donation.

– Andrea Blinkhorn

Sources: Sweating the Big Stuff, Dime Spring, Giving What We Can, Gaiam, The Guardian,Bank Rate, NP Trust, Live Science
Photo: Business2Community

International Day of Charity
September 5 will mark the second annual United Nations International Day of Charity, a day on which the U.N. encourages the world’s citizens to raise awareness and donate time to charitable acts. The U.N. General Assembly created the Day under Resolution 67/105 in 2012 “to promote charitable activities around the world.” The GA selected the date to honor Mother Teresa, who dedicated much of her life to charity and who passed on September 5, 1997. “Donations of time or money; volunteer engagement in one’s own community or on the other side of the world; acts of caring and kindness with no thought of recompense; these and other expressions of global solidarity help us in our shared quest to live together in harmony and build a peaceful future for all,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Here are a couple of ways to celebrate the Day:

Volunteer Close to Home

Explore websites like Volunteer Match that allow its users to browse volunteer opportunities based on location and interests. A 2001 U.N. report claims volunteering grows social networks, increases self-esteem, develops skills important to future employment opportunities, gives volunteers a sense of purpose, and equates to a U.S. economic benefit of $225 billion per year. To volunteer with the spirit of International Day of Charity to the fullest extent, volunteer without any intention of including the experience on a resume. Choosing to volunteer for an issue or organization for which you are passionate, could lead you to continue the effort even after the Day of Charity.

Log On to Social Media

With Social Media connecting millions of people around the world, it is now easier than ever to advocate at the grassroots level. The Blackbaud Index estimates the nonprofit sector raised $22 billion online in 2011. Starting an online fundraising campaign to share with your friends and followers can raise funds for a noble cause and inform others about the issue. However, if those of you with social media accounts do nothing else to celebrate International Day of Charity, like their Facebook page and follow @IntDayOfCharity. Supporters can tweet using #CharityDayUN, share the website of their favorite charity or volunteer organization, or share articles relating to the Day of Charity.


Americans gave $335.17 billion to charity last year alone, and the U.N. would like to see a spike in that giving in September. But beyond giving directly to your organization of choice, try involving more people in donating for the Day of Charity. A door-to-door food drive for a local soup kitchen is another chance to remind others about the upcoming Day and encourage them to participate. Those who may not be able to give monetarily could consider sorting through old clothes and household items to donate to organizations like the Salvation Army.

However you choose to celebrate the International Day of Charity, remember to, as Ki-Moon says, “recognize charity for what it is at heart: a noble enterprise aimed at bettering the human condition.”

– Erica Lignell

Sources: Facebook, United Nations, United Nations 2, Twitter, Volunteer Match, Market Watch, Olympic Information Center, Deseret News
Photo: Calls Free Calls