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Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Jewelry for Charity Recap & May Kick-Off

Wow, guys. I continue to be grateful and amazed for the love you have shown for each of my two Etsy shops. April set a new sales record for me, and you know what that means - big bucks for one of my favorite nonprofits - Vegan Outreach! To everyone who helped make this month a success, both for me as an artist, and for the awesome folks pounding the pavement over at Vegan Outreach in support of animals, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This month we raised (drum roll, please)... a whopping $646 for charity!!! Not only is this my biggest monthly donation yet, it also marks what feels like a significant milestone for me in my fund raising work - this month, I surpassed $10,000 in donations since the beginning of my Jewelry for Charity project in May of 2007. Not bad for two years' work! I couldn't do it without all of you, so thanks again; it really means a lot to me.

For those who may not be familiar with the work Vegan Outreach does, they are basically a group that advocates for animals by spreading the word about the benefits of a vegan diet and exposing the cruelty that takes place on modern factory farms. They have done a lot of research to find out what ways of reaching out to people are most effective, and have determined that leafleting, especially at colleges, is the best way to encourage positive changes for farmed animals, so this is one of their main focus areas.

Since we're on the topic of Vegan Outreach, I have a little something else to share with you all - something I hope you'll consider supporting alongside me. I have decided to participate in the Team Vegan program organized by Vegan Outreach. It's a training team based in the San Francisco bay area with free professional running coaching leading up to participants competing in either a 5k, half marathon, or full marathon in July.

People like me who live too far away to participate in the actual race are encouraged to participate remotely, keeping in touch with team members online, following the same training schedule, and with virtual access to the professional coaches working with the team. The point of all of this, aside from better health, is to raise funds for Vegan Outreach through sponsorships (that's where you come in; more on that in a moment).

Now, for those of you who know me in real life, I know it's hard to believe that I have become a runner*, but it's really true! I've never been the athletic type; from my earliest school days, I have avoided competitive sports like the plague. And even now, I really have no desire to 'compete' per se; it's just fun to challenge myself to do more and go farther than I ever have before. Up until now, my usual running routine has been three miles, three times a week. This is my first week training with Team Vegan (I'm shooting for either a 10k (6.2 miles) or a half marathon; I haven't decided yet), and so far I've done two four-mile runs and am planning on completing my first ever five mile run this Sunday.

* In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that while I use the term 'running,' in reality, what I actually do is much more like a slow jog. :-)

These feet were made for... running???

Anyways, I hope that you might be moved by the efforts of this extremely-unathletic vegan attempting to become healthier and more active, and consider supporting the awesome work that Vegan Outreach does by sponsoring me through the Team Vegan website. Any little bit helps; I know times are tough, but remember that the animals need our help now more than ever - they pay every day with their lives, so please do what you can to help them out!

Whew! Okay, enough about Vegan Outreach. I mean, they are amazing and all, but onwards and upwards... May has arrived, and my featured charity this month is the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights. I am trying to channel my frustration over the passage of Prop 8 last November, as well as my outrage over the brutal attack earlier this year on Nathan Runkle, founder and director of animal rights group Mercy for Animals, who also happens to be gay, towards something more positive by beginning to feature equal rights charities from time to time along with my other favorite causes (animal rights, vegan education/outreach, and womens/childrens issues).

The Human Rights Campaign has an awesome website with tons of informative features, including a short daily video broadcast called 'Equally Speaking - your daily dose of LGBT news from the Human Rights Campaign', as well as an interactive state-by-state listing of local news and events. So check it out, get involved, and remember that 5% any money you spend in either my bead shop or my jewelry shop this month will go straight to supporting equal rights.

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