In honor of Thanksgiving, we're taking a moment to round up a few non-profits that are doing some serious good across the country. All of them were founded by incredibly talented wedding professionals. The best part? Many of these organizations are flooded with volunteers from the weddings industry. Check out a rundown of each organization and then consider donating your time or resources to one of these very good causes.
1. The Birthday Party Project
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Founder: Paige Chenault, former Dallas-based wedding and events planner
Mission: To bring joy to homeless children through the magic of birthdays.
The Back Story: "I had $4 million in business and was pregnant with my daughter, Lizzie. Taking a rare day off, I was on a plane to visit a friend, reading an article about birthday parties, and I got excited imagining the Pinterest-worthy bashes I’d throw my child. Then I turned to another magazine. Staring back at me like a smack in the face was an image of a little boy with no shoes on. He was in Haiti, and chaos was everywhere around him. It was like he was staring straight at me—big, wide eyes filled with despair. It was a punch in the gut: What about him? I thought. Who is going to celebrate him the way that I’ll celebrate Lizzie?
When I got home, I immediately told my husband I wanted to do something. He was supportive but also reminded me: “You have 32 events on the books—and by the way, you’re having a baby!” So I tabled the idea. But in my mind I kept seeing that boy." (As told to Glamour.com)
By the Numbers: They have more than 9,000 volunteers and have celebrated more than 3,000 birthdays across the country.
Volunteer and Learn More: TheBirthdayPartyProject.org
2. Wish Upon A Wedding
Founder: Liz Guthrie, former Northern California-based wedding planner
Mission: To provide couples who have endured far greater challenges than many of us could ever imagine to marry. Wish Upon a Wedding also aims to allow countless of other wedding and hospitality professionals, to help people celebrate love, while encouraging those in the event planning industries to give selflessly to others
The Back Story: "In 2009, founder, Liz Guthrie, was producing a large scale wedding giveaway in San Francisco, she realized that there are so many couples in need, and so many generous business owners offering to donate their time and services to a deserving couple. She found herself wishing there was a way to donate dream weddings to couples across the country. Out of the 350 couples that entered the giveaway, one bride-to-be stood out in her mind.
Vanessa was battling Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while her fiancé, an officer in the US Air Force, was deployed overseas. This couple won the Giveaway through public voting, and it was their Love Story that ultimately inspired the creation of Wish Upon a Wedding. Liz felt that there was so many other couples that deserved a day away from their illness." (as told on the organization's website)
By the numbers: With chapters all across the country, local wedding businesses step it up to donate their time and resources to help couples celebrate their weddings. So far, according to their website, Wish Upon a Wedding has granted just under 100 wedding wishes.
Volunteer and learn more: WishUponAWedding.org
3. Brides Across America
Founder: Heidi Janson, owner of Andover, Massachusetts-based bridal salon, Tulle Bridal
Mission: To provide wedding dresses for military couples facing deployments, financial hardships and other challenges unique to servicemen and women.
The Back Story: "In 2008. Heidi Janson founded Brides Across America. She was inspired to do something special to express gratitude for the dedicated men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Brides Across America began its work with a small network that donated time and resources to head up the inaugural program. In that first year fifty gowns were given away to military brides."
"Brides Across America plays a role in making their dreams come true by giving a military bride a free wedding gown during a Brides Across America's Nationwide Gown Giveaway. Events are held twice a year in partnership with bridal salons across the country." (from the organization's website)
By The Numbers: According to their website, Brides Across America (in collaboration with bridal salons, designers, and individual donations) has donated more than 14,000 wedding gowns and 20 weddings.
Volunteer and Learn More: BridesAcrossAmerica.org
4. The Confetti Foundation
Founder: Stephanie Frazier Grimm, owner of Rhode Island-based Couture Parties
Mission: To supply birthday parties to children who have to spend their birthdays in the hospital.
The Back Story: "The idea for The Confetti Foundation was developed in 2010 when Stephanie Frazier Grimm’s best friend’s baby was born 8 weeks premature with many complications. Stephanie’s friend spent hours every day driving to the hospitals neonatal intensive care unit with her toddler and husband to visit “Baby C” as he gradually grew stronger.
During those long drives, Stephanie and her friend would talk about their families, the weather, their jobs, the good times they had in college, and anything else that served as a distraction. One conversation led to baby C’s hospital “buddy” who was going home and finally getting to have a birthday celebration.
Stephanie wondered what happened when children are in the hospital on their birthdays. Do they have a party? She discovered the answer was almost always “no.” Parents with sick children are only thinking about their children getting healthy, not leaving their sides to gather supplies and put together a birthday party. Typically, birthday celebrations take place when a child comes home.
Stephanie also remembered having to spend her own 13th birthday in the hospital and wanted to make a change.
In January 2014, The Confetti Foundation started supplying birthday party kits to children who spend their birthdays in the hospital. Through the party kits, children of all ages are celebrated and honored on their special day." (from the organization's website)
By The Numbers: Each birthday party box costs about $25 (includes the making and producing of the supplies as well as shipping boxes to the hospitals). As of August 2016, 1500 boxeshave been packaged and shipped to 141 hospitals across 43 states, according to the foundation's website.
Volunteer and Learn More: TheConfettiFoundation.org
5. Brides for a Cause
Founder: Erin Scharf, former PR and events manager of Brides Against Breast Cancer
Mission: To collect and resell wedding dresses to raise funds for charity.
The Back Story: "Originally founded as a for-profit business in 2012, Brides for a Cause recently became a nonprofit organization in 2016 to make a greater impact in the wedding industry. We are the only charity bridal store organization in the United States that isn’t tied to just one mission. Rather, our funds are dispersed among a variety of local and national charities that support and help women. This means, we are able to support a variety of nonprofit organizations from recycling wedding dresses, especially those our donors and brides believe in."
"Each month, we partner with various local and national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to provide financial support. Types of beneficiaries we fund include those that: Support women with serious health issues, specifically pertaining to the top two women killers: cancer and heart disease; promote positive self-image and self-esteem for young women; support women in the military; Provide relief for single mothers, abused women and women who are disabled; promote opportunities for women’s education and women in the workforce. (from the organization's website)
By The Numbers: Since 2012, the organization has consistently donated between $80,000-$115,000 a year to charity. In just 4 years, they collected over 6,000 wedding gowns and have donated over $415,000 to various women-focused charities around the country.
Volunteer and Leran More: BridesForACause.com
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