Gifts that Keep Giving

On a whim, I decided to rearrange the furniture. My curious toddler almost immediately afterwards started bumping into doors that were normally open. He would go to play areas looking for toys, that had been relocated. It seemed as though he was going to places from memory rather than by sight. My son was two and therefore unable to clearly communicate what was happening. It was obvious that something was not quite right.

After getting him in with the doctor, seeing multiple specialists and several exploratory surgeries, we discovered he had developed cataracts in both of his tiny little eyes. The doctors were able to tell us that it wasn’t something that he was born with. To this day we don’t know what caused them to develop or the symptoms that began to plague his vision. He is 19 now, legally blind and since the initial discovery he has had upwards of 60 (<– no typo) procedures on his eyes. A few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with glaucoma.

Growing up, we never held him back from doing anything he wanted to do (ex. baseball, football, basketball, playing the guitar). For a long time I had moments (alright, sometimes a lot more than moments) were I felt so terrible that he had to miss out on some of the things growing up (ie. getting a drivers license) and worried about what his future would like (ie. Would he be able to work? Live on his own?). Honestly though I do hate it for him. On the other hand, I am so incredibly grateful. I’m so thankful that he doesn’t have a life threatening illness. I am so incredibly blessed to have him in my life. Now, I see that his visual impairment was indeed a blessing. Without it, I doubt if he would have discovered he could hear a song once and within an hour or so play it back for you on the guitar. He may not have discovered his passion for music, or his innate talent for playing the guitar so early in life or his strength and determination. He’s in college studying music so that he can follow his passion and eventually teach children with disabilities to play the guitar. He is able to get around town, date, work, do laundry, cook and survive just fine without me by by his side. What more could a Mom ask for?

You might be asking yourself, “I thought this was a post about giving back, why is she telling me about her son”? The reason I mentioned this is because, my son is the reason I got involved with volunteering, charity organizations and supporting causes.

During the season of giving it is only fitting that I mention several easy ways to give that continue to give throughout the year. Whether you choose to volunteer or donate money there are a multitude of worthy charities and causes that do fantastic work throughout the year. There are even some surprisingly effortless ways to support some of these causes as well!

Here are several of my favorites:

New View OklahomaThey offer diabetes education managing low vision, Keys to Work-a program to assist high schoolers to prepare them for independent living and job-readiness, OWL Camp-a summer camp for blind and low vision children, as well as other community programs, a vision clinic and jobs for visually impaired individuals.
National Federation of the BlindOffers many programs and resources for blind and low vision individuals including free white canes, braille literacy, advocacy, scholarships, legal services, and summer camps.
Glaucoma Research FoundationA clinical research organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma.
Two Blind BrothersBrothers that were diagnosed with Stargardt disease, which causes blindness. They started a company that sells goods catered to blind and low vision individuals. However, they aren’t exclusively for the visually impaired, they actually have some really cool stuff. You can even “shop blind” online. 100% of the proceeds go towards charitable funding and research for retinal eye disease cures.
Pause ForApp that can be downloaded to your phone that allows you to select an amount of time that you want to pause your screen time to increase productivity. When you pause your screen time for the allotted amount of time you earn cryptocurrency which you use to buy items for the charity of your choice.
Charity MilesApp that can be downloaded to your phone that allows you to pick a charity to donate earned miles to. How it works: The app tracks your movement (like a Fitbit) and for each mile you move, you earn real money for the charity of your choice. The money comes from notable corporate sponsors that allocate a portion of their media budgets to Charity Miles, allowing you to ultimately choose where those dollars are donated.
Operation EngagementEducational mission to engage student learning through fun inquiry-based, hands on learning that gets kids thinking outside of the box. They provide programming and resources for teachers, which they loan out for free to facilitate the educational experience. There are currently 16 kits teachers can choose from with many more coming soon! You can donate funds online and follow them on Facebook for posts regarding specific material needs.

As the days grow closer to the 25th of December. The list of things to do and gifts to buy seems endless. Do yourself a favor and help others at the same time! Consider volunteering, donating or simply downloading an app that will give back to others. If you do have to get out to do some last minute shopping, please show kindness to those working-You know how much you don’t want to be there (and you’re only there for a relatively short amount of time), just imagine how much they would like to be at home as well. Showing kindness to others is in itself an act of charity.

If your favorite charity or cause isn’t mentioned above, please leave a comment with a link for others to check out. Happy Holidays to you and yours! Merry Christmas! Much love! ~ Gin

Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on

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