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Better To Give

The Uncommon Life

Storytelling with 826 National:
Meet the Garcia Family

November 27, 2017

*Editor’s note: Here at UncommonGoods, we’re counting down to Giving Tuesday—an annual day of giving back observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—by sharing stories from our Better to Give partners. Up this week, with our final story: our newest partner, 826 National, introduced in July of this year. Today, we’re proud to share a video that highlights the story of the Garcia family, whose children have flourished with help from 826LA.

Meet Katherine Garcia, her brother, and her mom, Juvenita Martinez, residents of the Mar Vista neighborhood in Los Angeles. In the above video, created by 826 National, Katherine tells us about her ambitions to write—and Juvenita shares how 826LA’s unique programs have helped her children excel in school and among their peers.

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The Uncommon Life

Sharing Survivors’ Stories with RAINN

November 13, 2017

*Editor’s note 1/18/2018: We originally shared Samentha’s story in our countdown to Giving Tuesday. Today, we celebrate Samentha’s courage to speak out and we share her story again as part of our Keep Marching campaign. All profits from our Keep Marching Necklace sold on January 20 and 21, 2018 will be donated to RAINN.

*Editor’s note: Here at UncommonGoods, we’re counting down to Giving Tuesday—an annual day of giving back observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—by sharing stories from our Better to Give partners. Up this week: RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Through our Better to Give program, which allows you to choose a non-profit partner at checkout to receive a $1 donation at no additional cost to you, we’ve donated over $350,000 to RAINN since beginning our partnership in 2010. Today, we’re proud to share a story from Samentha Moore, a participant in RAINN’s survivor series.

“It’s a beautiful thing, to be a survivor of something so heinous.”

“I felt like a broken record. It was embarrassing for me. I told people after the first and the second…but after the third [rape] I felt like a freak show,” said Samentha Moore. Samentha’s experience with multiple incidents of sexual assault by a stranger left her feeling self-conscious and blaming herself.

“Even for the longest time after my second rape, I hated leather jackets because he had a black leather jacket on, so that was something that triggered.”

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The Uncommon Life

Counting Down to Giving Tuesday
with America’s Iconic Cats
(and American Forests)

November 6, 2017

*Editor’s note, April 2018: To count down to Giving Tuesday last year, we shared stories from our Better to Give partners. First up was American Forests, the country’s oldest conservation organization and our longest-standing non-profit partner, with a tale of ocelot recovery through forest restoration. Through our Better to Give program, which allows you to choose a non-profit partner at checkout to receive a $1 donation at no additional cost to you, we’ve donated over $485,000 to American Forests since 2010. And now that it’s Earth Month, we’re sharing their story anew.

Biologists from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) stumbled upon an ocelot den site, where they observed a three-week-old male kitten. Credit: USFWS

Written by Eric Sprague, American Forests Director of Forest Conservation Programs

Just before Christmas last December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) posted cat photos on their website. While everyone loves cat photos, they aren’t exactly noteworthy in their own right. Except these were not your typical cat photos.

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The Uncommon Life

RAINN and the Rape Kit Backlog

September 21, 2017

Editor’s Note: Today—September 21, 2017—is RAINN Day, an annual day of action designed to raise awareness and provide education to college students about sexual violence on campus. Although we’re not exactly a campus, we’ve chosen today to pay special tribute to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, better known as RAINN, with whom we’ve proudly partnered for nearly a decade. Read on for more on how you can help RAINN with one of their most urgent, challenging initiatives: addressing the rape kit backlog in the US.

Across the US, an estimated 100,000-plus rape kits sit untested in crime labs, evidence rooms, and police headquarters. Although these kits contain DNA evidence with the potential to solve crimes of sexual violence and identify repeat offenders, they remain untouched, often for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint. In a world where 1 in 6 American women (and 1 in 33 men) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, DNA evidence is an invaluable asset—one we can’t afford to let languish in storage. And that’s why RAINN, our Better to Give partner of seven years, needs your help.

RAINN’s work on the rape kit backlog spans years, and includes efforts to raise awareness of the issue by educating lawmakers and the general public. Still, there remains a great deal to be done in every state. Our causes page provides detailed information on the scope of the problem, with links to case studies and survivor resources and a simple form that allows you to contact your representatives directly in support of funding to address the issue.

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The Uncommon Life

Americares: Responding to Hurricane Devastation

August 31, 2017

UPDATE 9/25/2017: Americares emergency teams have been deployed to Puerto Rico and Dominica in the Caribbean. The organization has been working with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to stock emergency shelters in San Juan with medical equipment and supplies. As of last week, Americares has provided $9 million in medicines, supplies, and other assistance to more than 50 partners in Texas, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin to help survivors of the recent storms.

UPDATE 9/19/2017: Earlier this week, Americares airlifted $1.8 million in critical medicines and medical supplies for Hurricane Irma survivors throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm, is predicted to plow through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting this evening. Visit americares.org for more updates on emergency response efforts for those caught in this hurricane season’s devastating paths.

UPDATE 9/11/2017: Americares has deployed emergency response experts to assist in relief efforts for communities in the path of Hurricane Irma. Before it reached Florida over the weekend, Hurricane Irma killed more than 25 people in the Caribbean and devastated several islands, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Click here to learn more about Americares response to Hurricane Irma.

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The Uncommon Life

Why it’s Better to Give
with 826 National

July 9, 2017

“Once upon a time there was a sheep named Oddy. He was a regular sheep in the grasslands with all the other sheep. Then, one day he fell in the Arctic sea, and he saw a big wave. It pushed him to shore towards a cyclops’s cave. Oddy took big steps towards the cave. The cyclops had a superpower that could turn anyone into a cyclops like him.”

Pretty intriguing first paragraph, right? It was written by Wahaaj, a young creative writing student who “likes pizza and french fries, and he loves to spell Mississippi.”

Wahaaj’s story is funny, imaginative, and might not exist without the help of our newest Better to Give partner, 826 National. Through their network of seven—soon to be eight—chapters across the US, 826 National has helped thousands of kids like Wahaaj let their imaginations run free, develop writing skills, and build confidence. The non-profit organization takes an uncommon, but extremely effective, approach to teaching writing to students age 6-18. They are passionate about their mission “to empower students with the skills to write their own paths forward, undefined by circumstance.” The 826 Network believes in the power of making learning fun, and the power that quality education can have in influencing children’s lives. All of this, along with their clever storefronts, dedicated staff and volunteers, free programs, and general ability to make every person who learns about them proclaim something along the lines of, “That is SO cool!” made us realize that we really, really wanted to join forces with them.

Now that 826 National is a part of our Better to Give program, you can select them to receive a $1 donation from us (at no cost to you) each time you shop at UncommonGoods. These donations will help 826 Network writing and tutoring centers across the country provide services to kids in under-resourced communities.

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Design

Designing a Force for Good: Behind the Scenes of Our Hope Shines Necklace

June 30, 2017

 

For 16 years, we here at UncommonGoods have demonstrated a commitment to supporting causes we care about through our Better to Give Program, an initiative that allows us to donate $1 from each purchase to a non-profit partner of your choice (and at no additional cost to you). Earlier this year, our Product Development team joined forces with one of our longest-standing Better to Give partners, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to craft a unique item of jewelry to benefit their organization. The result—our Hope Shines Necklace—is an elegant emblem of what RAINN stands for, symbolizing hope, reflection, and triumph over darkness. But how did we arrive at this design?

 

 

The process was a long one—about four months—but our team began with a few ideas in mind. At first, they used text as a springboard, attempting to translate everything from statistics—like RAINN’s assertion that every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted—to the number for the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline into wearable pieces of jewelry. Soon, however, they broadened their approach, exploring ways to highlight some of the more general themes associated with RAINN’s mission, like hope, forward motion, and the ongoing nature of one’s story.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Values: Our Guiding Principles

June 21, 2017

What makes a workplace great? Your knee-jerk response might focus on salary and benefits, but we all know it’s more than that. Do you feel challenged? Are you encouraged to grow? Do you have a say in your company’s direction? Do you feel like it’s your company? Do you like your co-workers? We’ve had the goal of being a great place to work for a long time, but that can mean different things to different people. We realized that in order to actually make it happen and in turn become a stronger, more impactful business, we had to figure out what “great place to work” meant to us.

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Through discussions with our leadership, work with our human resources team and a trusted advisor, looking at the practices of businesses we admire, and a lot of feedback from team members across the company, we put who we want to be as an organization into words with our seven Guiding Principles.

Each of our Principles helps us define what we’re working to be as a company, and what we want to mean to the people who work here. In short, they’re a set of guidelines to keep us all moving in the same direction. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be differences of opinion expressed. In fact, the Principles are set up to empower folks around here to do just that.

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