Behind the Scenes Photo: What We Did With All That Flour And Sugar

December 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm , by

Have you read Emily Sandford’s story in our December/January issue yet? Here’s a little tease: “I’ve been fat my whole life. I was a chubby kid, an obese teenager and at 24 I weighed 445 pounds. I’m still big so this is definitely not your typical miracle makeover article. But it is a story of hope because I’ve finally realized that I had to change how I felt inside before I could change the outside. I’m learning to love myself. And I’m already 113 pounds lighter.” If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, click here.

That’s Emily on the left, me in the middle and LHJ photo director Clare Lissaman on the right. And that big pile of 5-pound bags of flour and sugar in front of us? Our props for Emily’s photo shoot. At her highest weight, Emily was as heavy as 91 of those brick-like bags, which we used in the photos to symbolize all she’s conquered since beginning her weight-loss journey a few years ago.

After the shoot, we donated all of it to the Food Bank For New York City, which provides programs and services to 1.5 million New Yorkers in need.

Disney and Toys for Tots Go Way Back

December 3, 2013 at 8:30 am , by

Fun fact: Walt Disney and his animators personally designed the original Toys for Tots train logo that’s still used today. You can check it out while you’re participating in our Virtual Toy Drive, which is running this week on behalf of Toys for Tots.

All you have to do is click “LIKE” on our Facebook feature of Disney’s awesome Planes Dusty Crophopper toy and Disney will contribute – up to $5,000 in value – toys to kids this holiday season through the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation!

Disney has supported the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation since 1947, helping to bring joy to kids during the holiday season. Click here to learn more about their efforts to promote the happiness and wellbeing of kids and families!

Help Build-A-Bear Workshop Spread Holiday Cheer With Toys For Tots

December 2, 2013 at 8:30 am , by

If you’ve checked out our Virtual Toy Drive and want to do more to help, our friends at Build-A-Bear Workshop have more ways to help the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation!

We love the annual Build-A-Bear Workshop Toys for Tots Toy Drive, which will take place December 6 – 8. You can donate new, unwrapped toys at stores across the United States or make and purchase a stuffed animal to donate. Throughout the weekend, volunteer members of the U.S. Marine Corp will be on hand at select stores to collect the toys, which will then be distributed to local kids in need.

You can also make a monetary donation to support Toys for Tots at checkout registers and online at throughout the holiday season. The donations will be used to provide toys for children who might not otherwise receive a gift on Christmas morning.

Can’t Grow a Stache? You Can Still Support Movember!

November 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by

Are the men in your town noticeably fuzzier these days? Has your guy’s razor been abandoned for weeks? That’s because it’s Movember, darlings! This time of year men all over the country band together in mustache mayhem to grow their whiskers in support of prostate cancer research,education, and awareness.

More than 3 million men (Mo Bros) and women (Mo Sistas as we’re lovingly called) participate in this worthy fundraising effort. According to the official Movember website, the funds raised in November “support world-class men’s health programs that combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.” All of these programs are directed by the Movember Foundation and “are focused on awareness and education, living with and beyond cancer, staying mentally healthy, living with and beyond mental illness and research to achieve our vision of an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.”

If you want to help in the effort to stop cancer and promote education, you can donate directly through the Movember site or purchase some of these amazing products. Proceeds from each benefit the Movember Foundation.

Method Soap for Hope
Not only do Method’s male employees grow mustaches and raise money for Movember each year, but also, the company is making a donation to the Movember Foundation. To raise awareness they’ve created two new hand washes available at grocery stores across the country that feature the “Soap for Hope” tag.

TOMS Movember Grey Suede Men’s Classics
One of our favorite do-good retailers, Toms Shoes, is also getting in on the Movember mania with mustache-adorned shoes to benefit the cause.
Buy them here

The Movember Collection Mo Army Girls’ Tee
If you want to show your support in style, check out this tee from the Movember site. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to cancer research and education.
Buy it here

Become a Mentor

September 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm , by

Fall season’s in full swing and I can’t help but reminisce about high school. Senior year to be exact. Who can forget the whirlwind of emotions: Regents exams, acne, boyfriends, breakups. The list goes on. But perhaps the most stressful time of year was those painstaking few months before graduation, where all of life depended on whether or not I made it into the university of my choice.

This is where a good mentor comes in handy. She’s often your ally and your guide through every hurdle you’ll soon face before entering the grand halls of college: mounts of school applications, reference letters, nauseating financial aid forms, personal essays, etc. For the average 17-year-old from a working-class household, these are daunting tasks. 

Debi Lee (right) with co-mentor Ryan Breir and Indira Lopez Cruz

Debi Lee is one of many dedicated mentors at Minds Matter, a national non-profit organization that shepherds highly motivated, low-income high school students starting sophomore year. “An old roommate of mine asked me to co-mentor with her in 1996 and I’ve been doing it ever since, ” says Lee, a corporate bank executive in New York City. “My parents told my brother and I that the main reason they migrated to the U.S. from South Korea was for us to get a good education. They used to post rankings of Ivy League schools in the kitchen so we’d see it every day.” 

For many students with parents who work long hours, aspiring to top schools, even with a stellar grade point average, is a huge challenge. At Minds Matter, more than 1,400 new and experienced volunteers are dedicated to helping 500-plus young people reach their college dreams.

“It’s been an amazing process,” says Lee. “I look forward to the day when one of my mentees becomes a mentor through Minds Matter. It would accomplish the full circle I have in mind.”



The Best Target Collaboration Yet

June 21, 2013 at 8:00 am , by

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denim shirt, $28 (22 meals), tank, $15 (12 meals), backpack, $35 (28 meals), bracelet, $8 (6 meals)

We’re super excited about Target’s latest collaboration, this time with FEED Projects, the humanitarian organization founded by Lauren Bush Lauren, to create the FEED USA + Target collection. The limited-time-only collection includes more than 50 products, from home goods to clothing to accessories, which will benefit Feeding America and fight hunger in the U.S. Each product displays the number of meals that will be donated to children and families through Feeding America when purchased.

You can bet we have our eye on this comfy and totally cute red fleece zip-up (above). At just $25, each fleece’s purchase provides 20 meals to Americans in need. Now that’s a shopping initiative we can get behind. Get yours, and other FEED USA + Target collection products, starting June 30 at Target stores and


Help Spread the Word About Maternal Mortality

April 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm , by

What does supermodel Christy Turlington Burns have in common with women in Malawi, Haiti and Guatemala? Nine years ago, Burns had a hemorrhage after the birth of her daughter. She recovered, but she learned that the same complication she survived kills thousands of women each year, mainly because they don’t have access to basic care.

“That shocked me,” said Burns, speaking last week about global maternal mortality at the Women in the World Summit. “Pregnancy is not a disease, yet 15 percent of all pregnancies result in a life-threatening complication.” (That’s her in the center, speaking with other panel members. You can get the full recap here.)

You may be thinking, as I was as I sat in the audience, that this is only a problem in far-off villages, not here in the United States where we have hospitals and prenatal care. But it turns out the rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. has doubled in the past 20 years, and we now have a higher rate of death in childbirth than Bosnia and Kuwait.

On top of that, the number of women who have complications but don’t die—what experts call “near misses”—are on the rise. “In the U.S. right now, about 52,000 pregnant women a year, or one every 10 minutes, will have a serious problem,” says ob-gyn Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers, Merck’s initiative to end maternal death in childbirth. Merck for Mothers sponsored the panel. The most common complications are hemorrhage, preeclampsia and blood clots, all of which can have lifelong health consequences. For example, preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy, can raise your risk for heart disease later on. “Ninety percent of these cases are preventable, but there is a huge lack of awareness, even in the United States,” says Dr. Agrawal.

Organizations like Merck for Mothers and Every Mother Counts (founded by Burns in 2010) are working to improve and standardize care in the United States and beyond so that all pregnancies and births can be joyous occasions. Meanwhile, there are simple ways you can help.

Watch Christy Turlington Burns’ Documentary No Woman, No Cry
The film follows four stories from Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States to show you everything you need to know about the issue. You can download it on iTunes, buy the DVD or get in touch with Every Woman Counts to arrange a screening in your area. Get all the info here.

Share Your Birth Story on the Merck for Mothers Facebook page
Did you have a complication? Like the Merck for Mothers page on Facebook to share your story, get the facts and help the organization spread awareness.

Photo by Marc Byron Brown