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What I Love with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

All My Children


Every year at this time, I share the story of a special charity that I support. Someone once said that “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts,” and I believe that’s true. It’s important to me to make the holiday season about how we can help one another in a dark and cold time of year.



This year, I’d like to tell you about my children. I am blessed with a family of stepchildren and grandchildren, all of whom I love dearly, but there is another family I hold in my heart. I have supported ChildFund International for years, and am now on my fourth sponsored child: a boy, Nikhil, in India. He has the same birthday as my stepson, Nick, September 10–that feels right to me. A connection from his family in India to my family here.



Here’s how it works: you select a child to sponsor on the ChildFund website, and they connect you with pictures of your child, and news of their progress. You learn about the geography of their country, the community structure and their social beliefs. You can write letters to your child, and they will write to you. Beyond material assistance, a bond is formed with a little person in need.



When my last sponsored child turned 19, finished school, and began working with his uncle, I was asked to take on a special case. This family was so poor that they couldn’t afford the father’s diabetes medication. He was unable to work, so the family had no income at all. The first photos of Nikhil broke my heart.



He was so thin, and shy, and fearful. All big eyes, looking frightened. Just a few years later, the letters, report cards, drawings, and photos show so much improvement! He stands tall and happy–even smiling! Nikhil and I correspond and I send photos of my family. His social worker sends me photos of the supplies he purchases for himself and his family with our birthday and holiday gifts. He’s so thoughtful–always a sari for Mom and work pants for Dad, and chocolates to share with his friends.



It’s been years now, and Nikhil is growing up, too. I’m always sad when I have to let them move on, but there’s always a new life to work with.



I usually sponsor a child from age 5 or so to 18 or 19. Chandra was my first, and Nikhil won’t be my last. They are all emblazoned in my memory.



“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”–W.T. Ellis


Watch a short video about ChildFund here. 


The Gift of a Blessing Bag

Young homeless man holding cardboard with painted house.

There’s a movement in the world toward helping the homeless in a very practical way. Many of us know the uncomfortable feeling of encountering a homeless person and wanting to help, but often, we aren’t sure how. Giving money is an option, although that’s discouraged by some mental health professionals and addiction counselors. Walking by and ignoring their plight doesn’t feel right.


Plastic transparent zipper bag isolated on white background


Someone along the way created a solution that I can embrace: the Blessing Bag. The idea is to take a extra large ziplock bag and fill it with essentials, then keep it in your car in the event that you encounter someone in need. It’s such a simple idea.


Toothbrushes in the drinking glass next to body lotion and neseser on the wet bench, outdoor shot, concept of travel


Items that you might put inside are basic tolietries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shavers and shaving cream, soap, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, and deodorant.


Woolen clothes for woman on old rustic wooden background, womanly accessories, gloves cap shawl sweater, warm clothing for autumn or winter


Other welcome items are gloves, hats, scarves, and socks–maybe a few pair–always top of the list of requested clothing in charity drives! (Imagine having wet feet and not having warm, dry socks to change into.) You may also consider tampons and sanitary pads for women, diapers for babies, cleaning wipes, and even condoms.


Granola bar with dried fruit and nuts on white background


Adding small food items such as crackers, peanut butter, fruit, nuts and other non-perishables will be helpful. Some people add some cash for bus fares or to pay for necessities they haven’t covered.


New York, USA - May 16, 2013: homeless man sleeping with dog on sidewalk on 8th Ave and 42th Street, Manhattan, NY.


Since some street people have pets, a small bag of dog food or treats might be appreciated, too. You can donate to organizations that help, for example, the National Coalition for the Homeless. But this is one way to help the person in need before you, especially at Christmas.


Sleeping on the streets at Christmas time


“It is only with true love and compassion that we can begin to mend what is broken in this world.” –Steve Maraboli