With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, February is the customarily lucrative “Season of Love” for florists and jewellers and restaurants and chocolate specialists as couples from all walks of life make go the extra mile to celebrate their relationship. Radio programmes are getting ready their “Best Love Songs” playlist for the onslaught of song requests; Teenagers are doodling little hearts on their tablet computers and even kindergarten kids are making and crayon-ing paper hearts to give to their favourite crush!

For those searching for an affordable alternative to the flowers, chocolate and meal-out options; or perhaps for those who are looking for a meaningful way to take back Valentine’s Day from the onslaught of commercialism while supporting the cause to end violence against women, here are 10 “Valentines Against Violence” as alternatives to the traditional “romantic” gifts:

Valentine Against Violence 1: Bake With Love. If you and your loved one enjoy baking, consider baking a batch of cookies, muffins, brownies, pies, cake and/or other sweet treats for the women and children at your local women’s shelter. Deliver it to the shelter together, in person, and ask to help distribute it to the women and children. Share the experience of bringing a little bit of love and light to mothers and their kids who have not had a reason to smile in a very long time.

Valentine Against Violence 2: Send Some Soft (Toy) Love. Instead of buying the customary teddy bear (or any other soft toy) for your beloved, consider organising a Previously Loved Soft Toy collection at your workplace or clubs that you are part of. On Valentine’s Day (or the weekend before), deliver the toys to the children at your local women’s shelter and watch the smiles come beaming out.

Valentine Against Violence 3: Shop With A Little Bit Of Love. When buying a Valentine’s gift for your beloved, consider buying from retailers and nonprofits offering special Valentine-themed products whereby the proceeds would go towards the cause to end violence against women. Some recommendations: Emerge Global has a jewellery range made by sexual abuse survivors in Sri Lanka. If your beloved prefers perfumes etc, Avon is one of the few companies whose charitable foundation focuses on ending domestic violence.

Valentine Against Violence 4: Share A Meal With Love. If you are planning to head out for a Valentine’s Day meal with your loved one and you know a woman who is suffering from domestic violence or recovering from rape, consider booking a table for four and inviting her (and a friend of hers) along and treating her to a meal. Have it somewhere quiet where everyone can relax. This may be the only respite she can get and it’s an understated way to share some of the love of the season with her.

Valentine Against Violence 5: Teach Some Love. Attention Kindergarten and Elementary school teachers everywhere! Here is one way you can use Valentine’s Day as a teachable moment: Get the kids you teach to donate a chocolate heart (or heart-shaped lollipop each) to special Valentine’s Day “Goodie Bag” which will then be donated to your local Women’s Shelter to be distributed to the women and children there. At the same time, use that Valentine donation drive as a springboard to start teaching the kids about healthy, respectful relationships.

Valentine Against Violence 6: Say It With Flowers. Are you and your loved one avid gardeners with a garden full of flowers? Why not create little posies of mixed blooms tied with purple ribbons for the women at your local women’s shelter or rape crisis centre? Deliver it to the shelter together, in person, and ask to help distribute it to the survivors and advocates there.

Valentine Against Violence 7: Donate in the Name of Love. Make a small donation to a charity/nonprofit organisation working to end violence against women of your beloved’s choice in her name. Send a cheque to your local anti-Violence Against Women nonprofit. Alternatively, go digital by donating to online fundraisers such as our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign. A little as US$5.00 can buy a child in Women’s Aid Organisation’s refuge two nutritious hot meals per day or provide a free NCADV handbook for U.S. domestic violence survivors to help them get back on their feet again.

Valentine Against Violence 8: The Business Of Love. If you own a business that will benefit from a Valentine Day boost, consider donating part of the profit from your Valentine Day bumper sales to your local women’s shelter or partnering with a social service club such as Rotary International to raise funds for your choice of anti-VAW nonprofit in honour of Valentine’s Day.

Valentine Against Violence 9: Write It With Love. If you’re a regular blogger with an interest in women’s issues including violence against women, take up the challenge of writing a thoughtful and positive Valentine’s Day blog post dedicated to your beloved while raising awareness about violence against women as an alternative to cheesy love poems. Post it. Share it. Submit it for a Valentine’s Day blog carnival to present another facet of love.

Valentine Against Violence 10: If Music be the Food of Love, Play on. So says William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. So say NO to Violence Against Women with a positive love song by downloading The Pixel Project’s musical “Valentine Against Violence”, a fabulous a cappella cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ by rising YouTube a cappella star, Peter Hollens! Then download the Standard Edition for just $1.29 from iTunes or the HD Deluxe edition from A Cappella Records which comes with an Anti-Violence Action Pack for just $1.99. Proceeds go toward the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in aid of the USA’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Malaysia’s Women’s Aid Organisation. ‘Firework’ is available for download from from now until February 29th 2012.

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