Candle Heart

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: Rise With Love. Instead of spending money on lavish gifts and dinners, consider attending your nearest One Billion Rising event with your loved one to sing and dance together to say NO to violence against women!

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. Alternatively, give your loved one an empowering musical boost by downloading The Pixel Project’s ’16 For 16′ charity digital EP. 100% of proceeds go toward keeping The Pixel Project’s campaigns and projects running. The EP is available for download from iTunes, Amazon and all major online music stores from from now until February 28th 2013.

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.

Daisy HeartValentine 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 by anti-VAW nonprofits.

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. If you are an artiste/musician, consider getting on board our Valentine 2013 YouTube Cover Carnival in tribute to Jyoti Singh Pandey, the Delhi Gang Rape victim. You will not only be using your musical talents to say NO to violence against women in an immensely positive way, but you will also stand a chance to get your music in front of some of the biggest names on YouTube today including AHMIR, Ali Brustofski, J Rice and Lisa Lavie and to win some great prizes including a production session with acclaimed So So Def producer Mike Kalombo, a collaboration with J Rice and much more!

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