Put a smile on someone’s face

2008 USO Holiday Tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Celebrities bring music and entertainment to service members and their families stationed overseas. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley; image in the public domain.

2008 USO celebrity holiday tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley; image in the public domain.

“We must learn to realize that “now” is happening and will very soon be gone…We must look at the ink on the calendar and see an immediate opportunity to do something wonderful, incredible, or beautiful. It’s that simple.” – Dan Pearce

“If you’ve put a smile on someone’s face today, you’ve done more good than you know.”Richelle E. Goodrich

Xhosa children by via Wikimedia commons

Xhosa children by Zakysant, licensed under CCA-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Okay readers, today is the day. Thanks for joining us.
Let the two-year anniversary celebration begin!

Crowd of smiling children in Bangladesh, via Wikimedia Commons

Smiling children in Bangladesh, by bri vos via CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s put some smiles out there in the world.

Australian AusAID volunteers in Cambodia, 2010, via Wikimedia Commons,

Australian AusAID volunteers in Cambodia, 2010, via Wikimedia Commons

There are all sorts of ways to do it…

Girls carrying water in India, via Wikimedia Commons

Girls carrying water in India, via Wikimedia Commons

…but today you have an opportunity that won’t cost you anything but good will.

A young victim of the Haiti earthquake gets medical help from the U. S. Navy. Public domain image

A victim of the Haiti earthquake gets help from the U. S. Navy. Public domain image

 Read more about our celebration here.

Jill Biden and Michelle Obama at a USO celebration, public domain image.

Jill Biden and Michelle Obama at a USO celebration, public domain image.

Choose one of the nonprofit group opportunities listed…

Children collect clean water provided by UKAid. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Children collect clean water provided by UKAid. Image via Wikimedia Commons

 …and leave a comment here, specifying where you’d like us to make a donation in your honor.

Matt with friends at Camp Baker, 2012

Matt with friends at Camp Baker, 2012

We’ll be glad you did…and we hope you will too!

 The NGO Give a Kid a Backpack brings smiles in 2010. Via Wikimedia Commons Public domain photograph from defenseimagery.mil

The NGO Give a Kid a Backpack brings smiles in 2010. Via Wikimedia Commons
Public domain photograph from defenseimagery.mil

LIVE UPDATE, 12 noon 11/10/14 – We still have a long ways to go before reaching the donation limit, so keep those requests coming in! I’ll be back in a few hours to update again.  Help us defeat despair and put smiles on lots of faces!

Disclaimer: all but one of these photos are from Wikimedia Commons, depicting various forms of humanitarian assistance.  They do not represent our celebration today, nor does the use of these photos constitute an endorsement of this effort by any organization pictured.  They are meant only to provide inspiration for global outreach, and also maybe put a smile on your face today.


  1. Wonderful post!
    Best wishes, prospermind. 🙂

    • Thank you!

  2. HarryS

    Didn’t someone say, “As you give so shall you receive”?

    • YES, Harry – and I have seen that proven over and over again, in our own lives as well as the lives of others.

  3. CH

    Thank you for such a generous spirit! I choose The Arc of Williamsburg.
    Please don’t publish my name.
    Love you very much!!!

    • ❤ Thank you, CH! Matt will be happy about your choice. 😀

  4. Eleni

    Cristian Relief Fund: Visit to a doctor.
    Thank you to the anonymous donor and to Julia for making the donations possible through her blog.
    No name release, please. Also, no donation confirmation needed.

    • ❤ Thank you, Eleni! I am so happy to hear from you, and to have you with us today!

  5. Anon E. Moose

    I wish to remain anonymous – no first name, no last name. Cerebral Palsy.

    • ❤ Thank you, Mr. Moose. Your donation will be sent anon. (You can read that two ways!)

  6. Bobby

    You make this very difficult but I choose giving a goat through CRF. But really I wanted to choose all.

    • ❤ Thank you, Bobby! I'm glad you liked the selection. It was hard just to narrow it down to that many choices. There are so many ways to give. I'm so glad you have been on this journey with us, before AND after I started this blog!

  7. Good morning!
    I’m loving all those smiles!
    I choose a water filter from CRF.
    I used to sponsor a girl in Bolivia through Compassion International, and every year I’d get a photo of her, but never smiling. Then I went to visit her. Aside from dozens of great smiling photos of the two of us together, she continued to smile for each annual photo that she sent me. What a blessing! Love sure makes us smile!

    • ❤ Thank you, Susan! Those photos make me smile, too. Jeff and I would love to meet one of our sponsored children. That must have been such a thrill. YES love will put smiles on our faces!

  8. Ann

    Julia, thank you for 730 (!!!) wonderful, thought-provoking blogs. Your blogs have meant so much to me and to others.

    Now for the celebration 🎉🎊🎉. I choose the USO. My husband seved in Viet Nam. He still talks about the USO shows that he saw while there and how they brought a little bit of home and brief sense of cheer to an awful year.

    Thanks to you and the generous donor for allowing us to celebrate in such a meaningful way.


    • ❤ Thank you, Ann! I appreciate your kind words about the blog. I am so glad you have been here with us!

  9. The most encouraging site; it kick starts my day! Charity: Christian Relief Fund – goat for sustainability.

    • ❤ Thank you, Conrad! I am so happy to hear you have enjoyed the blog. I appreciate your being with us today.

  10. cclemon78209

    This blog has been a true blessing to my mornings, thank you for enlarging my world. My choice is a goat provided by the Christian Relief Fund, and you may use my full name. Today my prayer is that I might in some way defeat despair in someone who crosses my path. God bless you. Cheryl Lemon

    • ❤ Thank you Cheryl! That's a prayer we can all share. I appreciate your kind words about the blog. You have all been a blessing to us too!

  11. mojolopez

    Thank you Julia. I have been reading your blog daily for a year and a half, and I always enjoy it. Please have CRF donate a goat for me. I don’t need confirmation and you don’t need to share my name with them. Thanks so much to the anonymous donor who is making this wonderful day possible.

    • ❤ Thank you, mojolopez! I am so happy to learn that you have been with us for such a long time, and have been enjoying the blog. Thanks for leaving a comment today and joining the celebration!

  12. Julia, I would love to celebrate with a donation to Christian Relief Fund. They do such wonderful things all over the world. This is exciting!!! Everyone help us celebrate this loving blog which has helped me defeat despair more than once. Julia you may publish my first name. Have a beautiful day everyone and bring a smile to someone today!!!

    • ❤ Thank you, Cherie! I hope you and Ron are doing well – I keep you both in my prayers. I so appreciate your kind words and encouragement to me on this blog. I am so glad we connected here. I will ask CRF to use your donation wherever it's most needed.

  13. Debbie

    Happy 2 years, I would like to give a visit to a doctor through the CRF.You may use my first name Debbie

    • ❤ Thank you, Debbie! I appreciate your presence with us today, and your participation in the celebration!

  14. Cliff Shiblom, Bartlesville, OK

    Congratulations, Julia, on another milestone. We have been reading your blog since I subscribed on March 6, 2013 after reading your Upper Room devotional. Although I seldom comment, our prayers have been with you often. I have occasionally used your pictures and thoughts in our small Cursillo group and we all appreciated them. I was amazed to receive a personal response to my entry in your one year celebration. Our prayers and thoughts will continue for you and your family.

    I would be pleased if a donation could be made to a Healing Hands clean water project.

    • ❤ Thank you, Cliff! I so appreciate your presence here. Even though you don't comment frequently, I remember you and others who leave a comment from time to time that lets me know you are with us. I am always happy to hear from you and feel honored that you have shared some of my posts with others. Your prayers are needed and treasured.

  15. Rene

    Despite my disclaimer, I had to be here today to say “Happy Birthday!” once again. Thanks for all of the photos, too. We were presented with several opportunities to give (or think about giving) at church yesterday; you would think all the difficulties in the world would be depressing, but I honestly feel inspired: there are things that can be done! Thank you for researching & illustrating so beautifully. Have a beautiful day!

    USO, USO, USO!!!

    • ❤ Thank you, Rene! I too enjoy those Sundays at church when we hear about opportunities to give. Several years ago I would read or hear of "ministry fairs" where people could go visit with representatives from various outreach efforts, and find places they could contribute time or money. I wish we had more such occasions. There is so much we can do, and I think one of the best ways to defeat despair is to take a step, however small, toward helping someone else. Thanks so much for being here with us – and good luck with those conferences today! 😀

  16. Healing Hands International Clean Water Project.

    • ❤ Thank you, mermaidrain! I am so happy we connected here. You have been a continual source of encouragement to me, and I am deeply grateful for your friendship.

  17. Marianne Perry

    I have always wanted to give a goat! Thank you for the opportunity and your inspiring blog. A friend forwarded the link to me today. 🙂

    • ❤ Thank you, Marianne! Please give my sincere thanks to whomever shared the link with you – I am excited to be able to add a goat to the growing flock that will be donated thanks to the readers of this blog. This is great fun for us, and I'm so happy you are here to share it with us.

  18. Love it! You (and your friend) are so creative and fun. Our hearts here flow in the area of clean water. So my pick is a water filter from CRF. I don’t need a letter. Love you!

    • ❤ Thank you, Barb – for this, and so much more. ❤

  19. Mary Ellen

    Happy Second Birthday of your blog, Julia. Thank you for creating it every day, and thank you and your generous donor for the celebration. Great idea! I choose Healing Hands International clean water project. Love and God Bless you and your family and your bloggers!

    • ❤ Thank you, Mary Ellen! I so appreciate your presence here, and your encouragement about the blog.

  20. Linda Blackford

    USO, since tomorrow is Veteran’s Day!

    • ❤ Thank you, Linda! Believe it or not, it only recently occurred to me that I started this blog the day before Veteran's Day, and therefore the anniversaries fall the day before. I'm glad I remembered to include a military-focused nonprofit among the groups listed.

  21. Julia, congratulations on your second anniversary! 🙂

    • ❤ Thank you, Merry!

  22. And Julia, I posted too soon…before telling you how much I enjoyed coming to Defeat Despair. Thanks for sharing your life with me. 🙂
    And my choice of charity is CRF. Blessings…

    • Merry, I want to thank YOU for giving back to us here, with your comments, prayers and encouragement!

  23. Joyce

    What a wonderful way to live – I would like the gift giving sustainable food

    Congratulations on 2 years, and prayers for the next 20!

    • ❤ Thank you, Joyce! Your presence here, contribution and prayers mean so much.

  24. Kathy Y

    Julia, congratulations on your blog’s 2 year anniversary; job WELL DONE! You have blessed so many through your insights and creative images, including myself many days. Thank you. I choose water filtration through CRF and you may use Kathy Y. This is a lovely “party”. 🙂

    • ❤ Thank you, Kathy! I am so happy to have you share this special day with us. Your encouragement has been helping me for so many years now. Glad you could make it to the party!

  25. MaryAnn

    Julia! What a delightful array of smiling faces from the lady who encourages us to add joy to others! How appropriate! Your giving heart is such an inspiration. Please pick one of the organizations, in your area, that helps Matt. I agree w/ some of your readers: it was very hard to pick because you gave great choices! Ah! It will give us ideas of where to help at other times. God is Love! Thank you for writing this blog, showing God’s Love & for the celebration. You may use my name. Sharing a smile is a very easy way to brighten someone’s day & it also shines back to lift oneself!

    • ❤ Thank you, Mary Ann! It will bring a big grin to Matt's face when I tell him about your donation in his honor. Your loving, generous and HAPPY spirit has been such a blessing to our family!

      • MaryAnn

        That makes me so happy, causing a huge smile for me! Speaking of smiles: I just saw a multitude of smiling faces at the Dallas hospital where President Bush visited with the caregivers. Photos were posted on FireWire from TheBlaze.com.He adds his special brand of joy to them as they are “recovering” from the mishap.

        • Mary Ann, from what I have heard, George W. Bush shows up at hospitals quite a lot, unannounced (probably for security reasons) and without much publicity, so I’m glad someone “caught him” visiting our soldiers. It’s sad that while our Presidents are in office, the security details are so burdensome that they are not able to make such visits as often. President Obama came to Walter Reed to see the wounded warriors while Jeff was staying there, and the amount of work that had to be done before and after was unbelievable. Dogs even had to come sniff out our rooms. Then we were “locked in” and could not even stick our heads out into the hallway without a security officer telling us to get back in the room. The floor nurses said it’s such a security headache that they often end up wishing he wouldn’t come. I’m sure there are many things our Presidents don’t miss about the office when they retire. Anyway, I’m glad that Bush remembers our military people. His dedication to them is well known by those of us “on the inside.”

          • MaryAnn

  26. LB

    Healing Hands … many blessings to you for blessing others, Julia!
    YOU are awesome!!!

    • ❤ Thank you, LB! I will tell Healing Hands to use your donation wherever it's most needed. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement!

  27. Kathy

    Your blog is always awesome and I believe God is using your word-gifts. Thanks, Julia, for the these posts which seem directed specifically to me!
    CONGRATS on this anniversary 🙂
    p.s. I chose CRF goat-giving, even before I read the comments. I hope it’s still in the running because it’s been listed many times. However, I would be honored to give to any of these smile-makers. Thanks.

    • Hi Kathy, YES, you can still give a goat! There is no limit to any of the gifts, only to the overall cumulative money total. But we aren’t anywhere close to it yet, so your timing is perfect! Thanks so much for being with us and taking part in the celebration. ❤

  28. Amy

    WOW, two years!!!! “Whoda thunk it?” Where has the time gone. Arc of Williamsburg for me please. You have done an amazing job with this blog. I have loved every post. God bless you and your donor. Thank you.

    • Amy, thank you so much! I am thinking of letting you be the person who draws out the winner’s names this year. Do you mind if I videotape you doing that tomorrow? Maybe W can co-star! I know you will have an easier time with NOT trying to peek at the names, than Matt had last year! (The video of that is still posted; it makes me laugh again just to see it.)

      • Amy

        Sure we can do that tomorrow. I am honored. What fun but I cant guarantee the no peeking. 🙂

        • Well you won’t be any worse than Matt was! Although it made for a fun video. This time I’ll try to make sure my battery is charged.

  29. Megan

    Congratulations!! What a wonderful thing to celebrate! Will drink some tea in your honor today. 🙂 Grady and I choose Arc of Greater Williamsburg and send our love!

    • Thank you, Megan and Grady! By all means, do have a cuppa (I’m drinking tea right now, as I write this — black chai). Please thank Grady for brightening so many posts on this blog with his gorgeous face.

      • MaryAnn

        Grady does a great job of adding cheerfulness to us! Thank you to his parents & grandparents for being great examples of loving others!

        • Mary Ann, as Matt would say…”Aaawwww….” 😀

  30. Dorothy

    Congratulations Julia on your 2 year Anniversary! I so look forward each morning to reading your uplifting and inspiring words. Am I too late to donate to the Arc of Greater Williamsburg? I don’t need my name to be published. We’re holding our 3rd Fair Trade Fair at our Church this weekend, the first to be held in the Blue mountains. This helps so many people from different countries. Also we’ve driven down the South Coast of NSW many times (picture from Otford, a few days ago) and it is very beautiful. May God grant you many blessings. love, Dorothy.

    • Hi Dorthy, you are not too late at all. Anybody can post a request up to Midnight EST (USA) which means that people on your side of the date line have until Tuesday morning. 😀 I am so happy you are reading and enjoying the blog. Kudos to your church for hosting the fair. I wish I could attend! (Any excuse to visit NSW is fine with me!) 😀 Thanks so much for being here with us, crossing the miles via cyber-spaceship. ❤

  31. Julia, these are all wonderful organizations. You’ve collected a great list. I would suggest a donation to USO since it’s your favorite and since we’re celebrating your second blogging anniversary. I’m happy to hear they’ve made a difference in your life.

    Thank you for your good and generous heart. xox

    • ❤ Thank you, Alys! Your generous heart is a great example to me. So much of what USO does is "below the radar" — people hear about the big events, but it's the day-to-day support on many levels that really sets them apart.

      • Well said. It’s so often what people need the most, too.

        • Yes, I often tell people that, at least for us, the big crises are not the hardest part of life; it’s the daily, relentless grind that so often undoes us. Slowly, cumulatively, insidiously, the damage is done during the weeks and months and years when there is little to no support or relief, and a feeling of hopeless resignation sets in. That’s where a faith-based or community group can make a real difference, but sadly, not all do. I’ve learned to treasure the ones that really “get it” about being there in practical ways.

          • I think you could write a book with all your charm and wisdom. You could simply gather the material from your posts and comments over the years. I know others would appreciate your words and insights. xox

            • Thank you Alys, you make me feel so happy when you say such nice things. I have always felt like people sort of roll their eyes when I talk and say to themselves, “there she goes again.” Maybe I’m better at expressing myself in writing…or maybe you are just a kind, generous, wonderfully supportive friend! ❤

              • I think you express yourself beautifully in writing. Your wise and clever and you have thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas. Let them roll their eyes…their loss I say.

                I think you’re grand.

                • Awwww, thanks Alys. It makes me feel happy to read that. I appreciate your generosity and support!

  32. Lynn

    I choose Arc of Greater Williamsburg in honor of Matt. Thanks for much for your wonderful blog!

    • ❤ Thank you, Lynn! I know Matt will appreciate it!

  33. Sheila

    Julia, think of all the spirits you’ve lifted, smiles you’ve made happen, and the family of good people you’ve brought together here. I’m so glad you’ve been on the well deserved, receiving end of so much love and so many prayers for you, Jeff, and Matt. 🙏 I would like to choose Healing Hands International Clean Water Project. You may use my name and a special “thank you” for the anonymous donor that is participating without recognition. Hmmmm…..😍 Best wishes and love cross the miles, Sheila

    • ❤ Thank you, Sheila! You deserve a prize for your ongoing, continual encouragement here. We are so grateful for your friendship, love and prayers!

      • Sheila

        You’re so kind, but the prize has been received every time I happen to hear the “ping” at 5:01 AM. I shared with Bill during lunch about today’s celebration and the milestone. Bill said, ” Good for Julia! I think she deserves a sabbatical!” I hope you’ll ponder his heartfelt words. Does he remind you of someone?? 😍

        • Hee-hee, I think he does remind me of someone I know well. I definitely will ponder his words! I’m very practiced at pondering. I wish it paid well. 😀

          • Sheila

            Oh, my! I thought my check was lost in the mail! 😂

            • Unfortunately, I had to ponder that one awhile before I figured it out myself. I guess there’s a reason why there are no philosophers on the Forbes list. At least not anyone who claims that as their day job! Even C. S. Lewis had to switch to an English diploma from Oxford in order to get a job, according to the book I am reading. So we’re in good company. 😀 😀 😀

  34. Marlowe

    Healing Hands International – Clean Water

    Anonymous, no name, no confirmation required

    Your posts have been a blessing to me.

    • Thank you, Marlowe! It is wonderful to hear from you and learn that you have been enjoying the blog. Please give our love to the family. ❤

  35. I’ve been out of town all day, am I to late??!! i hope not, it’s not midnight on the east coast yet..

    I’m so proud of you and of your blog. You have encouraged me in so many ways with your lovely and honest words. THANK YOU, JULIA! And I wish you all the best in your next season 🙂

    For the celebration (if I still can) USO all the way! Please say THANK YOU to the donor for rocking the house.

    • Jenelle, you are not too late! ❤ Your donation will go to the USO! I am so happy we connected online, and I want to thank you for your continuing encouragement and for UNDERSTANDING all the juggling that has to go on for Moms who love to write. I'm so glad you are here with us! And I fully expect you to be one of the five names that get drawn by Amy today — why break the record? 😀 Hee-hee.

  36. Well Bless your hearts. What a beautiful celebration. Thank you so much for the invitation too. Congratulations on your anniversary here at WordPress Julia. A daily post for two years straight, that’s an amazing accomplishment.

    Everyone listed is so worthy of our attention. I hope I’m not too late to participate. Since we will spend tomorrow Remembering those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice, I’d like to choose the USO and I would like to remain anonymous please. Hugs K

    • Hi K, no such thing as too late for you. ❤ I have my clocks permanently set on Boomdee time! Thanks for being here, and for starting all this one year ago when you said "give my $50 prize to charity." 😀 What a great and fun thing that turned out to be for both of us. I bet you never dreamed that your generosity would be multiplied 20 times a year later. It's like I told you before, it just keeps flowing on… I appreciate SO much the encouragement you have been to me, and for giving me a Happy Place to visit in the blogosphere!

      • You’re so dear, thank you J. I laughed at your clock setting. ‘Boomdee time’ is very un-syncronized with things as of lately, I’m not sure it’ll ever keep any other time but, LOL Seems to usually get me where I need to be even though a tad unpredictable. Then again, I like that life is full of happy surprises. Like meeting kindred spirits in this community. xoxo K

        • Yes, I like the happy surprises that come when we move our clocks to Boomdee time. It’s always fun to make time for friends!

  37. Jack

    Mosquito nets. No acknowledgement, no names. May He richly bless…and He does!

    • Thank you, Jack! I so appreciate your participation and encouragement here.

  38. I’m a bit ahead of your worty campaign, Julia. I’ve recently adopted a refugee family with monthly contributions to provide what is needed for their family function.

    • Alan, what a wonderful thing to do. I am sure they appreciate it deeply. Does the family live here in the USA, or elsewhere? Either way it’s a great thing to help them get adjusted to new circumstances. Drew had a college friend who was one of the “lost boys” of the Sudan, and what some of these children go through is beyond our imagination. Despite the many problems that go with regulating immigration, it is touching that people in other places see the USA as a place to take refuge. It reminds me of how much we have to be thankful for here.

      • I have yet to find out their identity. The program originates from The Chaldean Federartion Of America.

        • Alan, perhaps you will learn more about them in time, but if not here, then in the world to come! Thanks again for helping defeat despair. I am reminded of the quote that opens this tear-jerking scene from Schindler’s List: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” ❤

          • I remember the film and that quote very well. Thanks for the reminder.

            • You’re welcome. I love watching these pivotal scenes on YouTube. It sort of brings back the best of any movie.

  39. Raynard

    Julia, got sidetracked with this lawyer thing and my wife’s aunt getting out of rehab soon and relocating to Delaware with us . Also there are loose ends to tie up concerning her house her late husband’s funeral, bills and more bills. Love what you are doing and encouraged by it. be blessed

    • Raynard, I know you must be dealing with tons of paperwork right now. Jeff’s sister has been busy with similar things since losing her husband. I think it is so kind of you and your wife to have her aunt come to stay with you. I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible. I really appreciate your visits here, and when you are not here I know it’s because you have a lot of stuff going on to keep you away. I hope you have a nice and restful weekend, and if it cannot be restful, at least I hope it’s happy and productive for you.

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