Maria Canals-Barrera is an actress, wife and mother of two. Maria is helping to support the U.S. Fund for UNICEF by purchasing Inspired Gifts as well as Holiday Cards and Gifts for loved ones this holiday season.
The holiday season is a hugely important occasion for me and my family. It’s our time to be together and an opportunity to think about those who may not be as fortunate as we are. That’s why I try to do what I can to remember those in need, particularly children around the world whose lives depend on our generosity for survival.
I co-founded FEED Projects, a charitable company with the mission of creating eco-friendly products that help FEED the world. FEED products such as our FEED bags have provided funding for UNICEF’s nutrition programs for children. The latest FEED initiative benefiting UNICEF celebrates Disney’s beloved attraction through the “Disney It’s A Small World” collection, inspired by the original artwork of Mary Blair. The FEED Projects items from the collection include a tote, a bib, an infant bodysuit and pants set, and a tee for girls and boys, available at Nordstrom stores in the U.S. and online, as well as the FEED website: feedprojects.com. For each “‘FEED Our Small World” product purchased, FEED will make a donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help UNICEF provide children with an entire year’s worth of Vitamin A supplements.
K.I.N.D (Kids in Need of Desks) has been an astounding success. 24 hours after MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asked his viewers to donate $24 dollars to pick a student in Africa up off the floor, the K.I.N.D Fund had raised more than $280,000 dollars. One week later, we had raised almost $1 million.
Every year UNICEF offers a collection of cards and gifts that support its lifesaving work for children all around the world. Among the many great gift ideas for adults and kids, my favorite is the Open Arms Ornament Holiday Card. The card is embossed in gold foil and shows children from around the world coming together to help create an intricate snowflake design. Not only is the card beautiful, but it feels amazing knowing that you’re helping save lives.
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Sierra Leone is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be pregnant and a child to be born. Part of the reason is that so many deliveries in Sierra Leone are still done by unskilled birth attendants, mainly at home. However, a series of three tetanus vaccine doses administered to a woman is all that is needed to protect her and her newborns from the ravages of this terrible disease.
We visited some of the country’s most remote districts to see how UNICEF and its partners are reaching the hardest to reach. We saw how the vaccinations are transported—often for hours on bicycle or motorbike over unpaved roads—to distant health units, watched vaccinators being trained, and witnessed women being immunized in clinics and schools. We also followed health workers door-to-door as they sought out women who had not yet been vaccinated and encouraged them to do so at their local clinics. Amazingly, this entire supply chain—vaccinations, syringes, safe storage, transportation, health worker training, and more—costs as little as US$1.80 per woman.