Office Depot Foundation National Backpack Program Donates 200,000 Sackpacks

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For many of us, shopping for "back to school" is fun. For others, it is a struggle to provide even the basic supplies. The Office Depot Foundation National Backpack program is back for its 16th year, giving children around the world the tools they need to succeed in school. This year, they are donating 200,000 colorful new sackpacks to nonprofit organizations, schools, and agencies across the United States and internationally. By the end of 2016, Office Depot and the Office Depot Foundation will have given away more than 4 million backpacks and sackpacks since the National Backpack Program began in 2001.
“We believe that every child should have the opportunity to go to school with dignity and hope,” says Office Depot Foundation President Mary Wong. “For most children, the first day of school is an exciting time complete with new clothes and back-to-school gear. But for kids in families where money is tight, the experience can be just the opposite. The sackpacks and school supplies we donate help to level the playing field and give these wonderful children a reason to stand just a little bit taller.”
The specially designed, drawstring-style sackpacks come in seven bright and colorful designs – several of which are new for 2016. Each one includes a zippered pouch containing a pen, pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser, six-inch ruler and four crayons. The sackpacks do not have any Office Depot Foundation or Office Depot logos or markings. I think any child would be delighted to receive one!
More information about the National Backpack Program can be found on the Office Depot Foundation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/officedepotfoundation. To learn more about the Office Depot Foundation and its initiatives, go to www.officedepotfoundation.org/. You can follow the Foundation on Twitter @OfficeDepotFndn; the National Backpack Program’s hashtag is #ODFcares. The Foundation is also on Instagram: @officedepotfoundation.


Giveaway! $25 Amazon Gift Card #backtoschool

Welcome to another fabulous giveaway hop
where you can win prizes on all the blogs listed below!

From August 17 - September 7
ride the back to school wave with this
groovy giveaway hop
sponsored by The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It!

I'm giving away a
$25 Amazon Gift Card!
Open worldwide, prize delivered electronically.
Open to ages 18+.
Ends 9/7/2016.
Good luck!


What To Do In Hawaii - Polynesian Cultural Center #travel #hawaii

Disclosure: I received entry at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is, by far, one of the most wonderful places I've visited in Hawaii! We boarded a Polynesian Cultural Center tour bus in Waikiki, meeting our driver and a hilarious tour guide who called us all cousins. After a comfortable one-hour bus ride (with reclining seats and air conditioning) along the gorgeous windward side of Oahu, we arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center around noon.
Hawaii has the best weather on the planet, and this day was perfect, the temperature around 84 degrees, with plenty of sunshine, cool breezes, and a few dotty clouds passing overhead. Above the lush greenery and tropical flowers, the tall trees gently waves their palms against a bright blue sky.
We checked in and met our two tour guides for the day. They called us cousins and ohana (family). Then we found out they were real cousins! They gave us each a Kukui Nut Lei, made of nuts from the kukui tree, the state tree of Hawaii. In ancient times, this type of lei was worn only by royalty.
Our tour guides led our hungry group of about 20 visitors past some beautiful waterfalls to the Hale Aloha, one of many wonderful places to eat at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
This was our beautiful view as we indulged in scrumptious foods from across the islands of Polynesia.
I don't think I've ever had chicken quite as delicious as the one I enjoyed there! By the way, the fresh pineapple in Hawaii is much sweeter than anywhere else.
But the highlight of any meal is, of course, the delectable desserts!
After a hearty meal, we sat back to relax in a large canoe. As our "driver" poled our canoe through the lagoon, our tour guides pointed out the different villages of the Polynesian islands that we would be visiting throughout the day.
The villages along the lagoon are designed to portray each of the islands accurately, preserving the distinct cultural heritage of Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Aotearoa, and Tonga. Each of the six has very unique qualities to their homes, foods, dances, and dress. Here are some of my favorite photos from the canoe ride.

Walking through each of the villages is even more fun. We saw their boats, homes, tools, musical instruments, ornamental items, dishes, and so much more. Along the way, there are activities for all ages. Having tour guides tell us about everything along the way made the visit so much more meaningful.

We learned how to make poi, the Polynesian staple food made from the underground plant stem of the taro plant. We tasted the purple, starchy poi, which had about the same consistency of mashed sweet potato pudding. It tasted pretty good, a bit bland with a hint of sweetness.
Then we settled along the river for the Canoe Pageant, where we watched a parade of canoes, displaying the music, dance, and dress of the Polynesian islands. Their colorful costumes and animated dances were delightful. It was one of my favorite parts of the day!

During the parade, we heard a loud splash and discovered one of the dancers had ended up in the lagoon!

After the Canoe Pageant, we went to one of the shows, where a few people from the audience were able to get on stage and participate in the dancing and drum playing. It was roaring good fun and the music was lively!
I'm not so sure my husband would have learned how to hula dance if he'd known I was standing right behind him, catching all his island moves on video:

Afterwards, we learned some tricky dance moves with these soft bags that hung from long strings. I found it rather easy at first, twirling them both the same direction, but then we switched to twirling them different directions.
It was much like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, and I ended up a pile of giggles after hitting myself in the head a couple of times. I finally got the hang of it, sort of.
We later settled into the shade to watch a fire-lighting race, which really lasted only a few seconds. I could hardly believe how fast these guys can light a fire. We were also told that Samoan men do all the cooking. That sounded fabulous to me!
Then they showed us how they climb, super fast up the coconut tree, to grab coconuts. Check out my video below! Every part of the coconut is used in island culture, including the husk, the coconut water, the coconut meat, the coconut milk squeezed out of the meat, and even the shell. Amazing!

In another area, we learned how to weave palm leaves and we each made a little fish. It isn't as easy as it looks! We sat cross-legged on woven mats that lined the floor of a large open-walled house, learning step by step how to weave them. In everything we did throughout the day, we were made to feel like family.
A grand buffet of many foods awaited us for dinner. We were greeted with warm aloha and beautiful flower leis. As we found our seats for dinner, they lifted up, from an underground oven, one of the largest pigs I've ever seen. It had been roasting all day long and the smell was intoxicating.
As we were laughingly encouraged to eat no less than seven plates of food, we were treated to a fabulous show of song and dance from across Polynesia. The keiki (children in Hawaiian) were absolutely adorable!

My most favorite part of the dinner show was this incredibly talented 9 year old who juggled firey batons:

We had a little bit of free time after dinner before the night show began, so we walked around the Hukilau Marketplace, looking in the many shops at all the wonderful island treats and treasures for sale.
As the sky darkened, we lined up to see Ha: Breath of Life. There are no photos or videos allowed in the show, so I had great expectations that it would be spectacular. I was not disappointed! The hour and a half night show is truly amazing. During intermission, we reveled in a Delight Dessert, which is a soft, sherbert-like dessert with tropical fruits. We had fabulous seats for the show, right near the front and center. I was entertained, surprised, delighted, and even nearly cried. I will remember it forever!
The Polynesian Cultural Center is an absolutely MUST-DO on the Hawaiian island of Oahu! It is a wonderful place for couples, families, students, seniors, or anyone who wants an authentic, memorable experience of the beautiful islands of Polynesia. There is so much to see and do that it could easily take two or three days to experience it all.
Visit www.polynesia.com to find out more and to buy tickets. I strongly encourage you to get one of the Ambassador packages because it comes with lots of great perks! Set up round trip transportation from a Waikiki hotel so you can enjoy the scenery on the way there, and relax in comfort (and nap a bit) on the way back. Our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center was one of our most favorite days in Hawaii!
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Weekly Giveaway Linky - Wednesday Wealth (August 10-16)

Acer Aspire R 15 Convertible Notebook - Review #tech

Disclosure: I received product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
The Acer Aspire R 15 Convertible Notebook is a winner! If you are looking for the perfect computer to send to school with your college student, this is the one. When I took it out of the box, I was incredibly impressed with the sleek metal cover with a hairline-brushed finish. It comes with all necessary power cords and manuals, and took only minutes to set up to use.
The Acer Aspire R 15 has all the power and features needed for research projects and school assignments. The 15.6” full HD display (1920 x 1080 resolution) with IPS technology provides a crisp, clear picture and the narrow border design delivers maximum viewing area. The large screen makes it easy on the eyes. I love the light-up keyboard too!
The Acer Aspire R 15 can be used as a laptop, a tent, a display (with keyboard face-down), and a tablet. It has a 360-degree dual-axial hinge the provides the flexibility and strength needed to convert easily between the modes. The screen view and the bold audio (Acer TrueHarmony and Dolby Audio) respond instantly when the screen is turned to a different orientation.
The Acer Aspire R 15 is also the perfect entertainment hub for relaxing after studies. Its long battery life and durable design make it ideal for carrying to classes and then back to the dorm. It has a powerful 6th gen Intel Core i5 processor to deliver premium performance and great battery life of up to nine hours. The thermal design ensures it stays cool to the touch and runs smoothly. It also features 8GB DDR4 memory and a 1TB hard drive.
The Acer Aspire R 15 has a USB Type-C port (3.1 Gen 1) that provides fast data transfer up to 5Gbps. It is about 67% smaller than standard USB ports and the reversible design means there’s no need to worry any more about plugging cables in upside down. There are also lots of other ports available for connecting external devices including USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and HDMI.
The Acer Aspire R 15 has a responsive touchscreen and built-in mousepad. In addition, the patented ExoAmp antenna enhances wireless reception without spoiling the device’s exterior. There is even an anti-fingerprint coating that keeps oils from fingers from sticking to the display. I really love the Acer Aspire R 15 and, after hearing my husband audibly gasp at it, I knew this new computer was now his, not mine. I'm thinking we may need a second one!
Learn more about the Acer Aspire R 15 Convertible Notebook at


Summer Seasonal Beer Bucket from GourmetGiftBaskets

Disclosure: I received product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
If you love beer, you're going to love the Summer Seasonal Beer Bucket! It's filled with the best microbrews of the season, plus great premium snacks. GourmetGiftBaskets.com never disappoints with their wonderful and enormous selection of gifts for men, women, and kids of all ages. Search by holidays and occasions, choose from a huge selection care packages and gift baskets, and don't miss their delicious bakery gifts!
The Summer Seasonal Beer Bucket features six amazing microbrews for the discerning craft beer drinker - Fresh Slice White IPA by Otter Creek Brewing, Summer Session Ale by Peak Organic Brewery, Lemongrass Luau by Kona Brewing Company, Summertime K├Âlsch by Goose Island Beer Co., Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy by The Traveler Beer Co., and Summerhook by Redhook Brewery. Fill the bucket with ice and pop in the beers for an impromptu get-together!
GourmetGiftBaskets also includes hand-selected munchies to enjoy with these microbrews, including two different treats KingOfPOP.com - Honey Mustard Popcorn and Hickory Maple Bacon Kettle Corn. In addition, you'll get delicious Peppered Beef Jerky by Divine Bovine, Chichester Snack Mix by Merrimack Valley Snack Company, and Roasted and Salted Peanuts by JandR Gourmet. It's truly a party in a bucket!
Visit GourmetGiftBaskets.com to order the Summer Seasonal Beer Bucket. Order one for yourself and send a few to your best buds! Hurry, because summer will be over soon!