The True Meaning of Christmas

Christmastime is my favorite time of the year!  The romantic snow, the homemade Christmas cookies, the family get-togethers, the holiday food, the plaid!  Everyone is cheerful and gives thoughtful gifts to show friendship or appreciation and people gather to celebrate with hugs and gifts.

I do tend to get caught up in the shopping and gifting, wanting to show my love or communicate how much I care for someone through gifts.  I guess you could say my love language is giving gifts!  I find that I’ve bought too much when I start wrapping, most of the presents under the tree are from me!

Last year I decided to experience Christmas in a different way. I committed to a 25 Days of Kindness- starting December 1st, I volunteered or gave back to one charity each day through Christmas day.  I played games with children at the Crisis Nursery, rang the bell for Salvation Army, packed blessing bags for homeless teens, and donated toys to the Children’s Hospital to name a few.  On Christmas Eve, my family and I made fleece blankets and drove downtown to hand them out to the homeless in zero degree weather.  This experience gave me a gift of appreciation- to be grateful for what I have and to give a small piece of happiness or importance to someone else.

This year I thought, “why not have a 5 Days of Kindness at Evine where employees can work together as a team and give back to others while having fun in the process?!”

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Day 1 we all wrote cards to those serving overseas for our military with “Holidays for Heroes”- over 100 cards were sent!

 

 

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Day 2 we made sandwiches for the homeless for The Sandwich Project, created by a former teacher and he literally feeds the homeless every night! Captain Sig Hansen even made a few!

 

 

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Day 3: Everyone donated over 100 toys for Toys For Tots for needy children in our area. The 3 Amigos had fun being a part by donating presents on air.

 

 

 

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Day 4: Employees of Evine chose a senior or a child to buy a gift for with “Be an Angel” project and all 80 names were pulled right away!  We will have to find more names to choose next year!

 

 

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Day 5: Over 50 fleece blankets were made and donated through “Project Linus” which distributes the blankets to children in local hospitals.

 

 

Color all of this giving with a sense of loss of a friend and former host, Connie Kunkle at 58 years old, and it makes me reflect upon the true meaning of life–what we spend our time doing.  We hear it said over and over again—life is about relationships and making an impact in others’ lives.  I hope we have done that this year through the ‘5 Days of Kindness,’ that we have inspired you to give your time to someone in need and in turn, to feel a sense of purpose and community.

I wish you all gratitude for what you have in your lives, and to show your appreciation by making a difference in another’s life who may need it most, that is what the holiday season is all about.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!

With Gratitude,

Wendi Russo

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The Ripple Effect

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The book prototype I had created and almost completed writing when I got the hosting job with Evine – then Shop NBC 12 years ago

Have you ever hit hard times and needed help?  I have- I’ve always believed that when you are blessed, you should be a blessing to others. Over a decade ago, I struggled to find my niche-even after getting my Broadcast Journalism degree, I felt the News wasn’t for me—I would want to give the woman who lost her son at the murder scene a hug, not just report the news!  I needed some direction — my life coach asked,  “What is your passion?” I responded sarcastically, “I’m really good at shopping!”

Not the easiest thing in the world, to find a career that marries shopping, acting and improv background and the one that utilized the “talkative” comment most teachers would write on my report card growing up!  “Have Faith, ” she said.  I struggled for quite a while, trying many different sales jobs, but no real passion for any of them- I was feeling defeated.

On my wedding day 13 years ago, I walked up the stairs to Beverly Hills Town hall. My phone rang- it was my agent asking if I would like to host a Home Shopping Network (back then Shop NBC)—I said YES!

I sent in my demo reel-a prototype of me hosting a show I created “Inside LA”, showcasing the best places to dine, club and shop in Los Angeles. Soon after, I booked the job! My new husband and I moved to Eden Prairie, MN where Evine is broadcast and I’ve been a part of the Evine family for the past 12 years.

Remembering how lost I felt and fearful, I now help women identify their skills, to believe in themselves to find a job and a better future for their family with Dress for Success.  As a Career Advocate I speak to the women engaged in the 8- week program about what it takes to “sell” themselves to an employer through their words and body language/energy to get the job.  As a One-on-One Mentor, I’ve been able to impact many women’s lives by giving advice and encouraging them to reach their dreams through daily action.

wendi2I was so proud of our Evine hosts for agreeing to be a part of the Dress for Success annual 5k fundraising walk to support this job program!
I was even prouder that our President, Bob Rosenblatt, was kind enough to donate $1500 on behalf of Evine for our Dress for Success team!  Hosts Kendy Kloepfer, Heather Hall, Kimberly Wells, Allison Waggoner and Melissa Miner all donated to the cause, helping us to raise over $2100!

wendiEarly the morning of the race, Evine Hosts Skip Connelly, Lynne Schacher, Brian Kessler, Kristine Kvanli, Sam Simmons and Fatima Cocci and I all rallied together at 6am, walking to raise money to support the women in the “Going Places Network”.

We had a ball!  Sam chose to run it with Kristine, while Skip walked alongside Fatima and I was busy Snap Chatting on the Evine account—hopping from host to host, jumping into each conversation.  At the end of the walk, we ran and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand!  The ladies from Dress for Success were at the finish line and cheered us on with their kids.

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We all bonded in a very unique way that day, and vowed to do it again next year!  I call this the Ripple Effect because if each of us helped someone and then they helped someone once they were on their feet, we would magnify the impact!

What are you doing this holiday season to give back?  Leave your comments below!  If you want to donate clothing for this program, find your local chapter at www.dressforsuccess.org.

“Be Good to Others” and stay tuned for my “5 Days of Kindness” Initiative December 5-9th on my Facebook Page and Evine’s social media platforms! Fine me at:  Wendi Russo Evine Live.

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