In the miles and points world it can be easy to become jaded with just how good we have it. Even though program devaluations are rampant and it is becoming harder (though far from impossible) to maximize miles and points, we still need to take a minute and be thankful that we are even able to travel. It can be easy to complain about poor service at hotels or grumpy flight attendants, but these issues truly pale in comparison to so many people around the world who are struggling to provide the most basic needs for their families.
On a personal note, this year has been great for the site – we’ve seen traffic increase dramatically and thanks to the support from our readers, advertising has grown steadily. Beyond the growth, it is incredibly gratifying to hear from so many TPG readers about how they’ve been able to achieve travel dreams they never thought would be possible. To put it bluntly, I’m extremely grateful to be able to do what I love – traveling the world at affordable prices and helping others do the same. However, so many people are not as fortunate as me and this holiday season I wanted to give back as much as possible and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Back in October, I wrote about an amazing deal where you could earn 35 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at eBags.com. I originally thought I’d buy some odds and ends and pad my AA account, but then I thought about how I could maximize this promotion for a good cause. The plan was to mint a million miles in just 20 minutes by buying merchandise and then donate the miles to a charity, so it was kind of like maximizing my miles, but in reverse – by giving them away.
I donated approximately 100 designer Kate Spade and Michael Kors handbags purchased from eBags to Housing Works, an organization in New York City which gives housing, medical, and legal support to those who are homeless and living with HIV & AIDS. I decided on designer handbags because their resale value is strong and would hopefully get the organization as close to the $29,000 original purchase price as possible. Housing Works operates 12 highly successful thrift shops across NYC and they recently held a Fashion For Action benefit that featured a lot of the handbags for sale. The bags are still being sold, but I’m confident they’ll be able to recoup a large portion of the original donation.
Double Charity Dip
The one million AAdvantage miles that I earned from the purchase were given to Kids In Need, a program run by American Airlines that helps numerous charities helping to improve the lives of children around the world. I decided on this charity because it is administered by American Airlines directly and the miles are actually donated into a pool for numerous charities to use. I used to think that when miles were donated they’d be liquidated for a fraction of the real value and a minor donation made to the charity. This is not true for Kids In Need and these 1,000,000 miles will provide up to 40 roundtrip domestic flights for kids and their families- which could easily be worth more than $16,000.
One of the causes that will benefit from the mileage donation is the Snowball Express – a charity that helps the children and families of our fallen military heroes. This year, Snowball Express will be taking place in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas from December 12-16 and American Airlines has given me the opportunity to attend the event, so expect a future post on my experience.
Being able to attend and show my support for our fallen heroes and their loved ones is something that is very important to me and I’m really looking forward to it though I know it will be a tough and emotional experience for everyone involved. Watch the video below to see what Snowball Express is all about:
With the holiday season upon us, I often think about how lucky I am and how grateful I am for my family, friends, health and success. Nothing brings me more joy than being able to give back and help those who are less fortunate than I am, but this post is not about what I’ve done, but more about informing you all about some incredible charities that can use your miles, time or money.
How You Can Help Those In Need
If you too would like to contribute to Kids In Need, Operation Hero Miles or Snowball Express please visit the links below where you can make a donation, sponsor a child, or find out about volunteer opportunities.
Donate Your Miles: Miles can be donated to Operation Hero Miles to help bring home America’s heroes or Miles for Kids in Need. A minimum donation of 1,000 miles is required. Members who have an available balance of less than 1,000 miles may donate their entire balance.
Make a Contribution: Donations can be submitted online by credit card or by mailing in a check to Snowball Express c/o Amegy Bank Dept D8256 P.O Box 650002 Dallas, Texas 75265-0002.
Sponsor a Child Program: $250 will help bring one child to attend this event that honors and celebrates their hero. This amount helps cover everything for four days including food, lodging, entertainment, transportation, and more.
Volunteer with Housing Works.
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