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Well, it’s a new year, but there’s no reason to stop volunteering. I went to the Maui Food Bank, joined by my co-worker Ashley and her husband, Jeff (who coincidentally were on Maui for their honeymoon).

We sorted and shelved food for a few hours. If you’re planning to visit Maui and want to give back, you can sign up on their website – http://www.mauifoodbank.org/

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Maui is a wonderful place. Not just for its abundant natural beauty of blue water, greenery, and mountains. The Aloha culture, the people, the history, and the traditions make Maui unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.

We spent the last hours of 2014 doing direct action in Kihei. Robyn and I passed out cards to folks we didn’t know to wish them a wonderful 2015 and included gift certificates for local businesses in the envelopes. We passed out some cards on December 31st and will continue to do so into the new year. I’m going to address plans for 2015 in a later post.

Earlier in December I was lucky enough to join up with the South Maui Volunteers at venerable Kam II Beach in Kihei where I did some light gardening. If you’re in Maui on vacation and you want to give back in appreciation for the splendor you have enjoyed, you can volunteer with them even if it’s only one time. No reason not to!

From their website:

Hoaloha ‘Aina (aka South Maui Volunteers), under the guidance of Parks, State DLNR, and UH SEA Grant personnel, has been able to help in several instances of natural and man-made events and disasters which have affected the south Maui coastal dunes. Storms have ravaged dunes and beach areas, water leaks have washed out trails, sea birds have been killed by dogs, vandalism has damaged dune areas, and on several occasions there have been huge mounds of dumped rubbish. Our volunteer group has been able to step in and repair most of the areas with the help of grants from Hawaii Tourism Authority, donations from supporters, and hours of service from a host of wonderful volunteers.

We woke up early and made the six hour drive to volunteer at the San Diego Food Bank. We are immeasurably grateful to Xavier Hernandez, Volunteer Coordinator at the San Diego Food Bank for making room for two more volunteers even though he had a full volunteer team in place (yay San Diego community!). The food bank is a huge operation with a huge mission. We helped box food that will ultimately be distributed to nearly 800 elderly citizens in the San Diego area.

For more information about the San Diego Food Bank, visit their website.

My friend Cedric and I volunteered at New to You in Broadview, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). Parents from his son’s school were there to help set up a holiday display. And so were we.

 

After volunteering in northwest Indiana, my friend Cedric and I drove the short distance to the Indiana/Michigan border, where we stopped in the town of New Buffalo to do beach clean up along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Gary, Indiana is a town I’ve driven by for years on my way to somewhere else. In the upper Midwest it’s a well known place, perhaps most known for its troubles after the decline of industry in the Rust Belt. I stopped by Chicago to pick up my lifelong friend, Cedric, to head the short distance to Gary, so the two of us could meet with the awesome volunteer team at the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.

I look forward to visiting Gary, again, in the near future.

austinI was lucky to work with the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (sneaking in with a group of people from VMware) where we helped sort and build food boxes for people who will soon be moving into Habitat for Humanity homes.

From their website:

The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, a 501c(3) non-profit, is the largest hunger-relief charity in Central Texas providing food and grocery products, nutrition education and social services outreach to 300,000 clients each year through a network of 300 Partner Agencies.

More Capital Area Food Bank of Texas on the web:
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There aren’t many things better than walking around a lake at sunset. When the opportunity arose to do exactly that at Milford Wampold Memorial Park right outside the campus of LSU, who could decline? Joined by old friend, Lisa, we picked up garbage along the water and in the general park area. It’s easy to see the change you can make picking up garbage. Immediate change for the better.

ingauthierChances are, if you’re not from the area, you’re wondering is that that Gau-thee-aye or Gau-theor, but it’s neither. It’s Go-Shay. Who knew?

Anyway, stopped by the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Gauthier and helped clean kitty cages. So many adorable and hugely adoptable kittens and dogs are waiting for you. If you’re looking to get an animal, please consider adopting from a shelter. Also, if you’re already a pet owner, please, please, please get your animal spayed/neutered.

Thanks to volunteer friend Michelle and the team at the shelter, including: Lynn, Diane, and Austin.

Had an opportunity to stop by a park my father used to play in when he was younger. It’s pretty incredible what ends up in the weeds and, in this case, a small lake at Antioch Park in Mission Kansas. Here are things retrieved from the water:

Styrofoam cups (4)
Sprite can
Softball
4 Pokemon cards

Also got to see ducks and fish and lots of people enjoying nature, so it was more than worth filling a garbage bag to enjoy part of a Saturday afternoon.