Wailuku, HI

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/

Kihei, Hawaii

Hoaloha ‘Aina (aka South Maui Volunteers)

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.

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!

More about Hoaloha ‘Aina (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.

Hoaloha ‘Aina on the web:
Website

 

San Diego, California

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.

More about San Diego Food Bank (from their website):

The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 22 million pounds of food, and the Food Bank serves, on average, 370,000 people per month in San Diego County.

The Food Bank receives food from the USDA, food manufacturers, food retailers, the agricultural sector, food drives, and through financial contributions that enable us to purchase protein-rich foods, fresh produce, and dry staple foods such as beans, oatmeal, and rice. We also benefit from the generosity of more than 28,000 volunteers annually that help to sort and distribute donated and purchased food products.

The Food Bank works to acquire, store, organize, and distribute food through a network of 330 nonprofit partner organizations that include food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless and residential shelters, youth programs, senior centers, and low-income daycare centers in communities throughout San Diego County.  The Food Bank also distributes food directly to those in need at 183 distribution sites throughout the county.

In 2010, the families of Joan and Irwin Jacobs and Stephen and Marjorie Cushman donated $1.76 million to pay off the Food Bank’s mortgage on our Miramar warehouse facility making the organization effectively debt free. To honor the generosity and long-term support of both families, the Food Bank was renamed the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

San Diego Food Bank on the web:
Website
Facebook

 

Broadview, Illinois

New to You

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.

More about New to You (from their website):

We are an upscale non-profit resale store located in Broadview, Illinois (western suburb of Chicago), at the corner of Roosevelt and 17th Avenue.
All merchandise is donated. All workers except for the store managers are volunteers.

The store offers a wide variety of new and used items including but not limited to antiques and other collectibles, books, boutique items, clothing, electronics, furniture, housewares, jewelry, music, videos, shoes, small appliances, sporting goods, and toys.

New to You on the web:
Website

 

New Buffalo, Michigan

Direct Action

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

Food Bank of Northwest Indiana

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.

More about Food Bank of Northwest Indiana (from their website):

Our mission is to alleviate hunger by acquiring and distributing food to people in need, promoting solutions that advance self-sufficiency and hunger relief, and leading our region in the fight against hunger.

Food Bank of Northwest Indiana on the web:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Austin, Texas

austin

Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

I 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.

More about the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (from their website):

We work with food donors across the country, financial supporters and volunteers to fill unmet needs in Central Texas. This commitment from private, government and charitable partners has allowed us to bring 31 million meals to our community last year and into the hands of families and local nonprofits that turn to us for help. There are three key ways we do this.

We share free food and our knowledge on low-cost, healthy eating with families in need. Learn how we stock their shelves, provide healthy meals and educate.

We assist families who qualify for federal assistance programs. Learn how we connect families to life-enhancing resources.

And finally, we make food affordable for charitable and government partners. The quality food and food resources we provide means that they can spend their limited resources to enhance their programs. Learn how we strengthen community services.

Capital Area Food Bank of Texas on the web:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Direct Action

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.

Gauthier, Mississippi

ingauthier

Jackson County Animal Shelter

Chances 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.

More about the Jackson County Animal Shelter (from their website):

The Jackson County Animal Shelter was established in 1985 and is the only animal shelter in the county. It is located on three acres adjacent to the County soccer complex on Audubon Lane in Gautier, just off Highway 90. The shelter handles all animal control needs for all the county’s municipalities.

The shelter has the capacity to accommodate 154 medium sized animals (cats and dogs), and four larger animals, such as goats and horses.

Animal control officers work to serve the unincorporated sections of the county. The officers work during regular hours but are always on call, including nights, weekends and holidays to answer emergency calls, such as dog bites and reports of rabid animals.

The shelter averages almost 100 pet adoptions a month. Unfortunately, for every animal adopted five new animals arrive at the shelter.

Jackson County Animal Shelter on the web:
Website
Facebook

 

Mission, Kansas

Direct Action

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.