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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
One of my favorite places in America is Picher, Oklahoma, a highly toxic ghost town in Oklahoma near the Kansas border. There weren’t any opportunities to volunteer there (at least none that would be safe for me to do). I stopped in Miami, Oklahoma–the next closest town–at the Stonehill Grill where I spoke with Madison who pointed me in the direction of a local park. Another day outside, picking up trash, enjoying nature, and feeling good about the world.