Karen Overstreet | 4/22/2005 12:19:23 AM
Do you tend to volunteer around a holiday? If so, February has lots of opportunities for you, according to LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist Dr. Karen Overstreet.
Surprised? Overstreet invites you to use your imagination and tie in with less celebrated occasions. For example, if animals are your passion, consider adopting a pet from the animal shelter on Groundhog Day - or donate pet food for shelter animals.
Check to see if area nursing homes allow visits from pets. If so, take your favorite animal for a walk in their facilities. Note that often visits from animals are restricted to those specially trained or experienced with animal therapy.
If you attend religious services on Ash Wednesday, see if elderly neighbors would enjoy going with you. Even if you don’t attend, check on the young mother who would like to go but can’t leave her children. Offer to watch them while she attends services.
The time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is seen as a time of reflection by many faiths. Overstreet suggests sending a short note to someone each day during that time to let them know you are thinking of them. Can’t think of 40 people? Consider these: your child’s teacher or coach, the newspaper carrier who you have never seen but always delivers the paper on time, the receptionist at your doctor’s office who is always pleasant even when you’re not, the volunteer who cleans up after your children’s Sunday school classes, the mechanic who goes out of his way to accommodate you, a teacher who influenced your career.
"And, don’t forget your own family," Overstreet says. "An unexpected note will make their day."
February 11 is another opportunity to volunteer. What’s special about that day? It’s Thomas Edison’s birthday, of course. Although we can’t imagine living without his inventions, most of us don’t think about his birth. Changing light bulbs for neighbors who may have difficulty with such tasks is a good job for teen volunteers.
On Presidents Day, write a letter to your public officials letting them know you appreciate their efforts. If you have an issue that needs addressing, celebrate the day by gathering with others to begin your campaign. Have a "stuffing envelopes party" or other activity that will get the ball rolling.
Of course Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day offer lots of opportunities for community service as well as celebrations. Either join existing projects or create one of your own. Young children love to be involved in making cards or cookies to deliver to others.
"Any of the celebrations can be enhanced by making your own cards or creating a party around the theme," the family expert says, adding, "Make this a family activity with something for everyone to do. February may be a short month but it’s crammed full of opportunities."
For information on related family and consumer topics in family, housing and nutrition, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.