It occurred to me a few weeks back that I’ve never actually volunteered. For anything.
I could probably rattle off one hundred reasons why, but that’s not important. What’s important is I decided to reflect on my good fortune in life and dedicate just a couple hours of my time to a cause that helps others who are in need. Lucky for me, the company I work for organizes volunteer opportunities at the Maryland Food Bank – and that seemed like the perfect way to get involved.
The Maryland Food Bank is a distribution center that provides food to nearly 1,000 organizations that help feed families in need. It’s amazing what they are able to accomplish through donations and the right partnerships. Each year, they provide about 29 million meals – or 79,000 every day – and their mission is to continue until hunger ends. Pretty impressive, right?
I didn’t feel like a better person walking out of the Food Bank after 2 hours of packing boxes. That’s not how it works. Mine was a tiny contribution to an immense problem. But I know I could easily do more for the community I’ve chosen to live in and, eventually, raise my family in.
There are so many volunteer organizations to choose from. Do I want to help kids? Animals? Victims of domestic abuse? Fight for a cure? What about people who’ve lost everything and are now homeless? Or maybe veterans? Do I want to stay local in my county? Or maybe I want to help in the inner city? After thinking about it for a while, I know my passion will be helping children – it’s so important to empower kids with a sense of self-worth and teach them that education is the key to living the best possible life.
It’s literally the least I could do, to devote my time and maybe a little money to an organization that helps children in need. I’ve been researching different opportunities and think I’ve found a few that I believe in and would be proud to be a part of. What started as a simple project to give back has turned into a desire to really, truly help others and build the community around me. I hope to continue to document this journey to inspire others to get involved (and honestly, to keep myself accountable for the goals I have).
Have you volunteered for a specific cause? What was your experience like?
You know when you have plans and life goes “Haha, nice try!” right in your face? This month has been a whirlwind – two work trips, a long weekend in Michigan to visit family, Halloween/birthday party planning, with a bad cough/cold in between… Whew! I’m looking forward to a level-set in November, but right now I’m focused on enjoying this last week of October.
While I had planned on doing a few more fall-themed posts this month, I decided to not stress about the missed days and highlight “what could have been” – it will be great to come back to these ideas next year!
Apple Orchards: If you’re looking for more than just good cider and donuts, try an apple orchard! You might get lucky and find one with family hayrides, corn mazes, and even an on-site restaurant. You can find one in your state by visiting this website.
Pumpkin Carving Party: As a kid, I really hated carving pumpkins. You’d always find me dry-heaving in a corner somewhere, grossed out by the smell and texture of pumpkin innards (gross). I was only a little bit dramatic, I swear. So of all my big ideas, this was the one I was most looking forward to – I want to get over my pumpkin guts phobia… but no one wants to plan/host a party when you’re sick, so I’m putting this on my October 2015 bucket list. Martha has you covered if you still have time to plan one of your own.
Fall Picnic: I’m blessed to live in an area full of beautiful parks. Once the leaves start to change next fall, I’m planning an easy menu for a lunch near the lake at Centennial Park.
Haunted Houses: Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll make it to a haunted house this season. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but back in Michigan there were so many fantastic choices… We’ve yet to find a good, local haunt spot. A couple of years ago we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary which was pretty spooky (if you could get over the hundreds of other people who were walking through the halls of the haunted prison).
Horror Movies: Luckily, being sick hasn’t prevented us from enjoying some gruesome horror films. I’ve gone from tolerating to actually enjoying most of the horror movies my husband has exposed me to – I prefer more psychological, mind-twisting stories over the standard blood-and-guts variety. One of my recent favorites is “Maniac” with Elijah Wood (super creepy!)… but maybe I’ll muster up the courage to finally watch “Saw” on its 10-year anniversary.
Costume Party: Instead of a house party this year, we’re taking our Halloween/Alex’s Birthday celebrations down to Fell’s Point in Baltimore. It’s great for the people-watching and bar-hopping prospects – check out these pictures from just a couple of years ago. I’m pretty excited about my homemade costume this year, I’m sure I’ll share a couple before and after pics on Instagram 🙂
What fun fall activities did you get into this season? And what exciting plans do you have for Halloween? Let me know in the comments!
Even if you’re not into medieval sword fighting, fire-breathing dragons, wearing corsets, or shopping for leather goods, I highly recommend visiting a local renaissance festival. We go every year during the fall season, so it’s become a bit of tradition for us (we are lucky enough to have lived near the Michigan and now Maryland sites).
People watching is one of my favorite pastimes, and RennFest is a great place for it – people go all out on their costumes, like this group who made their own!
I love walking in and out of the little shops and talking to the owners and artisans who are showcasing their goods.
Hands down, the best part of going to a RennFest is the entertainment. Musicians, magicians, sword swallowers, jesters, jousters, acrobats… The stages are full all day with high-quality acts that are more than worth the admission.
Have you attended a renfest in your area? What’s your favorite part?