Friday, December 17, 2010

Smorgasbord and Merry Christmas!

Fair trade goods for Christmas! 
If you live in Southeastern Michigan, it should come as no surprise that many places canceled Monday and Tuesday — not the news though! My round trip commute to work, which is just less than forty miles, ended up taking nearly four hours. Banging my head against my steering wheel, I was glad to find out that afternoon tutoring was canceled for the night.

But, I still got to hang out yesterday for an international potluck. A feast. And it was delicious.

Though the only country I have yet to travel outside of the U.S. to is Canada, tutoring ESL has given me a small taste of other cultures. Last night was no exception. As I ate a variety of foods representing German, Polish and Asian cultures, I realized that we are all so much alike. I also realized that if I had the money, I would hire one of the students as my personal chef. Bring on the sauteed peppers with feta!

Give us good food, and stories of families come tumbling out. Who doesn't have problems with inlaws? OK, I'm actually pretty lucky in that field, but many are not. This experience has made me realize how much I like tutoring English to non-native speakers. There are only two classes left after the holidays, and I will not be staying for the second semester. I feel sad about this, and wonder if my Tuesday nights will seem a little dull.

Though I love it, and want to continue in the future, the goal of the blog was to try a variety of volunteer opportunities and share them. Because there is no class next week, I will be helping out the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign.

Yep, I will be begging for  your coin outside of the White Lake Kroger Wednesday. OK, I won't actually beg, but I will ring that bell heartily.

As Christmas quickly approaches, there are still many things that you can do to make a difference, locally and globally.

- Many stores, churches, shelters and nonprofit organizations offer ways to donate or adopt a family for Christmas. Most lists ask for gift items for children, clothing and food. While you won't know the family directly, you will know that on Christmas, you have made a difference in making the holiday special. I can't list every organization that offers this service, but here are a couple local groups that can always use money to help families:

Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency can always use donations, especially around the holidays. A couple of years ago, I reported on a local Optimist Club who delivered gifts to children there. It seeks volunteers year-round.

Lighthouse of Oakland County offers emergency services. It also has a wish list of items many families need. Or, if you have some time, a multitude of volunteer opportunities are available. Secretaries, drivers, and more are all needed.

Toys for Tots is another easy way to give back. Many local stores have a drop boxes at their locations, taking the guess work out of giving.

For those who are still shopping for gifts, (I know many of you are!) fair-trade goods offer a way to give a unique gift while helping out the artisans who created it. I just bought gifts from Global Girlfriend. The shipping was fast and inexpensive, and I am more than happy with my purchases. There are many more similar websites. I chose this one because I liked the products and it was endorsed by Oprah, which meant I could be lazy and didn't have to check if it was legit. But there are many others out there, so if you find one, please share it.

See you at Kroger!


  1. Charities are hurting this year. It's a good deed you are doing. I hope the weather isn't too cold while you're ringin.

  2. Ha, I'm lucky that my supervisor is so flexible with my schedule! No grinches in our office :) Thanks!