6:40 AM EST, January 17, 2013
To my surprise, I received an invitation in the mail from the Presidential Inaugural Committee to participate in the inauguration of the President and Vice President on Jan. 21.
It turns out it is just a commemorative invitation and not an actual ticket to attend the official inaugural events. However, it did include information on an opportunity for you and me and to participate in the National Day of Service on Jan 19, which kicks off Inauguration weekend.
On this day, the President, Vice President and their families will participate in service projects in Washington, D.C., honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Americans in communities across the country will be joining in "A Day On, Not a Day Off." Go to http://www.2013pic.org to learn how you can participate in the National Day of Service.
Howard County is no exception; however, Howard County will hold its MLK Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 21, the day we mark the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Volunteer Center Serving Howard County has many partners, which are offering volunteer opportunities that day. Among them are The Arc of Howard County, Boy Scout Troop 618, Community Action of Howard County, Howard County Fire and Rescue, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Domestic Violence Center of Howard County, Howard County Office on Aging/Tiber Hudson Senior Apartment Complex, Howard County Health Department/Red Cross, Lighthouse Senior Living Center, Neighbor Ride, USO-Metro Fort Meade and Girls on the Run Central MD.
Paint a room or two in one of The Arc of Howard County's community homes, which house people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Donate blood that day. The Howard County Health Department is looking for 500 donors.
Have "Fun with Seniors" at Tiber Hudson Senior Apartment Complex by spending time and playing games with seniors. Canned goods will be collected and distributed to the residents. This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to seniors who have contributed so much to our community and our society. This is also a good opportunity for seniors to help other seniors.
If you love horses, you can volunteer at Days End Farm and do general barn chores and clean and pull weeds in the horse fields.
Howard County Fire and Rescue will teach cardiac arrest awareness and Hands-Only CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator. You can also learn about the Domestic Violence Center's services and qualify to become a part of the staff and the solution.
Get in touch with your creative side and make cards for service members throughout the metropolitan region. It's a chance for us seniors to color again.
For detailed information on Howard County's MLK Day of Service volunteer opportunities and to sign up to reserve your space, go to http://www.volunteerhoward.org/hocomlkserve. On that page, click on "click here" to see a Volunteer Opportunities Calendar. Spaces are limited for some projects, so sign up soon.
All volunteers are invited to a "Day of Service" kick off from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, in Columbia. Join County Executive Ken Ulman and Howard County Office of Human Rights Administrator Dr. C. Vernon Gray in this celebration. Bring a canned food item to benefit the Howard County Food Bank.
Hopefully this day of service will be a jumping off point for your ongoing volunteerism in the community in the coming year. Make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
Before I close, I want to pass on a tip I found in one of the newsletters I received. Don't know what to do with those holiday greeting cards you received? You can recycle them instead of trashing them. St. Jude's Ranch for Children recycles greeting cards into new ones they sell to help fund their programs for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. They accept the fronts, with no writing on back, of all types of greeting cards; however, they cannot accept American Greetings, Disney and Hallmark.
Cards sized 5 by 7 or smaller are best. The most cost-effective way to get the cards to them is by a flat-rate box from the Postal Service. Mail donations to: St. Jude's Ranch for Children, Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude's St., Boulder City, NV 89005. For more information about their programs, go to http://www.stjudesranch.org.