Today is the first day of school for public school children. It is also the first day of "real school" for my youngest.
I'm told the experience is comparable to such parental traumas as the first set of stitches or the first broken bones among the offspring.
So, today I am the brave-faced parent, waving at a shaking youngster, smiling mightily (in hopes that my daughter's last look at me is a pleasant view and that she'll want to come home afterward) and joking with the neighbors about all the bonbons I'm going to consume now that I have the time to eat them.
For years I've been regaled with tales of the youngest's first day of school, of two-hour sob sessions of lonely parents, of naps planned but not taken and other flurries of activity designed to remove all thought of the terrors of the quiet house from one's mind.
But I'll do better than that. I plan to play the Who at great volume. You know, "I'm FREE! . . ." I'll dance like a maniac, sing along, take a bubble bath . . . and burst into tears.
Last week, if you read this column, you learned about places to volunteer right here in Southeast Carroll County for you are a student interested in working on your 75-hour service requirement (and any others who would like to put their hand in). I said that it was far from an exhaustive list, and now I'll prove it.
In addition to the fire departments, Piney Run's Apple Festival and the already volunteer-laden public library, there are bag meals for homeless, craft groups for nonprofit institutions, care centers for the elderly and much more.
Carol Deal, the community outreach chairwoman for Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, has a score of projects that anyone with a loving heart could help. Adults are as welcome as kids, too. You don't have to be Lutheran, just willing to join the fun and do your best to help.
Every second Wednesday at the church, Ms. Deal and a crew of big-hearted people prepare bag meals for homeless people of Baltimore. You could help them. It's easy, and it's very welcome help to the folks who look forward to these meals.
If you would like to participate, leave a message for Ms. Deal at the church. She requests that all who come to help out bring something to share with the homeless, such as bread, toothpaste, etc.
"People sometimes don't realize how much a little thing can mean to someone who doesn't have much," Ms. Deal said, "A couple of days ago, I approached a homeowner with a tree full of fruit, just asking to be picked. The owners were very happy to let my kids and me pick the tree, and we brought the fruit to a soup kitchen in Westminster. Fresh fruit is not very common in a soup kitchen, so everyone was just delighted."
Ms. Deal arranges several social outreach programs in addition to the bag meals and will be happy to discuss ways to help less fortunate people with an eager volunteer. You can leave a message for her at 795-6333.
Eldersburg Care, an adult day care center, occasionally has young people help with its programs. You could read with elderly, help with their parties and spread a little good cheer. If you are interested in long-term relationships in a volunteer capacity, this is a good place to call. Speak to Christina Peach, the director, at 795-4686.
Wesley-Freedom Methodist Church has an active crafts group that makes toys for hospitalized children and is host to a large crafts fair each fall to raise money for the church. If you are skilled with a needle, hot glue gun and scissors, you may enjoy helping the group. Call the church at 795-2777 and leave a message for Sherry Perrine.
Those who are looking for young volunteers can give me a call any time. I'll be happy to pass along the information.