Kids are the coolest.
Kip was recently invited to speak to two classes of sixth graders at a local DC school. In addition to addressing civic engagement and volunteering, we were also able to work in some lessons about geography and environmental justice. And then for fun, the students tried on all sorts of stuff from our travels, including: a scuba mask and snorkel (left); a traditional Thai marriage hat (center); and a leather Outback hat plus Kip's backpack (right).
Thanks to their teacher, Peter M, for the invitation and for leading such an inquisitive, well-behaved bunch of sixth graders! There's not much we like better than spreading the word about volunteering!
There's something about working outdoors -- at least, when you have a choice in the matter -- that's surprisingly therapeutic. Call us crazy, but most of the time, it's even borderline fun (our parents will find this laughable considering how much we complained about yard mowing and wood cutting when we were kids).
So when we heard about an opportunity to help remove invasive plant species on an island in the middle of the Annacostia River in DC, and that said activities included clearing brush and using hand saws, we knew we were signing up. Even better, the clean up was organized by the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival, which we wanted to check out anyway since we're missing Jazz Fest in New Orleans the same weekend.
It's a safe bet that the large majority of DC residents couldn't find Kingman Island on a map, though the tree-covered refuge is more than a mile long, walkable from a Metro station and is a nature lovers paradise. We hadn't been there until a month ago when we drove past the long stretch of trees near RFK stadium and wondered why we'd never visited.
So we went. And thanks to the views and the birds and the solitude, we loved it. And then we found out about the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival and their volunteer clean up day and so that's how we ended up spending a stunning Saturday morning with about 100 other hard working folks sweating under the sun, using hand tools, clearing brush, hauling trees and getting in some of nature's best therapy. Hard to beleive volunteering could be such hard work...and so much fun. But it was. And just about always is.
TVs. Toaster ovens. Laptops. Running shoes. Bicycle tires.
These are just a few of the discarded items we picked up during this year's Rock Creek Park Extreme Clean Up.
One of the largest city park's in the country, Washington's Rock Creek Park runs from the northern tip of DC down to the Potomac River just a mile from the White House. It's an urban getaway, home to hardwood forests, hiking trails, steep ravines, rushing water and plenty of deer and birds.
Surprisingly, it's also home to trash. And lots of it. Which is why the Rock Creek Park Conservancy every spring hosts its annual Extreme Clean Up, featuring trash pickups at more than 50 locations along the 33 mile length of Rock Creek.
Together with a few recruits helpful 1 of 7 recruits, we joined the Conservancy for this year's event, helping clean up an area of the park of the park near the Adams Morgan neighborhood (see photos from our work at last year's Extreme Clean-Up).
Thanks to everyone who came out to join, especially David G (above with Liz), Jordan B (below), Matt, and Brian.
Yes, that's a toaster oven Kip's carrying.
If you're in the DC area next spring, don't miss the Rock Creek Park Extreme Clean Up. It's a rewarding, fun way to spend a few hours getting to know one of the nation's finest city parks. Plus, you never know what you'll find.
Help the Points of Light Foundation and 1 of 7 celebrate National Volunteer Week from April 6-12.
Need some idea? Peruse our site, or check out the Points of Light page for ideas.
THIS WEEK'S 1 OF 7: Spring is finally here! For most of us that means warmer temperatures, flowering trees, and happier humans (yayyy!). It's also the perfect time to do some serious spring cleaning.
This week, dig into those closets and cabinets, climb around the attic, go deep in the garage and get rid of all that stuff you no longer need and/or haven't used in a while. When you're done, pack it all up and donate it to a nonprofit in your area. Your house will be cleaner, you'll be doing something good, and you can even save money by scoring a nice tax write-off. Need tips? Here are a few on donating clothes and finding an organization to donate stuff to.
EXTRA CREDIT: Have a yard sale and donate the money to your favorite charity. Extra bonus--convince your neighbors to spring clean and join the sale!
ALTERNATIVE: You really expect us to believe you're totally clutter free?! If you really are, then you're our hero. Help family or a friend de-clutter their place and donate the stuff afterward.
If donating one pint of blood can save three lives, how many lives can 10 gallons save?
No, this isn't a fourth grade math problem. It's a legitimate question, at least if we're talking about the blood donating habits of former school principal and Sunday School teacher Larry Patrick.
Above, 10-Gallon Donor Larry Patrick shows off his mugs and his Mardi Gras Krewe T-Shirt from the LifeShare Blood Center in Louisiana.
A resident of Converse, La., Larry--aka, Papa to his granddaughters Izzy and Chelsea--has been donating blood and saving lives for years. The nurses at the LifeShare Blood Center know him by name and expect his visit at least once a month.
Larry can't honestly remember how many times he's donated blood, although he did find a "10 Gallon Donor" coffee mug in his kitchen cabinets.
So if we take the number of pints in a gallon (8) and multiply that by the number of gallons Larry's donated, the former math teacher could say he's saved 240 lives (8 x 10 x 3=240).
Of course, he'd never say something like that. Bragging isn't his forte, unless of course he's talking about his grandbabies. He would, however, encourage other people to get out and donate blood.
So why not join Larry and help celelbrate American Red Cross Month by donating blood?
Save a life. Save three. And you can even call it your "1 of 7" for this week. Click here to find a donation center near you.
Spring is near, which means it's almost cherry blossom time in Washington, DC. Looking for a fun way to experience the festival and do some good in the process? Volunteer!
Event organizers are always looking for people to lend a hand, particularly during the annual parade and kite festival. Learn details HERE!
Not in DC? It's festival season in many places -- most are happy to have eager volunteers.
March is Red Cross Month, which means this week is a great opportunity to donate blood. Need three reasons to give?
How about the three lives one pint of blood could save? This week, visit the Red Cross website to find a blood drive near you and help save a life.
EXTRA CREDIT: Organize a blood drive in your office/church/school
ALTERNATIVE: Don't like needles or can't give? Check out other ways to support the Red Cross.
We met Cinde Jeheber, aka, the Ocelot Whisperer, in Costa Rica last year. Cinde volunteered with us at at the Monkey Park Foundation, where we prepped food for various animals, such as monkeys, marmosets, and one sultry female ocelot.
Last week, we heard from Cinde in Nicaragua, where she traveled to build houses for the homeless. Between hammering nails and digging holes, she found a scared little puppy so shaggy it looked more like a little lamb than a dog.
She asked Carmen, one of the women her team was building a house for, if she could use her water to wash the puppy. They scrubbed it clean and dried it, and from then on, the little dog kept going into Carmen's new house and laying down, as if he lived there.
After a while, Cinde decided to ask the new home owner if she would like a puppy. Immediately, Carmen started crying, saying “I've been living outside for 15 years all alone, now I have a house and a dog!"
And that's how Cinde's Random Act of Kindness to a lamb-looking puppy helped a lady get her first dog.
Thanks for continuing to give back, Cinde! You inspire us!