MAKE A DIFFERENCE
A roundup of ways you can help improve our community
Published: Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
Veterans Award Night is Jan. 28
Once a year, the Alachua County Veterans Advisory Board hosts an event to reward the many volunteers who work at Veterans Posts in Alachua County year-round.
The 7th Annual Veterans Award Night begins at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Paramount Plaza Hotel, 2900 SW 13th St. The program — which includes a banquet, the presentation of veterans and nonveterans awards and a silent auction — features TV20's Dave Snyder and Ed Van Buren as masters of ceremonies.
Tickets are $30 per person. Contact Ed Van Buren at 562-9961. Tickets also will be available at the door.
Speak for the children
The busy holidays are over, and now is a great time to start the new year by helping children. Volunteer as a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for children who have been taken from their parents due to neglect and abuse.
In Alachua County, we have over 440 children in the dependency system and only about 160 volunteers to represent their best interests as they navigate a system that is confusing and frightening. You can be their lifeline — the one who can give them hope and who makes sure their voices are heard.
The next Guardian ad Litem class starts Jan 30. Call Lynn at 548-3823, or go to www.gal.alachua.fl.us for information.
4th Annual Spring Sale is March 24
The Retirement Home for Horses in Alachua is still in need of donations to sell at our 4th Annual Spring Sale on Saturday, March 24. We are a nonprofit organization that depends strictly on donations for support. Check out our website — www.millcreekfarm.org, under "News and Events" — for complete details, or contact Georgia Crosby at email@example.com.
2-week donation drive underway
The Gainesville Haven Hospice Attic Resale Store is holding a donation drive during the first two weeks of January to help replenish shelves that were emptied from holiday shopping. You can donate unwanted gifts and avoid long return lines at the mall and shopping centers.
It's also a great way to make last minute charitable donations in 2011 or your first of 2012. You will receive a tax donation receipt for your gift.
The Attic inventory includes new and gently used furniture, brand-name clothing, collectibles, electronics, books, housewares, antiques, jewelry, toys and more. All proceeds from the sale of donated items support unfunded patient care and programs in our community.
Donations are accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at Haven Hospice Attic of Gainesville, 300 NW Eighth Ave.
Haven Hospice is North Florida's expert in end-of-life and palliative care and is one of three 2008 Circle of Life Award winners nationwide. For more information, visit www.havenhospice.org, or call 800-727-1889.
Need for food collection remains
Thank you, Gainesville, for helping make the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays brighter for those in need. Hunger doesn't take a holiday; it is a silent epidemic that affects millions of Americans.
Of the 50.2 million people facing hunger, over 17.2 million are children. Thirty percent of households with seniors indicated that they have to choose between food and medical care.
The need for food assistance is ongoing. When you "buy one, get one," donate the free item to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. Or consider conducting a food drive. Each dollar donated helps us buy and distribute up to 10 pounds of food.
Volunteers are always welcome to help sort and shelve food. To learn more, call 336-0839 or visit our website at www.breadofthemighty.org.
Middle, high school mentors needed
Take Stock In Children provides deserving students with the guidance of a caring adult mentor and the incentive of a four-year college tuition scholarship.
Mentors are needed to befriend, support and advocate for middle and high school students that have pledged to stay in school, keep up their grades and stay out of trouble. Most students will be the first in their family to attend college and need guidance on exploring their college and career options.
Mentors meet at the student's school once a week for about an hour. For more information, contact 955-7246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hoggetowne Medieval Faire
Volunteers needed for annual event
Come be swept away with medieval magic by volunteering at the 26th Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. Step back in time at the Alachua County Fairgrounds Jan. 28-29 and Feb. 3-5.
Become a part of Gainesville's rich tradition of community service while enjoying one of North Central Florida's most exciting cultural events. Volunteers will receive a one-day pass for free admission to the Faire.
The success of the Faire depends on the commitment and dedication of our volunteers. We need your help to make this year's event as grand as ever. Volunteer shifts are four hours long and include a variety of opportunities. Volunteers can take tickets, distribute programs, oversee the exhibits in the children's art and essay-contest area or booth-sit while artisans take breaks.
For more information about this volunteer opportunity with the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, contact Linda Piper at 393-8536 or download an application from www.gvlculturalaffairs.org. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoggetowneMedievalFaire.
Assist with taxes
The Alachua County section of AARP Foundation Tax-Aide — the nation's largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service — is seeking volunteers to help low- to moderate-income taxpayers prepare and file their 2012 tax returns.
Volunteers do not need to be an AARP member or retiree to participate. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers receive free tax training and are reimbursed on a limited basis for qualified program-related expenses. For more information about how you can join the Alachua County AARP Foundation Tax-Aide team, email email@example.com, call 339-1801, visit www.aarp.org/tavolunteer8, or check us out on Facebook.
Tax-Aide is a program of the AARP Foundation, offered in conjunction with the IRS.
Host French exchange student
Bring French culture into your own home by hosting one of 10 high school students (ages 14-18) from France for two to four weeks in July. As a host family (single or couple, with or without children), you provide room and meals. The students come to improve fluency in the English language and to enjoy American cultural.
Students come with a group leader/chaperone for Florida and some spending money. They are fully insured for medical and other emergencies.
You can gain a rich, warm experience of foreign culture, learn a few French words, if interested, and have an opportunity to get invited to their home in France.
There is no charge for hosting. Call Judy Charudattan, director of ╔cole Franšaise and Florida coordinator, at 332-8198, or visit www.frenchfunfood.com for details.
Families in need
Please donate CFL light bulbs, a toddler bed and mattress, or gift cards to Publix, Wal Mart, Home Depot and Kangaroo gas station. Your donations make a huge impact on women and children in need.
Arbor House, a living and learning motherhood community, serves homeless single-mother families while they pursue goals that lead to self-sufficiency and spiritual wholeness.
For more information, contact Michelle Burton at 371-2229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mentor a child
Kids Count in Alachua County, a nonprofit organization, partners with schools, churches, and civic organizations to offer programs that inspire hope, enhance learning, improve confidence and build social skills among elementary children who need extra support to succeed in school and life.
Community volunteers are the heart of the Kids Count after-school program. The following volunteer opportunities are available, but we also welcome additional contributions: tutor, homework helper, librarian, reading buddy, artist, scrapbooker, writer, family resource center attendant, sewer, kitchen helper and musician.
We follow the Alachua County school schedule and work with 20 students in grades K-3, 2:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 12:30-4 p.m. on Fridays.
Kids Count is located behind Faith United Methodist Church at 3701 NE 15th St. All volunteers must fill out an application form and attend a volunteer orientation. For more information, call Elizabeth Jacobbe at 372-0038, or visit www.kidscountalachuacounty.org.
Fiction, self-help titles needed
For over 12 years, Books for Prisons of Florida Inc. has collected and distributed books to 23 correctional facilities in North Central Florida. Current hardback or paperback fiction books are needed to help fill prison and jail libraries. This local nonprofit is a 501(c)(3) organization, and receipts for tax deductible book donations are available upon request.
We can not accept audio books, magazines or religious texts, but self-help books, fiction and similar books for adults and young adults are desperately needed. Any donations we can not use are donated to the Friends of the Library.
Books can be dropped off at 2321-B NW 41st St. in Gainesville. If you have any questions, please call 375-8195.