Three places to make a difference this year

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With November upon us and Halloween over, it seems that all eyes are turning eagerly toward Thanksgiving. As the next big American holiday approaching, you can expect November to be all about gorging yourself on turkey and, of course, giving thanks for all of the good things in your life.

November is also a great time to give back to your community and lend a hand to those less fortunate. For those of us with hectic schedules, giving back could be as simple as dropping off some things you don’t need at the nearest Goodwill donation site, or keeping an eye peeled for the next on-campus blood drive. If you’re looking to get a bit more hands on, however, we’ve got a few suggestions:

The Greater Lansing Food Bank

The Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) is a nonprofit that provides emergency food to those in need, as well as establishing and supporting community gardens across the greater Lansing area. The GLFB serves tens of thousands of people each year, including seniors, children and the working poor, people who are employed but do not make enough to meet their needs.

Get Involved

“We use volunteers in every aspect of the food bank — from picking up and delivering donations to working at special events and fundraisers,” says GLFB volunteer coordinator, Sarah Szwejda.

Volunteers can help out in community gardens during spring and summer, and year-round in the GLFB’s warehouse, where food is sorted and packaged. Szwejda adds, “We simply could not serve our community in the capacity we do without our volunteer base!”

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The City Rescue Mission of Lansing

The City Rescue Mission (CRM) has been serving the Lansing community for over 100 years. The three areas of focus are food, shelter and hope. Meals are served at the City Rescue Mission 365 days a year. The largest shelter in the Lansing area, it offers over 100 beds, as well as personal hygiene kits to any in need. The CRM also provides spiritual counseling and services for those who seek it.

Get Involved

The CRM has numerous volunteer opportunities available throughout the year. From serving meals to sorting donations to checking in shelter guests there is no shortage of ways to get involved.

“We are always looking for volunteers who are willing and able to meet our greatest needs,” says Gina Malcangi, volunteer coordinator at the CRM, “Whether it is a one-time or recurring opportunity, we are thankful for our faithful volunteers!”

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Formerly ONELIFE, the nonprofit organization POINT has a chapter located in East Lansing. POINT is unique because it is an organization that supports other nonprofits. Mara Ohorodnik, president of the Michigan State University chapter of POINT said, “The MSU Chapter of POINT is a nonprofit organization that is changing the way students connect to charity both on and off campus.” This change comes with the rebranding of the organization, as well as POINT’s development of the very first charity phone app. “Our charities are constantly changing, but our mission stays the same,” Ohorodnik says. “We focus on world needs throughout the semester and host fundraising events on campus to raise awareness and money.”

Get Involved

In addition to raising awareness about important charities, POINT members also volunteer multiple times throughout each semester at charities such as the CRM of Lansing and the Food Bank of South Central Michigan in Battle Creek. “It’s local volunteering events like these (that are) why volunteers are extremely important to POINT and to the community,” says Ohorodnik.

The organization hosts an annual “trick or can” event on Halloween to collect canned goods for the CRM, as well as an annual 5K in support of a different nonprofit each year. The best way to get involved with POINT is to attend one of their meetings, held every other Wednesday evening in the Eppley Center. “We always welcome new members and charity suggestions at our meetings,” Ohorodnik adds. “And of course, there is always food to help fuel our ideas.”

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LeeAnn Connelly is a writer, editor and designer. She is in her final year as a professional writing student. Her specialties are editing, publishing and digital and technical writing. She is interested in developmental editing, visual rhetoric and digital communication. LeeAnn is an avid reader, music lover and Netflix marathoning champion.


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