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Bob Maxey
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Ronald McDonald House staff will be on hand at the Spirit of Giving event.

January 31, 2013
There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. And each one is seeking volunteers. Even the local nonprofits are looking for a few good Grosse Pointers to make a difference, expand their services and nourish their recipients.

Grosse Pointers, young and old, have a chance to find their niche in the community's plethora of nonprofits during the third Spirit of Giving. Some 100 nonprofit organizations are expected to be on hand from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Grosse Pointe North High School in an event sponsored by Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Public School System and SERVE. Organizations such as the Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade, The Parade Company, the Detroit Goodfellows, Special Olympics, the Ronald McDonald House, Detroit Rescue Mission, Youthville, Michigan State Alumni, International Brown Bag Lunches of Love, Front Porch, Special Dreams Farm, Interact and the Key Club are just a few of the nonprofits that will have staff and information about volunteer opportunities for all ages and covering all sorts of venues.

For instance, Interact and the Key Club are high school versions of Rotary International and Kiwanis clubs, respectively, and open to high school students. International Brown Bag Lunches encourages children and adults to help feed the hungry.

"This is open to the community," said Suzy Berschback, Community Affairs and Advocacy Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe. "There is something for every age.

"In the wake of (super storm) Sandy, there is discomfort from people. Everyone wants to see change. This is where you want to go," said Alicia Carlisle, founder of SERVE, a resource center for students searching for volunteer opportunities.

Berschback continued: "People are looking for purpose. We are show casing nonprofits and their volunteer needs. There is a purpose to life."

That purpose could be helping feed the hungry, provide warmth for an impoverished family, give a recreational opportunity to a child or shelter an abandoned dog.

Grosse Pointers have a soft spot in their hearts for animals, particularly dogs, making first time attendee Detroit Dog Rescue a possible table at which to stop and learn about its mission. Representatives will also have children's activities available.

What else

If gathering so many nonprofits in one spot was not enough, the event has immediate volunteer opportunities. Children can pack a dry meal for six for Kids Against Hunger. Carlisle has a goal of packing 10,000 meals in one night.

The process is an assembly line filling a plastic bag with white, long-grain rice, crushed soy, a blend of six dehydrated vegetables and a chicken-flavored vegetarian vitamin and mineral powder. The ingredients for this event were provided by a local family who wishes to remain anonymous.

Samples of the rehydrated mix are to be available to the attendees.

Another hands-on activity is provided by Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

According to Berschback, a stack of fleece pieces will be waiting for hands to turn them into no-sew blankets to be given to Beaumont patients.

And Beaumont is featuring an idea wall. Attendees can write their ideas for a better community on a sticker and adhere it to a large piece of paper. Berschback envisions these individual wishes and visions to be posted in a local store window.

Guests will be able to participate in "Soup for the Soul" by sampling soup provided by local restaurants and help out an organization. Restaurants provide a small bowl of soup and ask for a donation. At the evening's conclusion, the restaurants' staffs will chose a nonprofit in attendance to receive the entire donation, Carlisle said.

Restaurants providing soup are Sweet Little Sheila's (Italian wedding soup), Sidestreet Diner (tomato basil), Big Boy Restaurant (cream of broccoli), The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House (butternut squash) and Champs (chicken noodle).

"This is really catching on," she said of the Spirit of Giving. "I'm so excited the restaurants want to be a part of it."

Her excitement has infected the entire school system.

Each school, from Barnes Early Learning Center to the high schools, students and staff are promoting the Spirit of Giving the week prior to the event.

Each elementary school has instituted, the Shining Star program recognizing random acts of kindness to peers, teachers and administrators. At the end of the week, one family from each school will lead a contingent of children and parents to fill the Kids Against Hunger bags.

North has designated Tuesday through Friday as Spirit of Kindness Week. Tuesday, Jan. 29, was tie-dye day, the symbol of peace and love; Wednesday, Jan. 30, was concert T-shirt day, hear someoneout; Thursday, Jan. 31, was crazy sock day, sock someone with a compliment; Friday is green and gold day, keep North clean and green and abide by the Golden Rule.

The Class of 2013 sponsored a winter wear clothing drive for Fort Street Presbyterian Shelter during the week.

At South, Tuesday was pajama and scrubs day during which students were to comfort a friend. Students were also asked to donate sleeping bags and blankets for Sweet Dreamzzz, a Detroit non-profit providing at-risk, school-age children with bedtime essentials.

Wednesday was crazy sock day, give someone a compliment and donate socks for Sweet Dreamzzz. Students were to be good listeners on Thursday and donate toothpaste and toothbrushes, again for Sweet Dreamzzz.

Friday is blue and gold day during which students are to cheer up others, and again donate toothpaste and toothbrushes.

All four days, South's class officers were to hand out suckers to those participating in Spirit week and random acts of kindness.

Special needs students from Full Circle Upscale Resale in Grosse Pointe Park will provide containers of dirt and seeds, with the hope people will take care of the plants and donate them to the community garden in the spring.

These students, Services for Older Citizens volunteers and community members tend a large garden in Detroit to provide vegetables to SOC. The vegetables provide both supplement to SOC-served noon meals and are given to seniors citizens.

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