love to do last-minute surprise drop-offs of cards and tiny gifts.
“christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
-charles m. schulz
image credit: etsy.com
try as he might
my colleague was not able to convince anyone
to steal from him
or trade with him
for this monstrosity of a white elephant gift
that he randomly chose
at our faculty holiday party
it was as huge as a shield, very heavy, and not the most beautiful
(even said on the back that it was microwaveable,
but would not come anywhere near fitting
into any microwave i’ve ever seen,
and was edged in metal)
but we did laugh about it the entire time
and that is certainly worth something.
‘the manner of giving is worth more than the gift.’
*GLOBAL DETROIT is a nonprofit regional economic development initiative that believes immigrants and refugees are critical to job creation, regional growth, and prosperity. Global Detroit is revitalizing Metro Detroit’s economy by mobilizing its immigrant potential. We are an innovator and expert in connecting international talent with regional businesses’ unmet talent needs, catalyzing the growth and development of immigrant entrepreneurs, revitalizing neighborhoods, and building a globally-competitive and inclusive region.
In addition to our local efforts, Global Detroit has spearheaded the creation of the Welcoming Economies Global Network (WE Global), a ten-state regional collaborative
of 20 peer local immigrant economic development initiatives across the Rust Belt. WE Global Network is a project of Welcoming America, run in partnership with Global Detroit.
“make a difference about something other than yourselves.”
thank you Toni Morrison, for your many inspirational words.
credits: *global detroit (image and story), WE global
Children at San Rufo elementary school in Salerno, southern Italy, are swapping plastic for books. A bookseller/cafe owner in southern Italy is offering free books to schoolchildren who bring him one plastic bottle and one aluminum can to recycle. Michele Gentile, who founded the Ex Libris Cafe bookshop in Polla, a small town near Salerno, said he wants to encourage kids to read while doing something for the environment.
“My goal is to spread the passion and love for books among those people in Italy who do not usually read, while at the time helping the environment,” he said. “I hope the initiative becomes so viral that it affects the whole country. It will be revolutionary, not only for the planet but also for the education of children and their job prospects,” he said.
The books being donated for the initiative are the so-called “pending” or “suspended” books (“libri sospesi” in Italian), a concept introduced by Gentile a few years ago that earned him headlines in national media. The term derives from the “suspended coffee” Neapolitan tradition, born during World War II, of purchasing two coffees: one for yourself and the second one as an anonymous gift for the next customer in need who walks into the bar. Similarly, Ex Libris customers can buy one book and leave the second one “suspended” for whomever needs it.
The idea for the “plastic/metal for books” recycling initiative came to Gentile while he was looking at a huge pile of metallic waste left abandoned on a field. “It was worth at least 300-400 euros ($338-$451), enough to pay for a middle school kid’s book allowance for a year,” he said. “So, I talked to a local school, and they organized an aluminum collection. Results were extraordinary, about 2 quintals ($564) in two days.” With the money he got from the recycling center, Gentile bought books for a whole class. “So, I thought: Why not (give) away books to kids who bring me plastic bottles and cans?” he said.
His initiative, which involves individuals and schools, has already reached northern Italy, with children from Bordighera, in the Liguria region, sending him 23 bottles and 23 cans to recycle. “Yesterday alone, I donated 60 suspended books,” Gentile said. “Imagine if this becomes a small game: Every child in the world swaps a plastic bottle and a can for books. I know it’s just a dream, but why not do it?“
“it takes generosity to discover the whole through others.
If you realize you are only a violin,
you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.”
-jacques yves cousteau
credits: cnn world news, gianluca mezzofiore
i happily take part
in a wonderful program
to help warm the children.
through the generosity of the local community
money and time are donated
to provide new warm clothing for children in need.
children are referred
by school counselors and social workers.
these families meet with volunteer shoppers
to help with the process.
all of the money raised
goes directly to purchasing clothing,
with no administrative costs
subtracted from the donations.
i am one of the volunteers who take the families shopping
and never fail to be amazed by the people i meet.
on my shopping trip this year
i met a single mother whose husband had died
raising sons, 12 and 16
supporting them by working at mcdonald’s,
her oldest son works at taco bell
she’s had a rough time of things lately
extra money has been harder to come by
both sons are in school, play football, and do chores at home.
when i asked how she was able to do it all
she told me, “life goes up and down. you just do what you have to do.”
after we shopped for her sons’ winter clothing
we made our way to the register.
just ahead of us in line
another family was checking out
who were also program recipients.
after being rung up, it was discovered
that they had gone just a bit over their allotted budget
and were going to have to put something back.
the mother i had shopped with
reached into her purse
and gave them the $1.89 they needed.
what an incredibly generous act of compassion
from someone who had so little herself
as she helped someone else to warm their children
when we checked out and went to leave
she hugged me and said,
“thank you so much, i always pay it forward.”
“to keep a warm heart in winter is the real victory.”
participating partners: kiwanis club of ann arbor, washtenaw county, walmart, mlive, old national bank, ann arbor news
as our temps take a dip into the zero-ish range,
it is good to remember the importance of connection,
the joy of giving to others, and the comfort of the sun.
“it is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake,
the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam.
this crisp winter air is full of it.”
~john burroughs, “Winter Sunshine”
painting by: francesca rizzato – ‘Winter’s Tale’
found this sweet surprise
waiting for me in my mailbox
a very old tiny sleigh with a handwritten letter
from a neighbor i’ve never met
who’s lived nearby for over 50 years
she left it for me to add to my fairy garden
when the season is right
she took the trouble to repaint the sleigh
and write me this lovely note
wanting to visit the garden
but too shy to stop by to see it up close
it was such a kind and thoughtful gesture
i wanted to thank her and figured out where she lived
then wrote her a long letter back
to let her know
how much i enjoyed her special gift
and what it meant to me
i really hope that we meet in person in my garden one day.
“give what you have. to someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”
― henry wadsworth longfellow