The best alternative this holiday is to get involved

“This holiday season, why not do something for your mental health? With all of the chaos of holiday food, snowy weather and shopping, it’s easy to indulge in unhealthy foods, spend way too much money and steer clear of the gym. In all of this confusion, the true importance of the holidays is sometimes lost.”

This holiday season, why not do something for your mental health? With all of the chaos of holiday food, snowy weather and shopping, it’s easy to indulge in unhealthy foods, spend way too much money and steer clear of the gym.

In all of this confusion, the true importance of the holidays is sometimes lost. With the help of the Internet and on-campus organizations, University of Akron students can help give back to the community and the environment.

Instead of fighting the traffic and crowds at the malls just to buy unnecessary presents, think about investing in unique gifts that help save the environment.

Students can log onto www.nature.org and view the eco-friendly gifts that the Nature Conservancy has to offer.

The Web site states that the Nature Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Students can give the present of preservation by adopting portions of the U.S. or the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica in someone else’s name. The Nature Conservancy offers numerous land, ranging from half of an acre to one square mile to 20 acres. You can also give the gift of sponsoring the Solomon Islands discovery expedition in the South Pacific, help fund the research of a China glacier that is melting or help protect coral reef in the Coral Triangle.

Another Web site that allows you to give gifts that help others is www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com. Oxfam America works around the world to help people living in poverty. You find a gift and purchase it online, they send a card describing the gift to the person you intend to give it to, and then the money used for that gift is spent on someone, a program or a resource.

For example, Oxfam America offers gifts such as school uniforms, mosquito nets and enough water to irrigate a farmer’s land for two months, all costing under $25. The gifts range up to $500 or more and include houses on stilts, water trucks and emergency rescue kits. You can even give the gift of planting 100 trees. Whatever type of person you want to buy for, a caring and meaningful gift is just a click away.

Just because the holidays end, you don’t have to stop helping the community and the environment. The University of Akron’s new organization, Environmental Akron, is dedicated to addressing environmental awareness and initiatives on and off campus in the city of Akron. Students can stay up-to-date and involved in environmental issues and attend the meetings that include environmentally friendly speakers, videos and developing projects.

The 115 members of Environmental Akron have significantly contributed to the recycling effort on campus. Environmental Akron has created the cardboard recycling program on campus, cleaned up litter around the city and participated in Make a Difference Day.

Members of the organization will also participate in Solar Stage at Earth Day 2008. The participants will route cardboard from smaller building dock containers to a designated central drop location on campus to ensure a sustainable cardboard recycling program in partnership with the Blue, Gold, and Green Committee. Staying involved in helping the earth can be done year-round, and with this new organization, students have the opportunity to do their part. To support the group by purchasing an organic cotton T-shirt or to join in these eco-friendly events, contact Donny Davis at dmd45@uakron.edu.

You can also give back to the community throughout the year, especially when cleaning out your closets.
Dress for Success is an organization designed to help underprivileged women acquire careers. Their mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

You can donate new and nearly new skirts, pants, blouses, blazers, suits and shoes that are interview appropriate. To view the guidelines for donations or to contribute to this organization, log on to www.dressforsuccess.org.

This holiday season, help support the people, communities and environments of the world.