Friday, January 3, 2014

RAK Day 15: Finishing off 2013 the Right Way!

First things first: Happy New Year! I'm extremely excited for what 2014 has in store, especially since 2013 will be hard to top. We had an amazing past few weeks in New Port Richey celebrating the holidays with my family, but still have a few RAKs to update you on!

The last you heard from me I was about to tell you all about Christmas. However, before I do so, I should tell you all about the help we received from our "Holiday Elves" on our next RAK (RAK #41). A week or so before Christmas, I was chatting with my mom on the phone and she mentioned that she was going to the store to pick up a few toys to donate to the Metropolitan Ministries and their holiday tents. This is an annual thing, but the local paper was running an ad that the holiday tents are severely low on toys for boys and girls ages 4-9...in fact, there had only been four toys donated for that age range. As quoted by the Rev. Dan Campbell, director of Metropolitan Ministries in Pasco: "That won't last ten minutes. We're desperate for toys." Well, we thought that this was a perfect way to spread some cheer with the RAK funds and gave my mom $250 to spend to help fill the shelves for those ages. My mom and her friend, Darlene, found a ton of toys to donate and let us know that they were so appreciative of the gifts donated.

Our Holiday Elves spreading some cheer!
A bit about the Metropolitan Ministries: They serve hundreds of families year round with emergency food boxes, clothing, etc. as long as the people who are being served show proof of financial need. Most of the individuals or families they help are homeless or at risk of soon becoming homeless. The Outreach Center in Pasco is run by four employees and the rest are all volunteers. The mission of the organization is to meet the immediate needs of poor families and hungry people in the community through services that "alleviate suffering, promote dignity, and instill self-sufficiency."

We felt really good about that RAK, especially since my mom and Darlene were able to be involved! Including people who are close to us in our RAK-ing is one of the best parts of this experience, which is why the next RAK we committed was another fun one.

RAK #42: 
Through my Craigslist searching, I stumbled upon a retirement home that was looking for entertainment for their Christmas party. Well, being the musical theater child that I am, I contacted the poster, told them that I would be able to round up some friends and that we would love to perform some Christmas classics for them. I collaborated with my old friend Jesslyn, who is an amazing singer and also still lives in the New Port Richey area and asked if she wouldn't mind being the main contact for this gig since I was on the go. She was happy to help out and relayed all of the details to me for our performance. The night before, I was writing out the song list and printing out lyrics for the group numbers when Jesslyn came down with an illness and unfortunately was not able to attend. Luckily, my best friends Leigha and Jacob, as well as Dan and myself were still in peak physical condition. So, the next day we threw on some Santa, elf, and reindeer hats, warmed up our voices in the car and belted out some holiday tunes to the residents of the retirement home during their Christmas Party. They thoroughly enjoyed it -- especially Leigha's stellar soprano numbers...seriously, that girl has some pipes.

Afterwards, we all got ready for the annual Jameson Christmas Eve-Eve Party, which is pretty much a guaranteed blast. I saw a ton of people that I hadn't seen in a while, including my best friend Gabby, who I'd been away from for almost a year.
Gabby, my best friend since the third grade.
Christmas was a ton of fun! We opened gifts, drank mimosas and ate blueberry torte (Jameson family traditions), then got all dressed up and headed to the Mauro family household for dinner. The Mauros are basically my second family, so it was nice and felt pretty natural to spend Christmas with them.
Gettin' fancy for the holiday.
The days after Christmas were full of movie watching in PJs, hanging out with old friends, checking out the Dali Museum with Dan and the family, and trying to get back into running...but hitting a roadblock (kind of literally) when I decided that riding my childhood Razr scooter was a good idea. I hit a small pebble, flipped over the front of the scooter and gashed my knee open. Three stitches and a good amount of bruising later, I won't be running for a few more days.
My family and I outside the Dali Museum
Dan and I outside the Dali Museum
We're off to Miami this weekend, which is also my birthday weekend -- wahoo!-- and are enjoying a birthday dinner with my parents tomorrow night...after we repack the car.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and we will talk to you soon! We have some RAKs for Miami lined up and we will be sure to tell you all about them. We still have some RAKing to do on the road home via the East Coast, so if you feel it in your heart to contribute to our cause, you can do so right here.

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