Note to Future Self #15: Giving is not just for Christmas time.

And it’s not necessarily for Thanksgiving either. Giving is for anytime, anywhere, any day. So often I forget that life doesn’t revolve around me and all the wonderful volunteer opportunities on and through the SUNY New Paltz campus remind me that I am one very small part of a big picture. Given, I only did two services this past week, but hopefully I get to reach out more as the academic year progresses.

Condom Casino
Thursday, November 15th, from 8-11 PM
Location: Student Union MPR
Host: Residence Hall Student Association
Gifts Given: Two hours hosting a Blackjack table
Gifts Received: A purple Condom Casino shirt, a brown paper bag full of dental dams, and a hysterically good time.

You may be asking: What’s Condom Casino? Is it really as simple and awesome as it sounds?

Yes, yes it is. Casino chips are substituted for *drumroll please* condoms, and you gamble not for money, but for safe sex! A whole assortment of condoms, from Durex Tropical flavors to Magnums (I hate these; I am thoroughly convinced that no one needs a Magnum, since people can fit regular-sized condoms over their heads and blow them up to normal balloon sizes), can be won in a series of poker games, such as Blackjack and Texas Hold’em, or other friendly games, such as Connect 4 and Apples to Apples. Dental dams, lube, female condoms, and other means of sexual protection are also gambled just like condoms, but typical male condoms are in much, much greater use.

If you remember the picture from a few posts back (when I talked about my time in Hall Government and RHSA), the picture with the E-Board was after this very event just the year prior. So, coming in this time around as a mere volunteer rather than a host was kinda freaky, but I had little time to think about that once I got to host a Blackjack table… MY FAVORITE! Usually those tables are packed, since it’s probably the easiest casino game to comprehend, and during my first year I resorted to playing Apples to Apples all night since I could never find a spot at a table for the beloved poker game; it was still a lot of fun, but nevertheless, I wanted me some casino games. My experience as a dealer? Basically, I would be fired and blacklisted on my first night in Las Vegas. Half of the time I went over 21, and I started allowing players to keep their condoms even if they bust. But, hey, this isn’t Las Vegas, and we want kids to have safe sex, no?

Soup Kitchen
Friday, November 16th, from 3 – 6 pm
Location: Queens Galley in Kingston, NY
Hosts: NYPIRG and the location above
Gifts Given: Two able hands to carry food plates to hungry guests, smiles and cheers
Gifts Received: A plate of spaghetti, three slices of bread, and a warm heart.

The past few days, I was nearly falling asleep between noon and late-afternoon, so I was initially concerned that I could not stay awake and keep a bright smile on my face for three hours at a soup kitchen. I’m glad I took up the offer and just said “We’ll, I’m going for it.” A few people worked in the basement, arranging the stock of donated goods; I joined three others upstairs serving the soups, salads, entrees, and desserts to guests. As it was restaurant-styled, we would almost act like waiters and waitresses, asking if they wanted the Minestrone soup, the mixed greens salad with Italian dressing, the main course of Eggplant Parmigiana with a side of spaghetti, and a pound cake dessert, one after the other. When the soup ran out we skipped that part of the process; when more spaghetti needed to be cooked, we watched the crowd, slightly impatient ourselves while watching a few guests fidget.

I loved it. The beginning was hectic, as the whole place was crowded, each seat and table packed with guests, and I felt bad if I didn’t get to a table quick enough. But people were very appreciative, and each smile and thank you adds another small flame to my heart, a bright light shining against the setting Kingston sky. The group was also amazing; each time I hang out with NYPIRG people I am reminded of their continuous leadership, generosity, and will. Hopefully I will return to Queens Galley with these lovely people again.

Buzz Karaoke, 90s Style
Friday, November 16th, from 8 – 10 pm
Location: Student Union 100 South
Host: Residence Hall Student Association
Gifts Given: Entertaining singing and dancing? Leave me be!
Gifts in Return: a Mario-themed RHSA shirt. Swag. (Marissa won the Spongebob movie)

This is not necessarily a “giving” sort of occasion, but in light of some Friday night blues, Marissa, Rachel and I went to Buzz Karaoke to get a Mario-themed RHSA shirt by singing a karaoke song. The event wasn’t terribly busy, but since we knew these specific shirts would not be available at any other time this year, we wanted to snag them while we could. We also knew a bunch of people at the event, so it was a nice way to chill with some friends and enjoy the silliness of karaoke.

As it was 90s themed, people were randomly drawn into a 90s trivia game, which featured 20 questions about a variety of 90s TV shows. In the end, Marissa kicked butt and won first place, receiving the Spongebob Squarepants movie for her awesomeness. Fantastic job!

Below is Scudder Hall singing a familiar 90s song:

Absolutely silly, I shall say!

Tunnel of Oppression
Monday, November 19th, from 7 – 10 pm (set up at 6 pm)
Location: Student Union 62/63
Gifts Given: Eye-opening awareness to various forms of oppression
Gifts in Return: A t-shirt

Without spoiling much (since ya’ll either go here or are gonna come here, right, right?), students are guided through the Tunnel of Oppression in which scenes of oppression, from rape to homophobia to cyberbullying to suicide, are enacted right before their eyes. It is emotionally scaring, triggering, and stimulating, raising awareness about the signs and tragedy of oppressive actions. The first time I went through the tunnel was my freshman year; the next year I volunteered as an actor, and I acted again this year.

The shirt I received for Tunnel of Oppression

It is an incredibly uncomfortable volunteer role, as each actor has to witness and perform scenes of oppression again and again and again. However, between shifts, we succeed at lightening the mood and keeping our spirits high. We play social games and relay the incredible awkwardness of being oppressive. At the end of the night, we wrapped up on a positive note about our contribution to the cause and the eye-opening effect we had on the students who passed through the tunnel.

The event will also be taking place on Thursday, November 29th, from 4 – 7 PM.

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One thought on “Note to Future Self #15: Giving is not just for Christmas time.

  1. Pingback: Note to Future Self #26: Get outside your comfort zone. | NPBloggers