It is finally Fall! If you live in the Greater Houston area, I hope you are enjoying the cooler weather that recently moved in as much as I am. Bring on the fuzzy socks and hot chocolate! To celebrate the temperature drop, here is a list of family-friendly ways to enjoy Fall while also giving back.

Support Local Farmers and Create a Healthy Meal

The Slow Food Movement has taken off all over the world. For the unfamiliar, the Slow Food Movement strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem rather than eating food that has been sourced from very far away, frozen, and shipped to the store. Houston is fortunate enough to have several great farmers markets in our area; one of my favorites is Sweet Magnolia Pickens. I can’t wait for the next time I can head over with my little guy to prepare to make this yummy, Fall-inspired meal! This is a great way to support our local farmers, create a healthy meal for your family, and to enjoy all the delicious produce Fall offers.

Clean House for Good

Before you know it, the holidays will be upon us. For our family, that means a boatload of toys and clothes for my 5 year-old. Plus, with the upcoming arrival of my second son on or around Christmas Day, I know there will be tons of toys and clothes for him, too! To lighten the load and keep my house under control, my plan is to purge as much stuff as possible and give to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Just because we don’t need it anymore doesn’t mean someone else can’t use it. It’ll be great to have the extra space and this is one of the easiest ways to give back! Here’s a list of local Goodwill locations and Salvation Army drop-off spots.

Visit Dewberry Farm

Now through November 11, there are more than 22 different Fall-themed weekend activities at Dewberry Farm, including pig races, the Punkin Holler, and Corn Cannons! We make the trip out to Brookshire every year because it is so much fun for our family. My son picks a pumpkin, I get a little Christmas shopping done in the general store and my husband runs through the corn maze.  But did you know that the owners of Dewberry Farm are huge supporters of giving back to the community? They’ve gotten really creative and, in the spirit of it being an election year, the 2012 Dewberry Farm corn maze features Uncle Sam and his “You Can Vote!” message. Bring one can of food to vote for your favorite “can”didate and receive a $1 off token to be used anywhere on the Farm. Their goal is to collect 25,000 cans of food to help stock local food banks. In November, the Farm will announce the number of cans raised and the official winner of the Republican and Democrat “corn and beans” face-off. What a fun and easy way to give back and to get your kids involved!

Second Annual iWalk for Animals

Those of you with fur babies are going to love this one! At sundown on Sunday, November 11, the Houston SPCA encourages people to participate in the “walk where you are” iWalk for Animals. In the time between now and then, participants can raise money for the SPCA to give orphaned, abused and neglected animals a second chance at life. Top fundraisers are awarded prizes and participants who raise over $100 receive a limited edition iWalk t-shirt. Helping animals in need, spending a little quality time with my pups and my family, and a quick and easy way to get in a little exercise all wrapped up in one easy way to give back? Sign me up!

Caring for Kids 

Many times we wait until the end of the year to make a resolution to start giving back on a regular basis. Why not start a little earlier by signing up to volunteer at Texas Children’s Hospital and spend a little time with kiddos who are always grateful to see a smiling face? There are time and frequency requirements asked of you but I think we all know that giving back at a place like this will only make your days brighter. Right now is the perfect time to begin volunteering with these special kids. After all, Halloween is just around the corner and I’m sure they have something fun planned!

Shopping for Soldiers

As you begin your holiday shopping this year, keep an eye out for a few extra items to create a care package for a soldier stationed overseas. Any Soldier is a great organization that wants all of our brave soldiers serving overseas to know how much those back home care for them; especially those soldiers who may not receive many letters or packages. Check out their website for more information such as what to send and how to send it.

So Good It’s Scary!

How’s this for cool? The top charity haunted house in the world, Hangman’s Haunted Houseis located in Texas! Admittedly, it’s a bit of drive since it’s located down in Fort Worth but it looks so cool I think it would be worth taking a mini vacation to see what all the fuss is about. Besides the Haunted House, there are lots of other activities such as live music, karaoke, laser activities, and food! Now in its 24th year of operation, Hangman’s Haunted House has donated over $1.7 million to local charities. So go get frightened in the name of charity!

Building A Better Future for Families in Need

Houston Habitat for Humanity can always use extra hands to help them with building homes and helping with construction projects for underprivileged Houstonians. In fact, they rely on volunteers to get their work done! Their website’s Volunteer page, which includes a calendar, is super handy for knowing what to expect when you volunteer with them.

What is Fall Without Football?

I recently came across an event called Taste of the Texans that I think any foodie football fan would love to attend! The event will be held on Monday, November 5 at the Verizon West Club and includes food and wine tastings from more than 25 local chefs and restaurants. Texans players, Ambassadors, and Cheerleaders will be on-hand signing autographs and taking photos. It is pricy at $250/ticket but all proceeds will benefit the Houston Texans FoundationHouston Food Bank, and The Methodist Hospital.

Wind Down With Wine

What better way to end a busy week than a good glass of wine? On November 9th from 7-11 pm, the Cinco Ranch Rotary will host the Katy Wine Festival at The Tuscany Villa in Katy. At this annual charity event, the Cinco Ranch Rotary will celebrate wines from around Texas and all parts of the world. The event will also feature light bites from several Katy and West Houston eateries, educational workshops, live musical entertainment by Chris Austin Martiniez, and an exciting silent and live auction. Sip (responsibly) and know that proceeds from the event directly benefit The Brookwood Community, a Christian-based educational, residential, and entrepreneurial community for adults with functional disabilities.

 

What other fun-filled Fall activities are going on this year? What are your plans to celebrate the changing of the seasons? Let us know so we can share with others! Leave your comments here, on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.