Among many of Albert Schweitzer’s notable sayings is, "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
Although I am sure that rings true for many, as I love all kinds of music and had a cat for 17 years, I would imagine that when it comes to finding a means of refuge from the miseries of life, whatever those may be, books would have to be among them.
I love books.
I love reading books, even though I don’t have as much time to read as many of them as I have in the past.
In fact, I can’t remember a Christmas when I didn’t find a few books under the tree — from Santa Claus, of course. Who else would place them there come Christmas morning?
Most of the ones I received were baseball books, including biographies of baseball’s superstars I grew up watching such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, George Brett, Nolan Ryan and numerous others. Reading the stories about their careers and lives provided me a break, an escape from school homework, waiting for warm spring days to return after the doldrums of gray Ohio winters, and later an escape from work or watching the news, which doesn’t seem to amount to a lot of good these days.
And in the small amount of Christmas shopping I have gotten done this holiday season (I can’t believe December already is here), I’ve purchased a number of books for family and friends because I know they find refuge in them, too.
After the cashier rings up my purchase, it’s nice to look down at the end of the counter and see a few friendly faces willing to wrap the books for a donation.
Not only does it save some time, but by getting books and other gifts wrapped in East Valley stores - and by dropping a couple of bucks in the jar at the table - you’re helping out a cause.
At Barnes and Noble Booksellers at Tempe Marketplace, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe or a few department stores, many of the people wrapping the books and gifts are volunteers from animal rescue groups or community service groups. Some of them rescue all cats and dogs; others specialize in breeds such as beagles and Boston Terriers, and even rabbits.
Yes, based in Mesa, there’s a Rascally Rabbit Rescue and Critter Haven of Arizona group that consists of about 50 volunteers, a testament that Easter isn’t the only time to help out Peter Cottontails or gerbils and hamsters who have strayed out into the world or been turned loose.
Deana Mae Nelson, the director of Rascally Rabbit Rescue and Critter Haven of Arizona, founded the group six years ago after she returned home from working on a graduate degree in geology at the University of Oklahoma.
She had rabbits as a kid. She knew people purchase rabbits as pets, but don’t realize the great care and time it takes to keep them healthy. Her group has been wrapping books and gifts purchased atBarnes and Noble for several years.
Like many of the organizations, Rascally Rabbit has a goal in mind. They want to raise $400 to help pay some medical bills for the rabbits they have, as well as have the animals spayed or neutered. Members will be at Barnes and Noble wrapping books and gifts purchased in the store this month, including 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Dec. 23.
Right now, the group has eight rabbits in foster care. But members hope to put them up for adoption at $75 apiece ($120 for two) once the prospective owners are screened and approved.
"We’re a small rescue group, but we do the best we can," said Nelson, who works as a reservation agent and group room coordinator at Scottsdale’s Four Seasons Resort and has a pet rabbits herself — one named Stormtrooper and two fosters, Joey and Cinnamon. "We have two foster homes and a third one on the way, which will be in Mesa. We always need people to help."
Rascally Rabbit, which can be reached through its website at www.rascallyrabbitrescue.org or on its Facebook page, also collects used ink or laster printer cartilages and old cell phones to sell to recyclers to raise funds for animal dental work, check-ups and emergency care.
The rabbits can live about 10 years, and in some cases longer when properly cared for.
"Rabbits are high maintenance," Nelson said. "A lot of people, especially children, don’t know how fragile they really are. They are living beings and not something that can be thrown out."
After all, like music, cats, dogs and books, rabbits can be included among the refuge some people seek from the miseries of life.
So, as customers have their books or gifts wrapped and give donations, they can know they are helping animals have a merry Christmas and helping to provide them refuge from the miseries of life.
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