Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish birthday or new year of the trees, is a really fun and lightweight holiday, celebrated mostly by schoolchildren. As a child, this was one of my favorite holidays. I loved planting trees and somehow felt very much at home with this simple way to participate in tikkun olam (healing the world).
This is by way of being an advance notice, a leg up, if you will.
At the start of the upcoming school year, the Jewish Federation will embark on a new venture, Koreh L.A., the Los Angeles Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Its staff is busy (today) setting in place a cadre of volunteers who will work with third-graders in Los Angeles' public schools. The goal is simple: try to help improve reading ability -- literacy is the formal phrase -- by concentrating one-on-one with individual schoolchildren. That's one volunteer assigned to work with one specific child one hour each week for the duration of the school year. Its virtue to me is that this is direct, purposive and personal; and, not to be underestimated, it is also modest in scope.