By now you're aware that's it's a pretty contentious election year in Central Florida – and everywhere else, too. Chances are, all of those political mailers and television ads and debates have jammed their way so far into your nightmares that you've got little room left to think about getting involved in anything meaningful in the community. But the Obama-Romney purpling of all things red and blue won't last forever, and there are plenty of ways to be engaged with your world that don't involve ballot boxes and "I Voted" stickers. Ruminate on some issues challenging your fellow man – the global economy, education, the environment – then find an event in the list below that corresponds with the one that moves you most. Then, snap out of it and get out and vote. It matters, you know, even if you're sick of hearing about it.
CoffeeTalk With Winter Park Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel Meet with the commissioner in an informal environment and network with other residents. 8 am Thursday; Winter Park Welcome Center and Chamber of Commerce, 151 W. Lyman Ave., Winter Park; free; 407-599-3428; winterpark.org.
Bear Gully Lake Restoration Project Volunteer with Seminole County Lake Management Program biologists to remove invasive plants around the lake. 9 am-12:30 pm Saturday; 4305 Bear Gully Road, 4305 Bear Gully Road, Winter Park; free, to register email [email protected]inolecountyfl.gov; 407-665-2457.
National Public Lands Day 2012 Get outside for a day in the park and visit an animal farm, play beach tennis and sand volleyball, and do some fishing, biking and hiking. 8 am-7 pm Saturday; Bill Frederick Park, 3401 S. Hiawassee Road; free; 407-246-4486; cityoforlando.net/billfrederick.
Sept. 29-Sept. 30
Pack the Park Volunteer to help package meals for hungry children. 8:15 am-6 pm Saturday-Sunday; Orlando Festival Park, East Robinson Street and North Primrose Drive; $12 donation; 888-891-6447.
Light Up the Night UCF Victim Services hosts support and community resource event to raise awareness and promote involvement with victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. 6-8 pm Monday; UCF Student Union, Pegasus Ballroom; free; 407-823-6332.
Sustainable Development for 3 Billion Open forum featuring former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of India, author of Target 3 Billion, discussing the empowerment of residents of the world's rural and underdeveloped regions. 10 am Tuesday; UCF Student Union, Pegasus Ballroom; free; 407-823-0688; ucfglobalperspectives.org.
Corruption, Political Violence and Prospects in the Global Economy UCF Global Perspectives hosts an open forum on an issue seemingly ripped from the current headlines. 7-9 pm Thursday; Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park; free; 407-823-0688;
Tales & Tails Gala Fundraising event with featured guest Julie Scardina, animal ambassador for SeaWorld, with silent and live auctions, animal encounters and a plated dinner to raise money for Canine Companions for Independence. 6-10 pm Saturday; Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Blvd.; $250; 407-522-3349; cci.org/talesandtailsgala.
India: Old Words, New World UCF Global Perspectives hosts an open forum featuring Ananya Vajpeyi. 3 pm Tuesday; UCF Student Union, Cape Florida Ballroom; free; 407-823-0688; ucfglobalperspectives.org..
Oct. 9, Nov. 13
Orange County Young Republicans Meeting Get all worked up for the election one month, then figure out what went wrong (or right) the next! 6 pm Tuesday; Gray Robinson, P.A., 301 E. Pine St.; free; ocrec.org.
Urban and Regional Planning Distinguished Lecture Professor Catherine L. Ross from the Georgia Institute for Technology discusses healthy community planning. 6:30 pm Thursday; Florida Hospital - Orlando, 601 E. Rollins St.; free; 407-823-3525.
Shaken & Stirred Casino night fundraiser with Texas hold 'em and blackjack games, gourmet food and cocktails, and a live auction to benefit New Hope for Kids. 7 pm Friday; Orlando Mini dealership, 350 S. Lake Destiny Road; $65; 407-331-3059;
Greater Maitland 5K Eighth annual fundraising run/walk benefits local charities. 7:30 am Saturday; Orangewood Presbyterian Church, 1300 W. Maitland Blvd., Matland; $20-$25; 407-539-1500; fleetfeetorlando.com/races/greater-maitland-5k.
Lake Jesup Restoration Project Volunteer alongside biologists to plant eelgrass along the lake's shoreline. 9 am-noon Saturday; Lake Jesup Park, 5951 S. Sanford Ave., Sanford; free, to register email [email protected]; 407-665-2457.
Orlando Walk for Farm Animals Join Farm Sanctuary for a fundraising walk in support of animal rights. 10 am Saturday; Langford Park, 1808 E. Central Blvd.; donations accepted; 407-968-2400; walkforfarmanimals.org.
Sierra Club Hike and Swim Outing Join the Central Florida chapter for a day outdoors at Kelly Park. 3 pm Saturday; Kelly Park, 400 E. Kelly Park Road, Apopka; $5; 407-481-4398; facebook.com/centralflsierraclub.The Center for Independent Living Stroll N' Roll Fundraising walk to benefit people with disabilities living in Central Florida. 8 am Saturday; Harbor Park, 4990 New Broad St.; donations accepted; 407-623-1070; kintera.org.
Evening of Valor 11th annual banquet fundraiser for Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando with a plated dinner, cocktails and a large-scale silent auction. 5-9 pm Sunday; Westin Lake Mary Hotel, 2974 International Parkway, Lake Mary; $175 includes dinner and one free drink; 407-644-7593; jfsorlando.org.
UpStanders Family Day Anti-bullying event with live music, info tables, kids activities and a proclamation by Commissioner Patty Sheehan. Noon-3 pm Sunday; Lake Eola Park, North Rosalind Avenue and East Washington Street; free; 407-628-0555;
Oct. 15, Nov. 19
Orange County Democratic Executive Committee Meeting All registered Democrats in Orange County are welcome to attend, observe and learn more about the organization. 7 pm Monday; IBEW Union Hall, 820 Virginia Ave.; free; orangefldemocrats.com.
CoffeeTalk With Winter Park Commissioner Carolyn Cooper Meet with the commissioner in an informal setting and network. 8 am Thursday; Winter Park Welcome Center and Chamber of Commerce, 151 W. Lyman Ave., Winter Park; free; 407-599-3428;
Pretty in Pink: Party With a Purpose Sample dishes and cocktails from six restaurants, with live music by Michael Andrew & Swingerhead, a prize drawing and more to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. 6-9 pm Thursday; Baldwin Park, New Broad Street and Jake Street; $25-$35; prettypink2012.eventbrite.com.
Oct. 18, Nov. 15
Green Drinks Meet others looking to make Orlando a more sustainable city. Green clothing optional! 7 pm Thursday; Dandelion Communitea Cafe, 618 N. Thornton Ave.; free; 407-362-1864; dandelioncommunitea.com.
5th Anniversary of Orlando Rescue & Restore Coalition Celebration of anti-human trafficking group organized to identify, rescue and restore the rights of victims. 5:30 pm Thursday, Orlando City Hall Rotunda, 400 S. Orange Ave.; free, orlandorrc.com.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K fundraising walk to benefit the American Cancer Society. 9 am Saturday; Lake Eola Park, 195 N. Rosalind Ave.; donations accepted; 407-843-8680; main.acsevents.org.
Wiggle Waggle Walk Fundraising walk around the lake to benefit SPCA of Central Florida with games, a costume contest and pet-related vendors. Frankenweenie jokes not allowed. 9 am Saturday; Cranes Roost Park, 274 Cranes Roost Blvd., Altamonte Springs; donations accepted; 407-571-8863; uptownaltamonte.com.
The Right of Education: A Solution to Global Problems Though presently known as a prominent human rights activist – his humanitarian work now spans two decades with groups like Amnesty International, Global Rights and the United Nations – Chris Mburu was once just a struggling student in Kenya hoping for a decent education. Mburu's plight, and eventual success, was paid forward in the 2010 documentary, A Small Act, which detailed his search for the Swedish benefactor who made his rise through primary school, the University of Nairobi and eventually Harvard Law School possible. Mburu duly started a scholarship of his own in order to ensure that those coming up behind him might also be able to fight the good fight and affect change in the way that he now does. Open forum sponsored by UCF Global Perspectives. 3 pm Thursday; UCF Student Union, Cape Florida Ballroom; free; 407-823-0688; ucfglobalperspectives.org.
Oct. 25, Nov. 22
Orange County Republican Executive Committee Meeting 7 pm Thursday; Marks Street Senior Recreation Complex, 99 E. Marks St.; free; ocrec.org.
Oct. 26-Oct. 28
GiveCamp.Orlando Local tech professionals donate their time and services for local charities including Adult Literacy League, Getaboard, Grace Medical Home and others. 5-11 pm Friday, 8 am-11 pm Saturday, 8 am-5 pm Sunday; Full Sail, 3300 University Blvd., Winter Park; free; 321-206-6689; givecamporlando.org.
Partnership Walk Orlando Partnership in Action sponsors a fundraising walk to end global poverty, with appearances by local notables. 10 am Sunday; Lake Eola Park, East Central Boulevard and North Eola Drive; donations accepted;
Reaching Out to Touch the World Humanitarian author of The Third Wave, Alison Thompson, visits UCF as part of its annual Women and Leadership Forum to discuss her experiences, including disaster relief at Ground Zero to aid in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. 3 pm Tuesday; free; UCF Student Union, Cape Florida Ballroom; free; 407-823-0688; ucfglobalperspectives.org.
A Walk Across the Sun: Abolishing Modern Slavery Lawyer and author Corban Addison tackles the issue of human trafficking; free; 3 pm Thursday; UCF Student Union, Cape Florida Ballroom; free; 407-823-0688; ucfglobalperspectives.org.
Florida Water Festival Learn about public water use with games, live entertainment and vendors around the lake. 10 am-2 pm Saturday; Cranes Roost Park, 274 Cranes Roost Blvd., Altamonte Springs; free; 407-571-8863;
Paws for Peace Walk Pet-and-owner fundraising walk with vendors, live music and a dog agility show to raise money for domestic violence shelter Harbor House. 9 am Saturday; Blue Jacket Park, 2501 General Rees Ave.; donations accepted; 407-886-2244; harborhousefl.com.
Election Day In what's threatening to be the longest ballot ever known to man – or at least Florida – registered voters will wiggle and giggle around in long queues hoping to be the one with the golden ticket to change the world! Seriously, though, we don't have much to say about your most sacred duty as an American citizen, except that you should probably honor it, especially given that – beyond the presidential stakes – the downticket items will most certainly shape the way your lives are lived on a daily basis. Don't worry about how long it takes you to parse the dense language of the amendments (it's designed by your legislature to confuse you, silly); also, if you're picking this up when you should be, take a little time to explore the positions of the legislative, senate and congressional candidates you've never heard of. You think your life is bad now? Just imagine what ignorance could bring. Vote.
Glo.Run.Wish 5K Hundreds of participants run 3.3 miles around UCF campus to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with live entertainment, free food and beverages. 7-10 pm Friday; University of Central Florida, Memory Mall, 4000 Central Florida Blvd.; $35; 407-622-4673; wishcentral.org.
2012 Orlando Veterans Day Parade The city honors local vets with marching bands, more than 150 Central Florida veterans' organizations, floats and more. 11 am Saturday; Downtown Orlando, North Orange Avenue and East Robinson Street; free;
The Journey Home Breakfast Learn more about the programs of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. 7:30 am Tuesday; Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Drive; free, donations accepted; 407-426-1256; centralfloridahomeless.org.
International Education Week Breakfast: Running with the Bulls UCF Global Perspectives presents Valerie Hemingway. 8:30-10:30 am Tuesday; University of Central Florida, Student Union, 4000 Central Florida Blvd.; call for details; 407-823-0688;
Continuing the Legacy: Civil Rights Struggles in the 21st Century It's an unbelievably long shadow to live beneath, but as the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr., the United States' singularly most important civil rights leader, Martin Luther King III has stepped it up in recent years by tackling the difficult racial and economic issues plaguing our times. An outspoken proponent of largely liberal causes, such as union rights and rights for the poor, King took a turn toward Florida earlier this year in protest of mandatory minimum prison sentences, especially in the face of uneven enforcement of the state's "stand your ground" laws. The Winter Park Institute welcomes the leader for a discussion on keeping his father's dream alive in real time. 7:30 pm Thursday; Rollins College, Knowles Memorial Chapel, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park; free; 407-691-1995; rollins.edu/wpi.
CoffeeTalk with Winter Park Commissioner Tom
McMacken Meet-and-greet with the commissioner and networking with residents of Winter Park. 8 am Thursday; Winter Park Welcome Center and Chamber of Commerce, 151 W. Lyman Ave., Winter Park; free; 407-599-3428; winterpark.org.
Florida Blue Florida Classic Career Expo and Diversity Job Fair Meet potential employers, attend educational seminars, learn interviewing and résumé building skills and more. 11 am Friday; Amway Center, 400 W. Church St.; free; 407-645-4224; orlandojobs.com/diversity/index.htm.