Don't get me wrong. I love chocolate and I delight in roses. Valentine's Day is as good an excuse as any to sip some wine together and say I love you. And every restaurant in town is offering romantic Valentine's Day specials.

But why not also do something truly LOVEly this year, in addition to sending heart-embalzoned cards?

My first pick: the Family Foster Fair. Too many children in our community are in desperate need of a temporary home and some TLC. Learn how easy it is to become a foster parent on Saturday, February 13 at Canisius College, Now that's love.

Or grab some glitter and construction paper and create a Heart Bomb or two. Here's how. Then choose your favorite neglected architectural treasures and affix your Valentine's expression of love. So cool that Heart Bombs were invented right here by Buffalo's Young Preservationists and are now a nation-wide phenomena.

Enjoy a "Tanzania Twist" smoothie on Galentine's Day (February 13) at Ashker's on Elmwood to support education for girls around the globe. Proceeds from the limited edition smoothie support the Girls Education Collaborative. Bonus: while there, buy your honey some locally-produced artisan soap by Zandra, one of Buffalo's youngest entrepreneurs. Win-win.

Make it a family affair. Attend Hunter's Day of Hope and Prayer for Children at the Ralph for some free, family-friendly fun - music, dancing, games, face painting, food, and more, and take a moment to pray for all children.

Or just do something hands-on, DIY together. Think All You Need is Love at Thin Ice on Elmwood or even a Mother-Daughter Valentine's Belly Buddies Class. Really.

If you're dead set on having a fancy night out, head to An Evening of Hope at Asbury Hall for hors d'oeuvres, wine and beer tasting, and live music. You'll be raising awareness of and funds for Lymphangioleiomiomatosis and the LAM Foundation. Another win-win.

The options are endless. And that's for an invented holiday.

That's right. Although there have actually been three St. Valentines, not one of them has anything to do with this Hallmark holiday. Esther Howland made the first mass-produced valentines in the U.S. in the late 1840s in Worcester, Mass, but she copied the concept from the UK. The non-event seems to have been sparked by none other than Geoffrey Chaucer, who composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia In 1381, giving February 14 its first romantic aura. By the 18th-century, lovers in England began giving flowers and candy and sending cards, known as "valentines." They became so popular in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. And crossed the pond, of course.

Hallmark's British forebears.

Perhaps adding a bit of substance to this particular holiday is not a bad idea.