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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
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How You Can Make a Difference

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwire) -- 01/17/13 -- (Family Features) It's not uncommon for people to feel they can't really impact the larger social issues of the day; that the problems are too big for one person to make a difference. But that isn't true. You can be a part of something greater and have a positive impact on your community when you volunteer.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that life's most persistent question is, "What are you doing for others?" In his sermon, "On Being a Good Neighbor," published in the book "Gift of Love: Sermons from 'Strength to Love' and Other Preachings," (Beacon Press 2012), King said that the Good Samaritan was good "because he made concern for others the first law of his life," and challenged his people to serve others in difficult life situations.

Not only does volunteering benefit others, but it makes you feel good, both mentally and physically, according to the 2010 United Healthcare/VolunteerMatch "Do Good. Live Well." survey.

Tips for Becoming a Volunteer

  • Evaluate what you have to offer. Think about what skills you have that could be used to help others. Organization and communication skills, a green thumb, crafting or musical abilities, even being a good listener -- they can all be valuable resources to local organizations.
  • Find causes and issues that you care about. If your time and efforts are spent in an area of passion, rather than just obligation, you're more likely to enjoy the work and stick with it longer.
  • Check out the organization. Request an interview, visit the site and talk to other volunteers. You need to make sure that the organization and the volunteer duties are a good fit for you.

Ways You Can Serve
There are several national days of service -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (www.mlkday.gov), 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance (www.911day.org), and Global Youth Service Day (www.gysd.org). But you don't have to wait for a special day. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Local food banks
  • Clothing drives
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Reading with children
  • Book drives
  • Community gardens
  • Helping military families
  • Tutoring

You can look for other ideas and opportunities through your local community organizations, schools, and houses of worship.

You can make a difference. If you're still not sure, take some inspiration from one of Dr. King's prayers, "Lord, help me to accept my tools. However dull they are, help me to accept them. And then Lord, after I have accepted my tools, then help me to set out and do what I can do with my tools."

You can find more inspiration from Dr. King in collections of his writings at www.thekinglegacy.org.

About Family Features Editorial Syndicate
This and other food and lifestyle content can be found at www.editors.familyfeatures.com. Family Features is a leading provider of free food and lifestyle content for use in print and online publications. Register with no obligation to access a variety of formatted and unformatted features, accompanying photos, and automatically updating Web content solutions.

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