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Volunteerism: Opportunities May be Closer Than They Appear #SimplyHealthy

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The other day my daughter came home from school upset. The snack that I had been sending her to school with kept disappearing from her cubby and she was frustrated with what could be happening to it. Why would someone be taking her food? I grabbed my phone in my hand and immediately dialed up my mother to tell her my frustrations. I was hoping to get her advice on the matter before I started to over react. This was something I always did when I had a problem, call her AND over react. My mother always somehow has the best reasoning skills. When my mom answered the phone, I began to tell her about how I thought someone might be stealing her snack at school and asked her what she thought I could do about it. This time however, her good reasoning stopped me right in my tracks and could you believe that she did it with only three little words. “Maybe they’re hungry”. Geesh, I hadn’t thought of that. I broke down into tears. How foolish of me to jump right into the assumption that whoever was doing this was just being spiteful. This time of year everyone is talking about volunteerism and my kids and I are always happy to drop a few bucks in kettle as we walked by or donate our time to organizations in need of help, but now I was faced with a need right in front of me and I couldn’t believe that I was absolutely oblivious to it until now.

I know that my family doesn’t have a ton of money to donate, but I do know that when your heart is in the right place anyone can make a difference. I phoned my daughter’s teacher and without speaking any names, I asked if she had noticed any kids in the class who were going without a snack. She confirmed my intuitions. Some of the kids were hungry and this was an ongoing problem. My heart sank. Well, at least now that I knew the problem, I knew that I could do something to help it.

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I packed my kids up in the car and we headed off to our local Sam’s Club. I chose to go here because I wanted to be able to get the most product that we could for our money so that we could make the biggest difference we could make for some of the hungry kids in our community.

When we arrived at Sam’s Club, my kids and I found several big boxes of individually wrapped snacks that we could deliver to her school so they could easily be handed out to the kids in her class as they needed them. We decided on a few of our favorite snacks and placed them into our cart. After grabbing several large boxes, I calculated up our spending thus far and subtracted it from the budget that we set for the trip. I couldn’t believe it but we still had some money left over! We decided that with our leftover money we could also pick up a few other supplies for the classroom that would help the teacher out as well. Did you know that in some school districts the teachers need to use their own money to buy the supplies needed for their classrooms? Sad, isn’t it? We decided right then as a family that anything we could do to help sponsor this class and get them into a positive place for the year, we wanted to do it!

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Off we headed a few aisles over into the office supplies. Here we were able to pick up pencils, file folders, construction paper and hand sanitizer with what was left of our budget. We considered all of these things which a classroom full of kids could go through rather quickly and also things which would be beneficial to not only the teacher but to the students as well.

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Looking at our cart, I couldn’t believe how much we were able to get for our small budget of only $40. I smiled as I imagined what a difference our donation was going to make for this classroom and how thankful I was to have this opportunity to help. Thinking back on it now, when this whole situation started my stress levels were building. However, I remember that as my kids and I walked through the aisles, picking out what we thought would be most helpful, my heart grew, my stress floated away and on my face you could find a great big smile. Did you know that according to Healthy Living Made Simple online magazine, volunteering is a great way to beat stress, depression and anxiety? I didn’t either, but after this situation, I believe it to be true. I guess the old saying is correct, “For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi.

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I found Sam’s Club to be an amazing resource for buying the supplies we needed to help in this situation and the Healthy Living Made Simple magazine provided by Sam’s Club to be a great resource for learning more about volunteerism. If you are looking for ways that your family or yourself can give back to your community and feel healthier because of it, check out Healthy Living Made Simply’s article, Volunteering: A Gift to Yourselfonline or in the app store. Here you will find useful information delivered right to your computer , I-Pad or I-Phone on a bi-monthly schedule. You can also use the app to locate a Sam’s Club nearest you.

If this situation has taught me anything, it is that I don’t need to go very far away from home to find an opportunity to give back. You can easily find ways to give back to your community right in your very own backyard. Now I am not saying that everyone should run out and buy food and deliver it to the schools, because they probably wouldn’t accept it. What I am saying is that sometimes just taking a step back and looking at a problem in a different light can open your eyes to a hidden opportunity just waiting for someone to help.

Need help finding an organization or charity to volunteer with? Check out VolunteerMatch.org and search through local opportunities that are waiting for you to help, many of them right in your very own backyard.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another” – Charles Dickens