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Resolve To Get Involved

Written by  December 31, 2003

Have you ever wanted to get involved and make a difference, yet didn’t know where to start? If you think the only way to help is to volunteer, I have some exciting news for you! Listed below are some other ways that you can help raise awareness, funds or wish list items for your favorite charity:

Take up a collection at your work by asking for donations of canned food, toys, or cleaning supplies.
Host a community yard sale.
Host a bake sale at your church and sell cakes, pies and cookies.
In lieu of gifts for your birthday or other holidays, have loved ones purchase wish list items or make a contribution in your honor.

However, I believe volunteering teaches values such as compassion, patience, and respect for others. It can also expose you to different racial or economic backgrounds and break down stereotypes.

Volunteering as a family is a great way to spend time together and work toward a common goal. Family volunteering strengthens families by developing a sense of teamwork and a chance to see each other in a new light. Make the most of your experience when selecting your volunteer project; include the entire family in the decision. Talk about what volunteer activities interest the family and find something everyone can understand. Find jobs where children are given important tasks – using skills they have or can learn. They need to do things where they can see the results, such as painting a wall.

Start conservatively and be realistic about your time. Families may want to try a variety of one-time projects before settling on one they can commit to long-term. Afterward, take time to talk about the project. Your children will most likely ask you questions about the people they are helping, which gives you a chance to discuss your values and philosophy of service. By serving others, your children will learn about kindness, tolerance, and good citizenship. Try to make service part of your family’s routine all year long.

Near and dear to my heart are animals in shelters looking for loving homes. If you like to work closely with animals, you can use your time and talents to help in many ways:

Walking dogs
Cleaning kennels
Grooming to prepare for adoption
Follow-up calls
Thank you notes
Mobile adoptions
Foster home

Animals require the basics of food, water, shelter, veterinary care and companionship. However, many family dogs are forced to live outside most of the time, even during the cold winter months. If a dog must be kept outside, they should be kept within a fence or other safe enclosure and not tied up. Tied-out dogs may become entangled and not be able to reach their food, water or shelter. I encourage you to do everything possible to help those families provide these basics, especially shelter. Winter safety tips and doghouse plans are provided below:

A dry, draft-free doghouse (preferably insulated) large enough to allow the dog to sit, turn around and lay down, but small enough to hold in body heat.
The roof should be slanted so snow won’t collect.
The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar chips or straw.
The doorway should face away from the wind and have burlap or heavy plastic fastened at the top to cover the entrance.
Increase food by 25 percent as dogs burn more energy to produce more body heat to keep warm.
Fresh drinkable water must be provided twice a day. Check regularly to make sure it is not frozen.
Keep snow from piling too high next to the fence. A packed snowdrift provides a boost for dogs to jump over the fence and escape.

Story by Margaret Liggett