From Childhood Lessons to Thanksgiving Traditions: My Journey in Giving Back
This year, StringCan introduced Volunteer Time Off (VTO). Each team member was granted eight hours of VTO, an opportunity to make a meaningful philanthropic impact in our communities. This initiative not only aligns with our agency's core values but also represents our collective commitment to social responsibility.
My journey into volunteering began with my family, who instilled in me the significance of community and the transformative power of giving. We would spend countless hours volunteering at food banks and soup kitchens in Detroit around the holiday season. But there's one memory from my childhood that still warms my heart and continues to shape my perspective on philanthropy.
As a wide-eyed 6 or 7-year-old, I found myself serving hot meals to families in need one December day. After the meal, the room buzzed with excitement as Santa Claus made a surprise appearance, delivering gifts to eager children. While the adults cleaned up, I was drawn to play with the other kids, and it was at that moment I had a profound realization.
For many of them, the present they received that day might be the only one they'd unwrap during the holiday season. This poignant insight reshaped my understanding of the world and ignited a lifelong passion for volunteering.
Volunteering wasn't just an act of kindness; it became a wellspring of joy, a lesson in humility, and a reminder to be grateful for life's blessings, no matter the season. It strengthened my belief in the power of community and collective action, demonstrating how a shared purpose could create positive change.
In this vein, I'd like to share my recent experience this past Thanksgiving with an extraordinary non-profit organization in Chicago.
For the fourth consecutive year, my partner Kyle and I teamed up with Food for Friends to serve 150 families of students at Calmeca Academy, a remarkable school on Chicago's Southwest side. This year it was even more special as we were able to help out 2 additional schools - 350 more families!
Our dedicated team of 28 volunteers came together to pack 500 blue bags, each filled to the brim with ingredients for a hearty Thanksgiving feast. From stuffing and mashed potatoes to vegetables, rice, beans, yams, gravy, brownies, jello, and cookies, every bag carried the promise of a warm and joyous holiday meal. Each family also received a frozen turkey.
It was a powerful reminder that even small acts of kindness can wield tremendous influence. Volunteering isn't solely about what we provide; it's about the invaluable experiences we gain and the profound joy that comes from making a difference.
Volunteering has always been my way of giving back, of spreading hope, and of creating positive change in the lives of those less fortunate. It's a tradition deeply ingrained in my values and one that I cherish sharing with my StringCan family. Together, we are not just an agency; we are a community that believes in the power of making a difference and embodies the spirit of giving back.