Want to improve your world?
As a noun it describes the people who make the world go around. It’s the dozens who keep the Pioneer Museum in Hot Springs, S.D., and its grounds in such good order. They are the veteran’s groups and auxiliaries such as the American Legion, who do so much to assist the individuals who have served and kept our country free. The Shriners make sure that disabled children get proper health care. The Lions work so hard on assisting those who need glasses or have difficulties with their sight. The individuals — usually your neighbors — who fill the fire department, search and rescue and the ambulance crews — that leave their jobs or their family meals in order to help others. The Sunday school teachers and school helpers, the people in the soup kitchens and those serving on disasters with the Red Cross. The gentle folks who transport Meals on Wheels to shut-ins provide time as well as transportation to help. Can you imagine a world without such generous people?
Volunteer. It’s the verb that gives us the impetus to get up out of our chairs and help someone else. Not necessarily someone less fortunate financially, just a person that needs a little extra boost. I will never forget that when my husband was deployed for Desert Storm and our sons were young, a man who regularly hunted on our place took our boys along with him on the hunts. Perhaps it was being in the military himself that helped him think of it — and act on it — or maybe he’s just the kind of guy who would do so anyway. In additon, he had his own son who was just between our sons, age-wise. It was nice of him to share his dad even though their father-son time was limited. The dad also taught the boys that even small gestures can mean a lot.
If you know of a soldier who is deployed, overseas or stateside, perhaps you could think of a way to help out. Looking ahead, offer to take the children Christmas shopping for the parent who is at home, get the family a Christmas tree and set it up. (If you go to the forest to cut it, perhaps they would like to go along.) If they don’t already have a home church, invite them to go with you so they will feel at ease in an unfamiliar church. Keep the kids for half a day; a few hours off from regular duties is refreshing. Include the family in one of your meals or projects. If you can afford it and your friend or neighbor is amenable to the idea, pay for a professional housecleaner to come in for one day. What a lift that would be especially in January or February when the doldrums can set in! The amazing thing is the giver as well as the recipient gets that lift.
We see volunteerism in action perhaps around Christmas more than any other time of year, yet it goes on throughout the year, especially in South Dakota. ❖
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