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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Are You Doing for Others?

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?"

 -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We all have a duty to do good.

-- Pope Francis

I love these quotes, which are wonderful reminders of the importance of doing good.

I do a fair amount of volunteer work now that I am retired. The causes closest to my heart are helping to feed the hungry and being a voice for wolves. I volunteer once a week at a local food pantry, preparing and packaging food for distribution to the needy. Along with a friend I met at the pantry, I also have volunteered at one-time events at other food distribution efforts. It's a great way to socialize and have fun, while helping others at the same time. I also volunteer with a wolf rescue organization in the area, doing photography, helping with the organization's Web page and outreach events, and managing its Facebook page. Once a year I also spearhead the development of its calendar, a major fundraising effort.

I also donate money to a variety of charities. I want to see the good my donations can do, while I am still alive, rather than having the money donated after I am no longer here. Yet despite these efforts, I feel that I should be doing even more. I am blessed to have the good health, time and financial resources to help.

Lately, I have been thinking about becoming a volunteer driver in the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program. For many reasons, getting to and from treatment appointments is a challenge to many people. Some people don't have a car, and some are unable to drive themselves. I could help out by driving people to treatment. 

As I have become older, I have felt a stronger call to get more involved in the things that are important to me. I suppose this is a natural result of getting older -- wanting to leave a positive mark on the world, and to perhaps leave things better than they were. To be sure, there is so much more that I could be doing.

I was talking to another volunteer at the food pantry one week about the importance of keeping busy and staying involved as we get older. She will be 85 next month, and she volunteers at the pantry two mornings each week. We both agreed that volunteering is so much better than just sitting at home alone, watching television or being bored. Volunteering helps the organization for which we volunteer and the people it serves, but it also helps us. It keeps us active and involved, and it feels good to be able to help the less fortunate in some small way.

Doing for others is important for another reason -- it can help us keep our own problems and worries in perspective. Doing for others should make us realize how blessed we are, and that there are so many people in the world who have so little.

So, "what are you doing for others?"