Making a Difference
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy – January 20th 1961
We were truly inspired by Barack Obama’s request to the American people to serve their communities on January 19th – Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. After watching this video by Barack Obama and this video by Michelle Obama, the girls felt as if they had been asked personally by the future President and First Lady to make a difference in their community. They also experienced a moment of sheer delight when they envisioned the possibility of “every single person in the whole United States” doing something to make this country a better place.
After watching the videos we logged in to USAService.org to find a local project that we could be involved with. We discovered a food drive that was being held in our neighborhood to collect donations for our local food pantry. They were requesting food, warm jackets and dishes, so we spent some time gathering items that we hand delivered.
Our daughter’s school also sent out a newsletter that was full of ideas on how to serve our local community. One of the suggestions was to make Valentine’s Day cards for homebound adults who receive deliveries from our local chapter of Meals On Wheels. The girls felt great about making cards that would brighten someone’s Valentine’s Day.
I appreciate the encouragement that President-elect Barack Obama gave us to take time out of our daily routines and reach out to others. I am grateful that he gave us an opening to talk about what it means to serve our community and to find the ways that we could give. What I am most excited about is that through these activities, the girls have experienced first hand what it means contribute to their community and the world. They are learning that small things can have a big impact and that by giving they can become a part of something bigger than themselves. Once they feel it… truly internalize the feeling of making a difference, they will begin to seek it out on their own and expect nothing less from themselves and others. This weekend was a wonderful opportunity for children across the country to get involved in their communities and begin to learn about what it really means to be an American citizen – the most inspiring part is that it is just the beginning…
At the end of our experiences, I overheard my oldest daughter talking to her Grandma Mary on the telephone. She was glowing as she told her about all of the items she had hand picked to donate to the food pantry and all the details of the numerous Valentine’s Day cards she had made. Then she paused for a moment and said, “Didn’t Obama ask you to help too?”
Call to Service