By Marsha Sutton
As we enter into my favorite time of year — the weeks between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays — we start by giving thanks and being grateful, and move into the season of giving back and helping others.
And, as always, I am struck by the amount of charity work members in our communities actually do.
A recent issue of the Carmel Valley News featured a remarkable number of stories on local residents working for nonprofits doing community service and offering a helping hand to others in need. One issue alone contained the following stories:
- Advocates for Injured Athletes is an organization that helps young athletes injured in sports navigate required medical services and connect with others who have experienced similar traumas.
- A profile on the winner of the Spirit of Giving Award was presented by an organization working to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy centers.
- A businesswoman donates a percentage of the proceeds from her new food product to Human Touch Projects to help orphanages worldwide.
- A recent Torrey Pines High School graduate founded Everything's Gonna Be OK, a nonprofit that helps young adults in developing countries by providing vocational and educational training.
- Boutiques for a Cause organizes fundraising fairs and boutiques for charities or schools and has vendors donate a portion of their proceeds to that charity.
- A grant given by the Del Mar Foundation to a local school to plant and grow an organic garden advances education.
- National Charity League's volunteer efforts help the San Diego Humane Society.
- An effort to collect books for donation to local school libraries benefits children.
- San Diego Jewish Academy's 5K Run/Walk on Thanksgiving morning raises funds for the San Diego food pantry.
- Surfrider Foundation sponsors a beach clean-up morning.
- A fundraiser for Conner's Cause for Children raises money for families struggling to care for very sick children.
And that was just one issue of the paper. Every week, there are stories featuring many residents — both children and adults — who give generously of their time and money by engaging in volunteer efforts and community service that benefit nonprofits and the needy from Carmel Valley to Afghanistan.
These are people who participate in breast cancer walks, cook at Mama's Kitchen, spend hours volunteering in local schools and libraries, work without pay for educational and medical foundations, give of their talent to people in need of emotional support and social services, feed the homeless in food lines, donate clothing to battered women's shelters, drive senior citizens to doctors' appointments, pick up trash along trails and bike paths, campaign for animal rights ... and on and on the list goes.
Some even start their own foundations and nonprofits, when they recognize a need or a cause that isn't being served and has fallen through the cracks.
High school students represent a large part of the community service energy — although admittedly, the catalyst for some is the need for community service hours for college applications. But for other kids, the caring is genuine and heartfelt, and continues long after that college acceptance letter has been received.