Some days, weeks, months, and years are harder than others. This week it has been difficult to keep my cynicism, feelings of nothing will make much of a difference, and general pessimism at bay. There's no real cause, just the doldrums I suppose.
In an effort to adjust my attitude this week, I've looked for some motivating thoughts and found the following sage advice:
“Consciously or unconsciously, everyone of us does render some service or another. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and it will make not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.” - Mahatma Ghandi
"Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" - The Rev. Martin Luther King
"Goodness is the only investment that never fails." - Henry David Thoreau
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
“One Frog Can Make a Difference” spelled out Kermit’s philosophy of life, and though the book parodied the self-help books of the 1990s, it also spoke more than a few truths about doing good.
When I speak to groups about Drop In & Decorate, the nationwide nonprofit cookies-for-donation program that grew from an aha! moment in my Rhode Island kitchen, I tell them I’m not green, not skinny, and not a TV star, but I try to channel a bit of Kermit every day.
And, maybe, a little bit of Cookie Monster, too.
BAKE, DECORATE, DONATE.
In an increasingly complicated world, Drop In & Decorate remains a simple community service idea:
bake, decorate, and donate cookies to nonprofit agencies addressing the basic human needs of food or shelter, right in your own neighborhood.
There’s no fundraising, and no bake sale – just people in their home kitchens, community centers, faith groups, schools, and in the workplace, donating their time and creativity for others in need in their community.
Drop In & Decorate works year-round to bring small moments of joy to neighbors in circumstances most of us cannot imagine: living four to a bedroom in an emergency shelter; staying in a Ronald McDonald House to be near a child in the hospital; lining up at a soup kitchen for your only meal of the day. Cookies make people smile, and those smiles can help someone get through a tough day.
Deborah DeBare, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, explains:
"The cookies donated through Drop in & Decorate are so much more than delicious desserts. They represent a sense of community, of people who care for one another, and who are willing to reach out to families in need to let them know that they are not alone. When I have seen the women and children in our network of shelters receive these beautiful hand-made and packaged treats, their faces light up, even before they taste them, to see the care and love that went into each individual gift of hope."
If you’d told me ten years ago that Drop In & Decorate® events in 36 states and Canada would donate more than 32,000 cookies to more than 150 nonprofit agencies serving thousands of families and children, I wouldn’t have believed you.
You can help us do more. Throughout the year, we distribute coupons and gift cards for baking supplies, and we also send supplies to hosts. Our web site offers lots of how-to information, a host-your-own guide, as well as reports on events around the country. We lend a small supply of materials (cookie cutters, squeeze bottles) to hosts who agree to pay the return shipping costs.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Most Drop In & Decorate® events donate 80-150 cookies. A tax-deductible gift of $52 – just $1 a week, as Dollar Philanthropy suggests – can bring many smiles to the children and families served.
This year, we’d like to increase our direct support to events in two ways.
1. Donate more gift cards from stores that sell cookie decoration supplies. (Last year we purchased a limited number of Michael’s gift cards, so hosts could buy squeeze bottles, cookie cutters and food coloring for icing; it was a very popular incentive and a real help to first-time hosts.) A donation of $52 will buy 5 gift cards.
2. We’ve found a source for eco-friendly, compostable, food-safe cellophane bags, and we want to encourage our hosts to use them. As with many “green” products, they cost more than regular bags. A donation of $52 will buy 400 eco-friendly cookie bags.
IBM does it. Home Depot and British Airways do it. Even smaller, lesser known companies like Cabot Corporation and Two Men and a Truck do it. They all encourage their employees to participate in some sort of community service. Some encourage individuals and others encourage group activities. Either way, these companies have learned that there are benefits of employee volunteering and workplace community service.
In my research on the topic I have found several publications that provide imporant research into the topic. These documents are quite long and can be quite boring in places. However if you are a person who is looking to start an employee volunteer or community service program for you may want to download and reference these because they present wonderful business cases.
Nutshell view: Why I Think Workplace Community Service is Great
Its a perfect teambuilding exercise: Teambuilding gets such a bad rap. Automatically we think of ropes courses, goofy trust exercises, and never-ending breakout and small group sessions. However, community service projects appeal to employees' good nature and willingness to help another in need. While working on said project with colleagues, employees can complete many teambuilding objectives without the need to scale some huge tree and trust that someone will catch them if they jump off or fall off (whatever the case may be).
Employee Retention: Research (from above) indicates that companies that have community service activities retain more employees.
Improved morale: There is no better feeling than helping someone who needs it. This positive feeling, when associated with the workplace, can improve workplace and employee morale.
Its easy and inexpensive: You don't have to sign up to build a house or a playground. You can do something simple like collect books for an afterschool program, collect school supplies for foster kids, have a food drive, or partner with a meals on wheels group and offer to clean the gutters of the homes of two families in need.
It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Many activities, especially fundraising for a cause, can be done over a lunch hour.
Dollar Philanthropy has a whole category that will help you come up with ideas suitable for workplaces. Explore. Also feel free to comment or send me an email (carol at drivinging in traffic dot com) telling me about your great idea-- pictures welcome too!
So now get busy! The holidays will be upon us soon and people love to help people during the holidays. Start planning now!
I just love the Paradigm Project fellas! They tell the story so well. The statistics are sad, but these videos educate me and actually feel a little jealous that I didn''t get to go on that trip. I am always amazed at the smiles I see in these videos. Makes me evermore thankful and grateful for what I have and hopeful that if I didn't have it one day, that I would still find happiness.
I usually prefer to talk policy rather than politics. I can be quite sarcastic when vexed. Also, I try hard not to let my favorite defense mechanism, cynicism, get the best of me. Today I fail... but I've got to get this off of my chest!
consider if you will... The Landscape Guy, The Garbage Collector, The Construction Worker, The Grocery Cart Collector: All of them work in this heat and only a few of them get two weeks of paid vacation and even fewer get health insurance.
Next consider our Congress people who argue, obfuscate, fly on airplanes, shake a few hands, and sometimes miss a few hours of sleep -- all in climate-controlled conditions, rarely breaking a sweat. They have the best working conditions and only have to take a few steps to get a meal. Yet, they remain an epic failure and have no compunction about taking a month off and leaving 70,000 FAA workers in a lurch - for starters.
Yes, I know it is part of the schedule. Yes, I know the vacation schedule has been this way forever. Yes, I know that the individual congresspeople have no control of the schedule.
Just allow me this whistful thought: I wish I could waste as much time on my job as they do and still be able to take a vacation.