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Holidays

Six Ways to Throw Holiday Parties with a Purpose

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Six Ways to Throw Holiday Parties with a Purpose

It’s that time of year. Seems like there are multiple parties every week between now and New Year’s Day. Cookie exchanges, office parties, tree trimming parties, ugly holiday sweater parties, neighborhood get-togethers, family events, New Year’s Eve and don’t forget Festivus for the Rest of Us!

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Volunteering & Kindness: Secrets to a Meaningful Thanksgiving

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Volunteering & Kindness: Secrets to a Meaningful Thanksgiving

Since we started making turkey-themed crafts in kindergarten, we’ve been taught that being grateful is important.  However, this year I challenge you not just to share your gratitude at Thanksgiving dinner, but to also be proactive with your thanks by expressing it to those you appreciate most.  

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Volunteering on Valentine's Day

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Volunteering on Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and the best way to show your love for others is volunteering. Usually when we think of Valentine’s Day, things like chocolates, flowers, and cards come to mind, but this year why not extend Valentine’s Day to caring for others, perhaps total strangers, who are in need of some kindness. 

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Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. through Service

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Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. through Service

By: NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo

How will you be spending the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday? Will you be sleeping in, grateful for the shortened work week? Watch another season of your latest Netflix obsession? Catch up on work or studying? Will you be treating it like any other long weekend? Or, will you join the thousands of people who will use this day to create stronger communities through service?

What is MLK Day? Why is it Important?

In 1983, Congress signed legislation that created Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January. In honor of Dr. King’s vision for equality and justice through community efforts, MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is designated as a day of service. People from all walks of life are encouraged to improve the lives of those in their communities by taking a pause from their regular schedule to take action against pressing issues, such as civil rights, education, the environment, health, hunger, and poverty.

We can learn from Dr. King’s life by modeling his dedication to solving social issues through nonviolent community collaboration. It’s “A Day On, Not a Day Off” where we can explore our ability to make positive change through service. The hope is that this celebration will illustrate that those who volunteer can exercise tremendous influence in our communities.

Who Will Serve?

Anyone and everyone are encouraged to volunteer on MLK Day. It is important that both non-profits and businesses in the community collaborate. Non-profits can organize special service events to bring people together around a specific social cause. Businesses can help by sponsoring similar volunteer events or giving their employees time off for service. Both non-profit and for-profit organizations are key to the success of MLK Day.

How Can You Share Your Service?

Not only is it important to serve on MLK Day, it is also important to make your service visible to others in your community. Today it is easier than ever to promote service through social media.

Before MLK Day, share and invite people to volunteer with you through social media and by speaking with your friends, colleagues, and students. Organizations can also join the MLK Day Service network to connect with community members and access resources to help raise awareness and gain funds. Serving as a family can also help form a tradition of service and reinforce community values.

After your day of service, be sure to use social media to share how you volunteered. MLK Day is a chance to replace a lazy Monday off with meaningful action - we can replace one social media post or photo about ourselves with something we can do for others. With service also comes advocacy, and sharing your experiences and actions can help others become involved.

America’s Sunday Supper

A unique way of getting involved with MLK Day is to host a Sunday Supper. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for bringing together people of different backgrounds in order to foster unity within communities, Sunday Suppers are a chance for people to come together and share a meal while discussing issues within their community.

Hosting these events is not very difficult. You or your organization will need to advertise your event and plan a discussion. If you are looking for funds, you could ask guests for donations, speak with local businesses such as grocery stores about donating food, or make the Sunday Supper simpler by simply having light refreshments and snacks. You might also want to use this event to collect material or monetary donations for your topic of discussion. For example, if you plan to discuss hunger, then ask guests to bring canned food donations.

Alternatively, you could incorporate a plan of action into your discussion. After discussing the important facts and causes of an issue, you could move the discussion into possible solutions and come up with a service project at a future date. Another option might be to plan a service project directly after the discussion.

When I was involved in hosting Sunday Suppers in the past, the program encouraged organizers to begin the meal with a film or documentary related to an issue and then end with a discussion about the issue afterwards. We hosted a Sunday Supper about health and obesity by showing the film The Weight of the Nation and a second event about violence featuring The Interrupters.

This year, documentaries about social issues are not available on the American Sunday Suppers event page, so getting appropriate films and the permission to show them may be more difficult. However, this shows how the idea of the Sunday Supper is versatile and adaptable. A Sunday Supper does not have to take place on Sunday nor does it have to be in the evening, but it is a chance to make the MLK weekend a dialogue about pressing issues in our community.

Get Involved

I hope that you will find some way to spend your MLK Day off by serving others. Volunteering is a special way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by continuing a tradition of service, as well as a way of honoring your community by giving back to those in need. Tell us how you plan to serve your community.

Looking for a meaningful service opportunity for MLK Day or for service events throughout the year? Sign up for your free NobleHour account and start making a difference today!

Sources:

http://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/days-service/martin-luther-king-jr-day-service/about-dr-king-and-mlk-day

http://www.handsonnetwork.org/three-ways-get-involved-mlk-day-service

http://www.pointsoflight.org/signature-events/martin-luther-king-jr-day-service


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Six Ways to Honor Veterans

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Six Ways to Honor Veterans

*This post was updated on 11/4/2015.

By: NobleHour Special Contributor Dolly Duplantier

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11. Established in 1954, the federal holiday honors the service of all U.S. military veterans. Seems to me though, these brave men and women should be honored every day of the year. Both my parents were Marines. My father retired as a Colonel and my mother a Captain. I believe she was in one of the first classes of women Marines, one of her proudest accomplishments. I never fully realized the importance of their commitment until I was an adult. Maybe it’s because they didn’t talk about it that often. I’m not really sure. I do feel that it is extremely important for all of us to recognize our troops and our Veterans and to teach our children about the sacrifices made.

In the military, “Got Your 6” means “I’ve Got Your Back.” In WWI, fighter pilots referenced the rear of an airplane as the six o’clock position. This term emphasizes the way military members look out for each other. Now it’s our turn - on Veterans Day and year round, here are six ways you, your family and your community can honor all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

  1. Send a letter of thanks to courageous Veterans. This simple act is so meaningful and can have a lasting impact. In fact, it is one of Operation Gratitude’s most urgent needs. Send a card to someone you know who has served in the Military or you can send multiple letters that fit in a standard size business envelope to Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that seeks to meet the needs of and express appreciation to Active Duty and Veteran communities. They will forward the letters to Veterans. If you know a Veteran that would appreciate Letters of Gratitude, you can send his or her name, the war in which they served and their USPS address to opgratvolunteer1@yahoo.com.
  2.  Organize a collection drive or a “Care Kit Assembly” event. Engage friends and family, as well as church and school groups to collect needed items for Veterans. Operation Gratitude’s program delivers thousands of care packages to Military Veterans across the country. VA hospitals, nursing homes, and support organizations make requests for specific items. Their wish lists include everything from hats and scarves, to personal electronics, non-perishable snacks, and gift cards. You can also send donations directly through Amazon.com or donate to Operation Gratitude. Every $15 can cover the assembly and shipping costs to send packages.
  3. Recycle for Veterans! Collect old cell phones, iPads, and iPods, as well as inkjet cartridges, and laptop computers. Operation Gratitude receives money for items donated in their name and students can earn service hours while helping the environment!
  4. Take a Veteran to School Day.™  Show the Veterans in your community how much you value their commitment and sacrifice. Students can learn about character and strength, when Veterans bring history to life by sharing their stories.
  5. Volunteer at your local Veterans facility. The US Department of Veterans Affairs can help you find the nearest facility in your state. 
  6. Use social media to #ThankAVet and help raise money! The HISTORY channel’s Thank A Vet social campaign will donate $1 (up to $25,000) for each Tweet using #ThankAVet sent between 11/9/15 and 11/13/15. Donations will support DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

Continue to honor our Veterans everyday. Let them know, "You've Got their 6!" Tell us about the special men and women in your life that have served our country! Thank you to our Veterans for your bravery and your sacrifice.

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