How to Volunteer from Your Desk

by | Jun 22, 2011 04:44 PM ET

photo courtesy k. neer

If you've read "How to Spruce Up a Green Space," "How to Make a Difference in Four Hours" or "How to Discover Your Impact," then you know Jessika and I are pretty keen on volunteerism. And you also know what Jessika did to celebrate Discovery's Discover Your Impact Day. Although I would have loved to join Jessika in ATL at the park cleanup, I needed to opt for something I could do from my desk.

More than 3,000 Discovery employees, working on more than 140 projects worldwide, participated in the second annual Discover Your Impact Day last Friday. While most of the projects involved working on site at parks, schools, animal shelters and more, some projects could be done from the office or at home. Among these "do anywhere" volunteer opportunities, employees could, like last year, make greeting cards for the "Thoughtful Treasures" mailbox program at The Children's Inn at NIH (National Institutes of Health) or Operation Write Home.

Since I made cards for The Children's Inn at NIH last year, I opted to make cards for Operation Write Home this year. To give you an idea of what this group does, here's its mission statement:

Supporting our nation's armed forces by sending blank handmade greeting cards to write home on, as well as cards of gratitude to encourage them.

To date, crafts-minded folks of all ages from all over the U.S. and other countries have made more than 1 million cards for the troops (as of Monday, June 20th, they'd shipped 1,042,276). For more about Operation Write Home, check out the video on the organization's Web site.

To make the cards, I approached it the same way I made the paper bookmarks for last year's Mother's Day post, creating collage-like images using stickers, photos and paint. I think they turned out OK -- take a look at the photos below and let me know what you think.

photo courtesy k. neer
photo courtesy k.neer
photo courtesy k.neer

Making the cards was lots of fun. And I hope the soldiers and their loved ones will feel a similar sense of happiness when sending and receiving them.

We all have busy schedules and sometimes it seems almost impossible to think about adding one more thing to our daily to-do list. But volunteering -- be it at your kids' school, the local library, a shelter, a food pantry or even your own dining room table doing something like making these cards -- is totally worth the few (or many) hours you have each week to give. I said this last year, and I think it bears repeating: It's amazing how just a few moments of your time truly can make a positive impact on another person's life.

Have any stories of volunteerism to share? Let us know. And while you're at it, don't forget to follow How-to Stuff on Facebook and Twitter, and download our iPhone or Android apps.

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