Lord your forgiveness is the sure and unchanging foundation of my faith. I thank you that you have made it available to me through my faith in your Son.

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Volunteer Passion and Payoff

Dana Anzalone

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I have been employed with a local children's hospital for the past five and a half years. I remember the first week on the job as if it was yesterday. It didn't take long working there to realize how very fortunate I was to have a healthy child, and every day I thank God for my many blessings. Nevertheless, it broke my heart to see that so many of the patients I served were confined to wheelchairs. These are children who will never have the same opportunity my child will.

I remember a particular day before Thanksgiving in November 2003 when a young boy came in for his appointment. At the time, he was eight years old and a resident of a local children's home. His only wish was to be adopted before the holidays. Now I am a strong believer in miracles, but I knew this was one that wouldn't happen quickly. Although I could not fulfill his wish, I felt strongly about doing something to help make this child's holiday a little brighter. So I decided to bring him Thanksgiving dinner. He picked the menu. That Thanksgiving it was me, a bucket of chicken, chocolate milk, and this adorable little kid. But during my visit with him, I realized there were 25 other kids there in the same boat. They needed to shine in the spotlight too.

This Thanksgiving idea has grown since then, and this past year, we celebrated the fifth annual Thanksgiving feast with the entire children's home. Over the years many people have stepped up to the plate to help, but I have taken the responsibility for this event year after year. I have spent countless hours going to every local business I can think of asking for donations. This past year was the biggest one yet. I was able to recruit Fred Bird as well as other local entertainers. They all donated their time to bring smiles to these children.

All of my life, I've been a go-getter when it comes to doing something for somebody else, putting someone in the spotlight, or doing what I can to make someone feel better. At the age of 13, along with my childhood best friend, we had a carnival in my backyard to help raise money for missing and exploited children. Not too long ago, I came across a box titled, "Carnival Memories." As I was looking through it, I could not believe all the companies I contacted for a donation. I have often been told how creative I am when it comes to planning and organizing. I guess I finally understood this when I looked through that box and realized this has always been my niche.

Volunteering is a great way to further a cause, show support for an organization, and make a difference in the community. For me, it has been a wonderful opportunity to meet new people. If you'd like to give something besides money, consider lending your time and talents to organizations important to you. There's always something you can do for someone else!

If Dana's experiences and those of this week's Woman to Woman guests inspired you to put your hands to use for others, you can always find people and organizations in your own community that need your help. If you'd like to go a little more global in your plans, check out Lutheran Hour Ministries' Global Work & Witness program. The GW&W program gives volunteers a chance to participate in global outreach efforts through short-term overseas mission trips. As part of a GW&W team, volunteers take on a variety of service projects that allow them to share the love of Christ with people who may otherwise have never known it. They may be helping to construct a building, do general repairs, or conduct Vacation Bible School for children. For more information on the work of the GW&W program and to find out how you can get involved, click here!

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