Last week, as so many of us tried to make sense of the terrible events in Boston, this message from the beloved children's television host Fred Rogers began to pop up on Facebook pages, twitter posts and in the news media: "Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.'"
This is National Volunteer Week, and there is no better time to "look for the helpers." From marathon volunteers who aided the injured in Boston, to those who rushed to help those who were hurt in West, Texas, to the young Operation Lorax volunteers who planted 1,000 trees following a devastating wildfire in Washington State, helpers are everywhere.
In a White House proclamation declaring April 21-27 National Volunteer Week, President Barack Obama reminds us that, "We are home to more than 300 million people who come from every background, practice every faith, and hold every point of view. But where difference could draw us apart, we are bound together by a single sacred word: citizen. Ordinary men and women have stepped forward and accomplished extraordinary things together, uniting as friends and neighbors and fellow citizens."
At Points of Light this week, we will be celebrating the power of volunteer service to bring people to together.
- To kickoff National Volunteer Week, Points of Light lit up a Times Square billboard with a message about volunteering, thanks to our friends at Bank of America.
- Today, generationOn, Points of Light's youth service division, is mobilizing kids and their families in the fight against child hunger through events at Arby's restaurants in five cities. The events are part of "What will you bring to the table?" a six-week campaign raising awareness of child hunger, and 1 million meals for children in need.
- And in Tysons Corner, Virginia, 200 community leaders got together to discuss how to use skills-based volunteering to help solve critical community problems. The event was hosted by A Billion+Change, Deloitte, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, George Mason University and Fairfax County Government.
- On Tuesday, as part of a year-long tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and volunteerism, Points of Light and Target will host an America's Sunday Supper in Los Angeles. This year, more than 100,000 people will take part in Sunday Suppers across the nation. I hope you'll join the conversation online at #2013MLKDay or by hosting your own Sunday Supper.
- On Wednesday, Points of Light, with support from lead sponsor ITT Exelis, will testify to the power of volunteers to help veterans, military members and their families succeed before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Find out if your city or town is using proven tools and resources to help the 1 million veterans expected to transition out of the military in the next four years.
- On Thursday, Points of Light will join with USA WEEKEND and Newman's Own to honor Make a Difference Day award winners – volunteers whose extraordinary service is making our communities and our nation stronger.
- On Saturday, HandsOn Inland Empire in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will lead 400 volunteers in a school makeover project at a local elementary school – just one of the many service projects and volunteer recognition events HandsOn Network affiliates are organizing across the nation.
Even in difficult times when we search our hearts to try to understand the marathon bombing and the loss of so many in West, Texas, we can take comfort, as Fred Rogers said, "by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
Take a moment to look for and celebrate the helpers this week and join me in extending our deepest thanks for the work volunteers do every day.
CEO, Points of Light