It only takes one
Our lives are an interesting journey made up of many different roads, almost like pieces of a pie. We have many opportunities to do all kinds of things that can make a difference. Many times, those things make a difference for other people, often people that we don’t even know.
What is it that motivates us to “do unto others”? Is it silent self-gratification, or is it so you can tell everyone about all the great things that you are doing for others to make yourself feel better about yourself? Do you do it because of something that may have had a profound impact on you in your past? Do you do it to try and make up for something else that you may have done that wasn’t very nice? Or do you do wonderful things for others simply because you know it’s the right thing to do and it warms your heart and gives you a sense of peace? In any of these situations, the bottom line is that you are having a positive impact on others, and that is something that we need a lot more of in our crazy and fast-paced tech-driven faceless world.
What I’ve learned over the years is that it only takes one. It only takes one idea, or action to potentially grow into something that can be very impactful. If someone has an idea that others can relate to, and it is something that is tangible and easily done by others meaning it gives them an opportunity to help others without much effort, that is an idea can work.
Here is an example. Many years ago, never having been hungry myself, I found it hard to believe that others in my community were in need of food. I was introduced to our local food bank and met some pretty incredible and amazing volunteers who donated up to 40 hours of their time per week to assist those in need. I was deeply affected by meeting not only them but those that they served. For some reason, it resonated with me that maybe somehow I could help as well. It only took one meeting and I had made up my mind to help.
I became involved in our local Association of Realtors Food Drives in the mid-1980’s and had a lot of fun doing it. Those food drives continued for at least 10 more years, each year ended by building a 20- ft. tall Christmas tree made from cans of food. It was displayed in a visible local parking lot to raise awareness of the need for donations. It was quite a community event and it was successful for many years but as we rolled into the mid-1990’s, post-1994 earthquake and the very deep recession, it no longer worked as well, but we kept trying.
One day, I went to the food bank to see how things were going for Thanksgiving. Willa, the woman who ran Care and Share, our local food bank, explained that she had very few turkeys for the families in need. I decided to go to our local grocery store, and I asked the manager how many turkeys I could buy for $200. This is in the late 1990’s. She asked why and I explained the situation at the food bank. She asked if it would be better to provide groceries for meals. Never having cooked a Thanksgiving Dinner myself, she took me through the store and realized that for $20 I could provide all of the basic fixings including the turkey for a family. I bought 10 of them, with my wife’s permission, and took them to Willa. She cried when I gave them to her, and I will never forget that feeling of warmth at that moment.
I came back to my office and explained to my friend Brian, the owner of the Real Estate company where I worked, what had happened and that I needed to figure out how to raise more money for Willa’s families. We decided that I would present it to the office the next day. I did and next thing I knew, I had enough money to purchase another 140+ dinners. One idea, simple, and with passion, fueled by one experience, one thought, and many people who simply needed a way to make a difference.
The Troop Turkey-a-thon was born.
After many years of having our annual Turkey Drives, it has grown into a county-wide event, with literally hundreds of volunteers, donors, and thousands of recipient families and groups annually. This year, we were able to provide over 2,850 families with their fixings for Thanksgiving all over the county and we continue to try and do more each year.
And it all began with one impactful experience, which fueled an idea, which was shared and blossomed into an event that positively affects thousands. Hundreds of people impacting thousands of people.