NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: Help make 2015 year of volunteer

Abby Moore helps stack and sort clothes at the 'Donation House.' A year ago, her parents, Lisa and Shawn Moore, helped a friend whose house burned down by gathering donated goods for the woman. However, they quickly saw a need in the Marble Falls area for donated household items and clothing for people falling on hard times and came up with Moore's Giving More Project. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — When we come across a tragedy or issue that makes us pause, one of the first questions that pops into our minds is usually, “What can I do?”

A quick monetary donation helps, but one of the best things we can do is “something.” And we do that by volunteering.

Volunteering often brings up ideas of heading across the world to a little village to help build a water well or helping clean up a natural disaster. But with our lives rolling right along at home with jobs, children and other things, it’s hard to justify heading to a far-off place.

Or maybe you read about hunger or illiteracy causing many people to struggle, but you don’t know exactly how you can make a difference with such big problems.

Sometimes, it’s not a matter of tackling an entire worldwide issue, but finding something nearby to do that will change the life of one person.

Shawn and Lisa Moore began helping after seeing the devastation of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes a few years back. They asked people to donate items and then headed to the town with a load of things. Not long after, a friend of the Moores lost her home in a fire. The Moores followed the same basic idea they used for the tornado response. They asked people in the local community if they had anything they could donate to the fire victim. Again, they ended up delivering a large load of needed items.

Now, the Moores continue through the Moore’s Giving More Project for which they collect clothing, household appliances and other items to donate to Highland Lakes residents who need a little assistance. It has basically become a regular endeavor for the Moores, including their children.

But not everybody has to jump into such a big project. In fact, the Moore family never started out volunteering with the idea of something so grand.

Volunteering, Lisa said, often starts with just looking for something you can do for a neighbor.

“Shawn and I have helped people through the years with simple things like raking leaves for an older couple or making a meal for someone coming home from the hospital to now this (Moore’s Giving More Project),” she said.

Tackling major issues — even hunger and poverty — often starts right in our own neighborhood. When we look at the “big issue,” it looks like much more than anything we as individuals or families can solve. But looking at how we can help in our own backyards is a step toward a much larger solution.

In the Highland Lakes, many organizations, including Literacy Highland Lakes (www.literacyhl.org) and Meals on Wheels (www.wbco.net), offer volunteer opportunities. And the great thing about volunteering is you can start at a level at which you’re most comfortable — but be ready for the desire for it to become a bigger part of your life.

And, as the Moores demonstrate and explain, it’s something the entire family can enjoy.

“Since we homeschool our children, volunteering is part of our schooling,” Lisa said. Along with their project, the Moore children volunteer at church and other places as well.

“Seeing the smiles on people’s faces or tears of joy from people is far more rewarding to us than a TV show or movie night,” she said. “There is more people in need around here than people realize, and we feel it is our job to help them if we can.”

One way to get the family involved is to pick an organization and volunteer as a family. An afternoon, a Saturday or an evening of sorting items for a local food pantry not only gives back to the community, it also serves as a great family bonding opportunity.

You can have the kids do something as simple as bake cookies for a shut-in or an elderly person who might be alone quite a bit and then deliver them as a family.

Moore said simple things such as raking leaves just weren’t enough for her and her family once they realized the impact they could make on people’s lives, which led to the Moore’s Giving More Project.

So, volunteering not only changes the people we help but ourselves as well. And often, the best way we can make the world a better place is by starting with our own neighborhood.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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