Make a Difference in 2013

"My New Year's resolution is to stop eating sweets and start eating healthier."

"In 2013, I will spend more time with my family."

"My resolution this year is to join the local gym and exercise more."

We've all heard these stereotypical New Year's resolutions before. Once the clock strikes midnight and January 1st arrives, we're always determined to make this year different with our new goals in mind.

As I reflected back on 2012, I realized that the year's highlights were when I was giving to others. From planning and directing "Bless This Dress" Prom Dress Drive for local high school girls who couldn't afford a gown last spring to August's Back-to-School event where I helped distribute school supplies to students in need, I immersed myself in giving and dedicated time for others. This year, I plan to continue paying it forward.

During the holiday season, people are more inclined to volunteer and give back to others. Christmas carolers crowd hallways in hospitals and nursing homes, singing about Santa's reindeer and candy canes. Suddenly, people whip out their shovels to remove snow for an elderly neighbor. Everybody cleans out their closets, donating their gently-used coats to keep someone warm this winter. Christmas cookies are baked, packaged, and then delivered to homeless shelters. It seems like everyone's needs are met for those few, short weeks. Then, on December 26, it all comes to an abrupt halt. Today, people are still in need. The hungry and homeless do not disappear when Christmas ends.

January is right around the corner, just days away. Make it your New Year's resolution to volunteer! Donate blood through the Red Cross. Sign up at your local soup kitchen to serve meals. Spend an hour every week reading to the blind. Use your musical abilities to host a talent show for hospitalized children. There are infinite opportunities for you to make a difference. Utilize your interests and passions for good! Make 2013 about others; use the year to bless someone else's life and make a positive change in the world. Even if you don't have time to dedicate for a particular, long-term project you can practice "acts of kindness", which are also known as "angel deeds". Every day, make an effort to be altruistic and benevolent. Whether it's simply holding the door open for a stranger or congratulating a friend on the "A+" she received on the math test; sometimes the littlest actions make the biggest difference.

Below is a collage of pictures from 2012 of people all ages, volunteering. Alex's Lemonade Stand, Hurricane Sandy Relief, and a clothing drive are among the many projects displayed in the photographs. Maybe some of the pictures will inspire you, sparking an idea for 2013.

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