How YOU can make a difference

Thursday, February 21st 2008, 3:05 pm
By: News 9

If you watch News9, you may have noticed something written underneath our names when they appear on the screen. It says "Making a Difference." That's what we try to do here at News9 everyday. And at the same time, highlight people in the community who are making a difference too.

Would you like to make a difference? Depending on your talent, your time and your passion, you can find local philanthropists who need help from people like you. A good place to start is by checking a website called Narrow your search by interest, and type in your zip code to find an opportunity close to home.

I checked the site and found that Compassionate Care Hospice needs a Therapeutic Piano Player. Friends Food Pantry needs help with their home delivery program. The Arts Festival Oklahoma needs help with everything from running a concession to artist ambassadors.

You can also make a difference without leaving the house! When was the last time you said hello to your neighbor and asked if they needed anything? Have you contacted an old friend lately? Perhaps they need someone right now. I've also interviewed Karen Stark with The Hugs Project, an organization dedicated to sending care packages to troops overseas. She says writing letters to the troops makes a big difference, especially when the letter comes from a stranger.

The Red Cross of Oklahoma is a wonderful organization. Leaders at the Red Cross say, senior citizens are especially helpful. And there are several opportunities within the Red Cross, even if you think you have no "special" skills!

"We teach you everything you need to volunteer with the Red Cross. From our sewing program to CPR training, we can get you trained," said Jennifer Garner of the Oklahoma chapter of the Red Cross.

Every Thursday a special group of sewers meet at the Red Cross to stitch stuffed animals for children in DHS custody, and blankets for our veterans. If you have time to give, perhaps you can volunteer to travel with the Disaster Action Team, or DAT. Recently, the DAT went to Arkansas to help tornado victims. Four of the volunteers were over the age of 55. But people of any age can help!

If you can't travel far, but you're interested in helping during disasters, the team is well utilized in Oklahoma too. During wildfires, the DAT gives refreshments to firefighters, and comforts fire victims.

It doesn't matter which avenue you take, whether you give money or time, or offer words of kindness, there are ways you can make a difference. And if you do, perhaps you'll inspire others to make a difference too!