My freshman year of college I was slapped with a $300 parking ticket for illegally parking in a handicap spot on campus.
Technically, I was only temporarily using the spot to unload my car, but still it was not cool of me to do. I know.
It did though introduce me to a world of volunteering and do-gooders I’ll always be thankful for.
You see, I couldn’t afford to pay the ticket so to work it off every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the year I boarded the school bus (with actual do-gooders) and headed to downtown San Diego to serve lunch at a shelter.
Coming from a small town with few homeless folks I’d never experienced a city area like the one I found myself in. Nor, had I seen so many people in need of food, something so basic in my world it was hard for me to wrap my head around.
Not all of it was warm and fuzzy, there were a few interesting characters we encountered, but it felt really good to do good.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?
Shortly after completing my “volunteer” services I knew helping others was something I felt called to continue.
Being most passionate about animals and kids I began getting involved with organizations serving them.
Fast-forward several years later, I was living in West Hollywood and starting my first business from my kitchen table when Hurricane Katrina rocked our country.
I hardly had cash to spare but donated $5 to something George Clooney put together.
It didn’t feel enough though.
Since animals have my heart, I was fortunate to get involved with an organization that flew hundreds of dogs and cats out of the devastation in New Orleans to LA and spent a weekend alongside fellow animal-lovers helping these scared and displaced furry friends.
We were each assigned animals to take through different stations of getting bathed, fed, micro-chipped and photos taken for a website where their families back home would hopefully be able to identify them and reunite.
In the meantime though, they needed care.
That’s when I became a foster-mom to a sweet pup named Linus who loved listening to Cold Play, taking walks on the beach and snacking on peanut butter dog biscuits.
We lived and played together a few months until he found a permanent home.
(Sadly, no one in New Orleans ever claimed Linus from the website, but he did up in a beautiful home in California with a loving family, pool and ocean view.)
I missed my “Li-guy” as I called him, but wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Volunteer. Donate. Give back. Pay it forward.
No one can do everything but everyone can do something.
If you’re anything like me, sometimes I don’t even go through with donating something like $5 because I think how could such a tiny amount make a difference?
Last week though, on National Coffee Day, instead of buying a fancy whipped, frappa something I sent $5 to the Humane Society who are actively working in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico to save animals after the hurricane’s and storms.
It didn’t feel like much, and I even debated sending anything, but then I realized if every one of my friends on social media did the same we’d contribute over $40,000. (Crazy, right?!)
It’s always a good idea to contribute and in the wake of the past few weeks there are a whole lot of people and animals in need of help.
As Helen Keller beautifully said, “Together we can do so much.”
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