February 25, 2014

Super-Sizing Community Heroes with a Day of Giving

By Kala Shah

I can barely contain my excitement as I scurry around preparing for our big, upcoming Day of Giving event at Sun Valley School in San Rafael, Calif.

The dreams I had when I started the Go Inspire Go Community Heroes club a little over a year and a half ago are really starting to manifest in so many amazing and unexpected ways. I had hoped that I could offer a platform to contemplate about how lucky we are and perhaps get a few kids involved in some modest service projects.

The club has been meeting for 3½ semesters now, every other week over lunch break, during which we watch and discuss Go Inspire Go’s inspirational videos and brainstorm ways in which we can all give back -- no matter what our background or circumstance. These videos are touching, stirring, thought- and action-provoking. It is astounding the stories that Toan Lam has been able to produce with his band of loyal volunteers around the world.

These videos provide the spark for the Community Hero kids, and then we go out and DO things. And we’ve done a lot! Many successful collection drives for coats, clothes, household supplies, toys, gifts and books support several local non-profits (Canal Alliance, Next Generation Scholars, Adopt a Family, Marin Community Clinic) that are serving those in need here in Marin County (believe me, despite what you think, there are plenty of people in need here).

Every time I’ve put the word out to our awesome school community (with much help from my very supportive Parent Teacher Organization and school principal Julie Harris), the response has been overwhelming, Overflowing bins, checks, loose change, smiles, hugs and words of encouragement have kept me and the Community Heroes kids fueled and driven to want to do more.

Well, my hopes and dreams are coming alive. The seeds of compassion and empathy have really started to sprout. These kids are enthusiastic, excited and have monstrous and ever-growing hearts! Their aspirations are so big and broad that they’ve been pushing to do even more -- more bake sales, more fun projects to help others. I was beginning to wonder how we could possible do it all.

It’s funny how they’ve turned the tables on me -- THEY’RE driving ME to do more. So when I ran into my friend and fellow Sun Valley mom Ilene and she mentioned the Day of Giving a local Jewish Community Center conducts annually, we had an ah-ha moment. We could do this at our school! Take Community Heroes family-wide, school-wide and COMMUNITY-wide!

Fast forward several months and here we are preparing for five awesome community service activities around our town on Sunday, March 2, for a DAY OF GIVING. We’ll meet on campus to rally the troops over coffee and juice and inspirational videos, and then head out in teams for various projects. Each of these projects was inspired by a Go Inspire Go video:

* Cooking a hot lunch for Marin homeless families served by Homeward Bound of Marin, inspired by Jorge Munoz, Angel in Queens, N.Y.

* Gardening work party with Canal Alliance’s Community Garden, inspired by Hands on Bay Area Be the Change

* Making superhero capes for brave kids with cancer at Children's Hospital of Oakland (Calif.), inspired by Amy Pankratz, Wonder Capes, Sioux Falls, S.D.

* Tidying and beautifying our campus and local parks, inspired by Go Inspire Go’s blog about helping change the ocean litter problem

* Running multiple lemonade stands and bake sales around town to raise funds to cover expenses for all these great projects, inspired by Vivienne Harr, Make a Stand Lemonade

After we complete our projects, we’ll reconvene at school to share experiences over pizza. Doesn’t all that just sound amazing?! So excited!

Here are some pictures of the posters the kids made for the event. And from our sign-waving extravaganza at morning drop-off.








Stay tuned for more pictures, videos and for more inspirational stories that will come from what is sure to be a GREAT DAY!!

Watch out world, thanks to our LinkedIn for Good Social Innovation grant, we’re going to take this Community Heroes show on the road!

Take action:

1. Think about how to be the change in our own community. Be inspired by 5-year-old Phoebe Russell’s super-sized canned food drive.

2. Think twice about how much an impact a young person can make. Be inspired by 12-year-old Thomas Ponce, animal activist.

3. Start your own Community Heroes club at your child’s school. Stay tuned for more information soon on how or contact info@goinspirego.com.