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Darell Hammond

Darell Hammond

Posted: October 23, 2009 04:13 PM

Volunteers (Even Celebrities) Can Make a Difference

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Last night’s episode of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” was Ka-PERFECT!

KaBOOM! family and friends gathered around their televisions last night to view the newest episode of the NBC show “Parks and Recreation,” starring Saturday Night Live veteran Amy Poehler.  It was great fun to be able to see the work KaBOOM! does highlighted in such a hilarious episode, which fit into the ongoing storyline of the quest to turn an abandoned construction pit into a community park. A perfect fit for KaBOOM!

In case you missed it, the show’s main characters donated their time to a KaBOOM! playground build in the neighboring community of Eagleton.  While the build and the project manager, played by comedian Paul Scheer, were both created specifically for this episode, the writers certainly captured the spirit that fuels each of our builds – something that inspires volunteers to continue their great work and strive even harder to give back to their communities. 

This is precisely what the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) intends to do with its iParticipate campaign.  By bringing celebrities from television, movies, and music to the volunteer service movement, iParticipate aims to promote a new way of thinking about service and prompt millions of Americans to make volunteerism and community service a part of their daily lives.

To support iParticipate, EIF is working with the major broadcast networks to spotlight service through scripted programming, segments and PSAs during their national volunteer week, October 19-25. 

In my work with KaBOOM!, I interact with thousands of amazing volunteers each year.  These people – young and old, and from all parts of the socio-economic spectrum – have taken time out of their busy schedules to help bring light, joy and laughter to the children who need it the most.  They come out to build a playground and in the process, change the life of countless numbers of children.  No matter how many times I see it, I continue to be amazed. 

Growing up in a group home just outside of Chicago, I experienced first-hand how the kindness and generosity of a stranger can lift your spirits and inspire a passion so great that you can achieve previously unimaginable heights.  As a child, it was amazing to me that volunteers were taking the time to show the compassion that so many others hadn’t.  When they came to our door, they lit a special fire in the eyes of each child.  They were the celebrities in our lives. 

It is my hope that this unprecedented campaign will help to spur Americans across the nation to action.  It is up to all of us to take charge and make an impact in the communities in which we live.  Get to know your neighbors, make an effort to help care for common spaces in your neighborhood, or donate your time to someone less fortunate than yourself.  The small amount of effort and time that you put forth will make a huge difference in the lives of those you touch and your community. 


For ideas on how to get started volunteering your time, visit the iParticipate website.     


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