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Giving a Little, Gaining A LOT! Feeding Your Spirit This Holiday Season

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This holiday, I feel like a little kid again (I haven't felt like this for a looong time). You know the feeling of excitement that overwhelms you when you get that amazing holiday surprise. But this time it's not about a gift. It's not even about the thoughtfulness that someone bestowed upon me that counts. Instead, it's about this amazing experience -- this intangible thing that happens when you help others help others. It all started as I opened my e-mail in box:

A WOW update to share with everyone right off the bat: As I write, I am grinning from ear to ear! Just got an email from Gayle Keck, the media spokesperson from the San Francisco Food Bank regarding a story my organization www.GoInspireGo.com produced this year about Phoebe, the 5-year-old girl who raised enough money to feed thousands of people in her community. Phenomenal Phoebe's goal was to raise $1,000, in the end, she raised 18 times that amount! According to the SF Food Bank, that's enough to cook a whopping 81,074 meals! Yes, that's right, 81,074 meals! All thanks to a five-year-old girl who wanted to do what she could to help feed the hungry in her community.

Here's an excerpt of the exciting e-mail:

Hi Toan:

Happy Holidays!
First off, I've got to tell you we just totaled up the donations we've gotten from people supporting Phoebe and her cause. It's up to $18,647!
So thanks again for everything you did to share Phoebe's story.

And many thanks to GIG for sharing Phoebe's story with the world!

Wishing you, your family and everyone on your team a very joyous holiday season - and a blockbuster 2010!!!

Big hugs,
Gayle

Here's the video in case you missed it -- Please share!

Whether you celebrate the holidays or not -- we hope you're spending some quality time connecting with your loved ones this season.

We also wanted you to think about something you and your family can do to help others as you're enjoying your family, food and having fun.

Thanks to Volunteer GIG'ster Ashley Lopez for being inspired to pick up a camera and document this heart warming holiday act of kindness -- Richard Valdez of San Jose, California, known as the "unlikely" Santa
made this Christmas a merrier one after seeing that a lot of families in need this holiday season. Check out what one truck driver did that has many families floored!

On another note I just got a call from a Go Inspire Go (GIG) viewer from San Jose. "Lee" told me that during every holiday season she sends a $300 check to City Team Ministries, a local charity that collects food and monetary donations to feed the hungry.

After sharing many of our GIG videos throughout the year, Lee would think about what she could do to help others. After months of thinking, she took action: she informed me that this year, GIG's vision -- Every person will be inspired to use their talents and resources to better someone's life or better their community -- moved her to do something. So, she and her co-workers went to the Costco and bought food and organized a free lunch. They asked for a suggested donation of five dollars. At the end of the lunch, they raised $313. So this year, Lee can add this to her original donation, which totals $613!

The goodness keeps on spreading. Lee tells me everyone was so excited about the idea, while mingling over the meal, everyone brainstormed more "lunches" in the coming months to raise money for local charities. Lee and her co-workers originally set out to feed dozens of hungry families in her community -- they didn't realize how this good deed would impact and connect them on so many levels. Now, this small act of kindness will continue to have a bigger impact for those in need as they continue these so-called "service-lunches."

Here's an excerpt from her e-mail:

Hi Everyone,
I would like to take this time to thank everyone for all your help and contributions, we were able to collect a total of $313 in donation to CitiTeam Ministries from the salad lunch buffet. I sent the letter and check this morning to CitiTeam.
This effort was inspired my friend who started the GoInspireGo website to help inspire people to go out and donate your time and/or money to others, especially in this stressful economic time and season. If you need inspiration this season please check out this website www.goinspirego.com.
Here's the CitiTeam website for you information. http://www.cityteam.org/sanjose/
Thank you,

Lee

Amazing stuff! This year has been especially rewarding for Go Inspire Go. One year ago, I was laid off from my TV reporting GIG in San Francisco. I asked myself a simple question that has had an immeasurable impact on my life (through the stories, lifelong friends I've created through this project) and on this journey of service. My gratitude list exceeded everything I could've dreamed for this project in the short nine months of its existence: Being featured on AOL, ABC's Good Morning America and Yahoo! and being asked by Arianna Huffington to blog about my passion -- to inspire people to take action.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, wrapping gifts and preparing dinners, please stop for a minute -- just one minute -- and take a deep breath and ask yourself: What can I do?

I promise you, if you seriously sit down and ask yourself this question and put your thoughts into action, your life -- your lens -- will change in ways you could have never dreamed. When you give a little, you gain a lot more than you'll ever imagine. No matter how little you have -- you'll realize how much you really have, especially the power to inspire, empower and uplift humanity. Happy holidays!

Simple steps to give this holiday season:

What can you do to make an impact on your community? Like Phoebe, Richard and Lee showed us, it doesn't have to be a BIG project and it doesn't entail donating a lot of money.

Here are some ideas:
•Before your holiday dinner, can you round up the family to cook and serve meals to the needy at a local homeless shelter? I bet your children will remember this experience more than any gift you'll give them.
•Gather your friends and sign up as a volunteer group at the Food Bank or your favorite charity and give your time to help someone who is in need.
•Ditch the Christmas gifts, instead, donate to a charity in your friends' and family's name.
•Ask around: Is there anyone who needs help in your neighborhood? Is there a kid who needs an old laptop you have lying around? Can you visit an elderly person just to say "Happy Holidays" and offer to mow the lawn.
•Check out our stories on our YouTube page and reach out to donate a few bucks or volunteer your time to their cause.
•Send stories or a donation to Go Inspire Go.

You can find out more about Toan Lam at http://www.goinspirego.com. Click on the YouTube link and check out the stories his team created, and videos created by viewers.
Contact Toan at: toanlam@goinspirego.com