This past year, you showed us what it means to be caring, compassionate and capable by making your mark on the community--and the world!
To close 2016, more than 138,000 people across 48 states and 16 countries participated in Family Volunteer Day and the Joy Maker Challenge, helping to make their communities better through acts of service! Family Volunteer Day, sponsored by Disney, brought families together to do a variety of volunteer projects, including cleaning up school yards, delivering meals, visiting nursing homes and more! More than 28,000 people volunteered, showing it doesn't take a lot of time to make a big difference!
For example, the Uyleman family of Santa Clara, CA, who was one of our Family Volunteer day winners, decided to take action and help the homeless.
After seeing how much poverty there was on the streets of San Francisco, the Uyleman's decided to make a pledge to volunteer in their community every week. They serve at a soup kitchen and make care bags to give out to the homeless. Tanya Uyleman says her and her daughters love bringing a smile to people's faces, and volunteering had brought their own family closer together.
"Family Volunteer Day helped us become more excited to go out of the way to make a difference in the world and find more to do within our own community to bring love to others," Tanya said. "This experience has taught us that volunteering can be super fun!" You can see more about their volunteer experience here.
To continue giving back during the holiday season, the seventh annual Joy Maker Challenge, sponsored by Hasbro, kicked off just before Thanksgiving and ran through December 23. In just one month, more than 112,000 kids and teens spread joy through service!
One of this year's Joy Maker Challenge winners, a seventh grade Girl Scout troop from Oshkosh, WI, continued their four-years-running tradition of "adopting" a family from a local domestic violence shelter.
Each year, the girls receive a needs and wishes list for their adoptive family and budget a portion of the proceeds from their cookie sales profits to help provide warm winter clothing, home goods and Christmas presents. Jennifer Skinner, a parent of one of the scouts, said the girls ask to do this every year. "They enjoy helping others who don't have as much as they do and are truly starting their lives over." You can see some of the items they were able to donate here.
Congratulations to all our Family Volunteer Day and Joy Maker Challenge winners, and thank you to all the kids, teens and adults who participated in this year's campaigns. Your efforts helped make the holidays merry and bright for so many people!
To learn how you can join us this year and engage youth in service, you can find project guides for kids, project guides for teens, and save the date for our next campaign, Make Your Mark on Hunger, launching March 15!