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United Way of Grundy County celebrates random acts and giving back

This year, Random Acts of Kindness Day is Monday. This is a day that individuals, groups and organizations, nationwide, are encouraged to perform acts of kindness. But why not make kindness the norm – everyday?

A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by kind people to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to make people happier. For some, an act of kindness could be just what they need at that moment to cheer them up. We might never know how our simple acts of kindness may have changed someone’s life, but we do know how it makes us feel. One simple act of kindness towards another gives us the power to change someone’s life and gives us joy in helping someone. So, what can you do to brighten someone’s day? Plenty. There are a variety of simple acts of kindness that anyone can do for others that do not cost anything, yet could be worth so much to someone else.

The opportunities for giving back are endless and leave a lasting positive affect for others. There are many ways to give back and help those in need. This includes donating money, giving of your time, or sharing your talent or skill. United Way of Grundy County helps to connect individuals, families and companies with opportunities to give back in our community.

Through the generosity of the donors and companies that support the United Way of Grundy County annually, we are able to grant funds for more than 50 vital programs and services in the community.

We help support programs from birth to death and everything in between. Programs include basic human needs, education, health, crisis intervention, transportation, youth, seniors, veterans and disaster relief.

No matter your passion, there is a program that our United Way supports from the funds we raise annually. Donations are received from individuals, families, employees at local businesses through payroll deductions, and corporate gifts and grants. These funds are then awarded through an annual community grant process to local nonprofit agencies that provide the direct service to those in need in our community.

The annual grants funded by the United Way of Grundy County help to fulfill basic needs, improve financial stability, help youth succeed, promote health and wellness, increase independence and self-sufficiency, and assist in disaster relief. Without the support from the community, our United Way would not be able to help improve lives through funding these vital programs.

Another great way to give back to the community and help those in need is to volunteer. Volunteers are a very important, effective and viable way to give back to the community. Whether it is helping one time, several times, or a lifetime: volunteering is a critical part of a nonprofit agency’s success. Volunteering has an economic impact on the community. Nonprofit organizations have limited financial resources. Volunteers assist them so their resources can focus on the programs and services they provide. There are many ways to volunteer in the community. There are group projects or individual volunteer roles. The type of volunteer opportunity varies as well.

Volunteers usually can find something that aligns with their passion, which is the most rewarding for them as well. Whether you want to volunteer at a specific organization, serve on a nonprofit board of directors, join a civic group, help organize an event or do a group project; there is a volunteer opportunity available.

Helping to make a difference in the community is a rewarding experience. The key to this is finding what you are passionate about and matching it with an opportunity in the community. United Way of Grundy County helps match people with opportunities available in the community. It is important to give children opportunities to give back to the community too.

If your family is involved in volunteering together in the community, then it comes as second nature to your children. If they see that you put a lot of value on assisting others then they will too. Children learn what a difference they can make in the lives of others and that what they do can change someone’s life for the better. Children who learn about giving back an early age are more likely to continue to give back into adulthood.

Our United Way will be helping children learn about giving back at this year’s Grundy County Chamber of Commerce Family Fest on Saturday at the Shabonna Middle School. Children will have an opportunity to color pictures for some of our community’s most vulnerable population. The pictures will be delivered to all the senior citizens that receive a delivered meal through our funded partner agency Community Nutrition Network’s Meals on Wheels Program.

For many of these seniors, the meal delivery driver may be the only interaction these seniors have with others throughout the day. Our goal is that the pictures that the children make will brighten the seniors’ day and that the children learn a valuable lesson about giving back to others and acts of kindness.

United Way of Grundy County has been providing support in the Grundy County community since 1946, by focusing on the building blocks for a good life: Education, Financial Stability and Health. For information about the United Way of Grundy County, call our office at 815-942-4430, email us at, visit the website at, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

• Karen Nall is the executive director of United Way Grundy County.

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