Tallahassee Democrat
November 22, 2016
Chester W. Spellman, My View

This time of year, many of us reflect on the things for which we are grateful: family, friends, good health and meaningful work.

While Volunteer Florida continuously promotes volunteerism year-round, the holiday season is a time when many of us are acutely aware of how fortunate we are — and a time when many of us feel an intrinsic need to serve.

That’s why we’re excited about this year’s Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, Nov. 29, and the #BigBendGivesBack initiative.

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities. It provides a platform for people to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits, civic organizations and businesses, as well as families and individuals — to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

As Florida’s lead organization for service and volunteerism, Volunteer Florida is proud to work with our local partner, the Institute for Nonprofit and Innovation Excellence (INIE), to celebrate Giving Tuesday by actively building the capacity of local nonprofits.

One exciting way to accomplish this is through the 2016 #BigBendGivesBack campaign. On Giving Tuesday, as charities, families, businesses and community centers around the world come together to give and serve, Volunteer Florida and INIE will raise awareness of our local nonprofits through #BigBendGivesBack.

#BigBendGivesBack is a local resource and guide to regional nonprofits. This is an excellent way for individuals and families to connect with and support local nonprofit organizations, while making a difference in the lives of others during the holiday season.

Through #BigBendGivesBack, volunteers can choose from a wide variety of projects including preparing and serving holiday meals, donating food, clothing or gifts, helping to build homes, and decorating or wrapping presents for underserved children.

Whether it’s on Giving Tuesday or any time throughout the year, Volunteer Florida encourages citizens in the area to volunteer in their communities, invite their friends and families to join them, or provide financial support to their favorite local charities. Volunteers enrich our communities and help our state meet critical needs. Service connects us with our neighbors and provides a chance to use our skills for the common good.

For more information regarding #BigBendGivesBack and Giving Tuesday, visit bigbendgivesback.org.

Chester W. Spellman is the chief executive officer of Volunteer Florida. Contact him at 850-414-7400 or chester@volunteerflorida.org.

Enter the #UNselfie contest

Submit your #UNselfie for a chance to win a $500 grant from the Community Foundation of North Florida and $500 toward a direct mail fundraising campaign from Target Print & Mail for your favorite nonprofit organization.

Submission deadline is Monday. The public can vote on Giving Tuesday for their favorite UNselfie.

Learn more at Tallahassee.com/UNselfie.