Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stars of the North - Volunteers, American Style 

September 12, I had the privilege of attending a Star of the North awards ceremony for constituents of MN's Second Congressional District. As Representative John Kline said, there are all kinds of people who find a need and out of caring and love, volunteer and find a solution. Because of the selfless acts of so many, his office established a program to honor many of these doers.

Awards were given to 43 people who had done something out of the ordinary, reached out to others or saved a life because of their calm thinking. Honorees included:

A four-year-old boy who saved his mother's life after she had a diabetic attack; he called 911 and forced her to eat Reese Peanut Butter cups to stabilize her sugar.

An 11 year old whose mother collapsed; he called 911 and then got his younger brother and sister into another room, loaded a DVD, told them to stay there; returned to his mom until paramedics arrived. (Both moms are fine.)

A high school girl who launched a drive for prom dresses for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Lakeville police who raised $50,000 for Special Olympics by jumping into a frozen Lake in January.

Multiple small groups that had fairs, benefit dinners, and other fetes to help families defray large medical expenses.

One woman donated a kidney to a complete stranger. Another child offered her hair to Locks of Love.

Another child has collected pop tops for the Ronald McDonald House.

A senior citizen reads to school children weekly.

Yes, I got an award for my four plus years of shipments to American soldiers in Iraq.

This giving attitude followed with actions is rare, period. In too many places on the planet, the government is the main source of help, not individual citizens. In 2006, a friend of mine had a young adult nephew from Norway visit him. They went to the Science Museum in St. Paul, a place staffed with many volunteers. His nephew asked what a "volunteer" was. My friend explained. The nephew replied, "Oh, we don't do that in Norway, the government takes care of all this." If we let our government take over too much of our society, we too will lose contact with our neighbor; we will lose the incentive and eventually the ability to help friends and strangers in need.

We need to remember: Part of what makes America exceptional are people like these honored tonight. It's these big and little actions that count. Our kind of thinking, generosity, just "do it" attitude is NOT universal but it IS American.

Labels: , ,