Rather than sending a fruit basket or a box of chocolates, a local business I know instead gives its clients a better community as its Christmas gift. Every year, that company selects a service project that benefits people right here at home. Its employees put forth their time, money, and skills to collectively support the chosen project. The firm sends an appropriately themed Christmas greeting to its clients to let them know what effort was undertaken on their behalf.

I love it.

I love that the year the company helped homeless people, the Christmas greeting was sent on a raggedy piece of cardboard to underscore the dire need for suitable shelter. I love that this year’s greeting took the form of an upscale menu, completely empty of food entries, to highlight the fact many people go hungry while others are feasting during the holidays. I love the fact that this company doesn’t just put in money, it puts in time. I love that the employees roll up their sleeves and get personal, often looking into the eyes of the people who need help. I love that they are working to solve problems in our own community. I love that they work with existing organizations; they don’t start a new charity and waste resources on overlapping administrative efforts. Most of all, I love that they care.

This year’s project touched my heart more than usual. Not only did the company undertake an annual service project, but it also found a way to extend that to others outside the company to help–and not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. It has created cans (you can also use your own) for people to take home and fill with change. People can take to full cans to a local bank to be deposited into an account that benefits our local food bank. This company hasn’t just helped; it has extended its reach by making it easy for others to help.

Making it easy. That’s the key to inciting involvement. The food bank has existed in my community as long as I can remember, but I’ve never thought about writing a check. For starters, I wouldn’t know where to send it–well, not at least without a little effort on my part. With a stack of cans sitting at the door of my local grocery store, and with clear and simple instructions printed right on the can, I no longer have an excuse. You’d better believe I have a can of my own.

When you want someone to play, you have to eliminate the hurdles. Don’t counter the excuses with debate. Make them irrelevant by making it easy.

BTW…if you want to learn more, visit www.changealifeproject.org.

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