Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul: Stories to Celebrate the Spirit of Courage, Caring and Community

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At times, we may feel overwhelmed by a complex world, yet we know that deep within each one of us lies the ability to step up and care for those in need. Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul has the power to tap into this natural capability. These stories from everyday people in the United States and around the globe will inspire you to embrace all the good you can do with just the slightest effort. Or perhaps you're already a member of the volunteer world and simply want to wrap your eyes around the most ...
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Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul: Stories to Celebrate the Spirit of Courage, Caring and Community

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At times, we may feel overwhelmed by a complex world, yet we know that deep within each one of us lies the ability to step up and care for those in need. Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul has the power to tap into this natural capability. These stories from everyday people in the United States and around the globe will inspire you to embrace all the good you can do with just the slightest effort. Or perhaps you're already a member of the volunteer world and simply want to wrap your eyes around the most poignant stories from the front lines of fellow givers. Regardless of your station in life, this heartfelt collection captures the defining moment of touching kindness that can transcend into developing your own personal growth and spiritual awareness. Whether you are a volunteer or not, Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul will leave an indelible imprint on your heart. We urge you to find that story that will compel you to give to the world -- or continue giving -- all the good you can do!
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to authors Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Arline McGraw Oberst, John T. Boal and Tom and Laura Lagana, over 200 million people around the world offer their time to volunteering. Dozens of them tell their stories in Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul: Stories to Celebrate the Spirit of Courage, Caring and Community. Norma Reedy tells of the Big Brother volunteer who befriended her son, who had been recently diagnosed with leukemia, while Rotary International volunteer Carolyn E. Jones explains how she raised money for cancer patients in Russia. Most entries end with information on how readers can become involved in the volunteering organization described. (July 15) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jack Canfield is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Mark Victor Hansen is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.


While Jack Canfield himself may not necessarily be a household name, it's very likely that you have heard of his famed Chicken Soup for the Soul series and nearly as likely that you have at least one of them sitting on your very own bookshelf! Having got his start as an inspirational speaker, Canfield's own story is nothing less than inspirational.

Jack Canfield had been traveling around delivering key note speeches and organizing workshops to help audiences build their self-esteem and maximize their potential when he had an in-flight brainstorm that changed his life. While flying home from a gig, Canfield realized that the very same advice he had been delivering during his in-person addresses could potentially form the basis of a book. Canfield used inspirational stories he'd gleaned over the years as the basis of his speeches, and he thought it would be a terrific idea to gather together 101 inspirational stories and anthologize them in a single volume. Upon returning home, Canfield approached friend and author Mark Victor Hansen about his concept. Hansen agreed it was a great idea, and the two men set about finding a publisher. Believe it or not, the mega-selling series was not an easy sell to publishers. "We were rejected by 123 publishers all told," Canfield told "The first time we went to New York, we visited with about a dozen publishers in a two day period with our agent, and nobody wanted it. They all said it was a stupid title, that nobody bought collections of short stories, that there was no edge -- no sex, no violence. Why would anyone read it?"

Canfield wisely practiced what he preached -- and persisted. Ultimately, he and Hansen sold the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book to a small press based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, called Health Communications. The rest, as they say, is history. There are currently 80 million copies of the Chicken Soup books in print, with subjects as varied as Chicken Soup For the Horse Lover's Soul and Chicken Soup For the Prisoner's Soul. Canfield and Hansen ranked as the top-selling authors of 1997 and are multiple New York Times bestsellers. Most important of all, the inspirational stories they have gathered in their many volumes have improved the lives of countless readers.

This year, expect to see Canfield's name gracing the covers of such titles as Chicken Soup For the Scrapbooker's Soul, Chicken Soup For the Mother and Son Soul, and Chicken Soup For the African American Woman's Soul. He and Hansen have also launched the all-new "Healthy Living" series and 8 titles in that series have already been released this year. There is also the fascinating You've GOT to Read This Book!, in which Canfield compiles personal accounts by 55 people each discussing a book that has changed his or her life. The most compelling of these may be the story of young entrepreneur Farrah Gray, who read Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success at the age of 11 and made his first million dollars at the age of 14!

With no sign of slowing down, Canfield continues to be an inspiration to millions, who fortunately refused to give up when it seemed as though he would never even get his first book published. "Mark and I are big believers in perseverance," he said. "If you have a vision and a life purpose, and you believe in it, then you do not let external events tell you what is so. You follow your internal guidance and follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell used to say."

Good To Know

Canfield is the founder of two California based self-esteem programs, "Self-Esteem Seminars" in Santa Barbara and "The Foundation For Self Esteem" in Culver City.

Writing the first Chicken Soup book was a lot more daunting than Canfield expected. After the first three years of research, he and Mark Victor Hansen had only compiled 68 stories -- 33 tales shy of their goal of 101 stories.

Along with co-writing dozens of full-length books, Canfield also publishes a free biweekly newsletter called Success Strategies.

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Canfield:

"My inspiration for writing comes from my passion for teaching others how to live more effective lives. I started out as a history teacher in an all-black inner city high school in Chicago, graduated to a teacher trainer, then psychotherapist, then trainer of therapists, then large group transformational trainer and then a writer and keynote speaker. All along the way, my desire was to make a difference, to help people live more fulfilling lives. That is what I still do today. Most people don't know this but I was not a good writer in college. I got a C in composition. Nobody would have ever believed I would grow up to be a bestselling author."

"I play guitar, and I am learning to play the piano. I love movies and some TV shows. My favorites are Six Feet Under, Grey's Anatomy, House and Lost. I love to play Scrabble, poker and backgammon with my in-laws, nieces and nephews. We really get into it. I love to travel. I have been to 25 countries and try to add two or three new ones every year."

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    1. Hometown:
      Santa Barbara, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 19, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Worth, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

A Reason for Living

"What do you think of suicide?" asked the frail feminine voice on the other end of the line.

I didn't expect a suicide call at 8:59 in the morning, one minute before the Helpline Office opened. Usually suicide calls startled me from a sound sleep after midnight. My caller probably anticipated getting through to the office staff instead of a volunteer who was finishing a shift at home.

During our crisis training, I learned to listen, rather than respond with something flippant like, "I'm against it." I simply waited. The caller continued. As she talked, I checked the proper boxes on her profile sheet.

"I live in a nursing home in a nearby city," she said. "I'm seventy-six and . . . and I'm dying." Her fragile voice faded away as she struggled to catch her next breath. "I have cancer and emphysema. There's no hope that I'll recover. I don't want to burden my family any longer. I just want to die," she said as she burst into tears.

Although I'd answered the Helpline phones for several years, suicide calls still scared me. Life is precious. I was sure that there was no instance where I could condone suicide as a solution.

"Have you talked to anyone at the nursing home about this?" I inquired.

The caller responded, "When I mentioned suicide to one of the nurses here, she got scared and called my doctor, my family and my minister. Everybody rushed in but nobody . . . listened. So I phoned you." Once again, her weak voice trailed off for a few moments.

"I'm listening," I said softly.

"My husband's been gone for nine years now. When I tell them how much I miss him, they say they understand." She continued, "But they can't understand. When I speak of the pain, they promise to up my dose of medication. The medicine only makes me feel groggy." Stopping to cough, she resumed hesitantly, "I told them I'm ready to go home to God. They said suicide was a sin, so I promised I wouldn't think of killing myself again, but I do . . . all the time. I have no reason for living any longer."

Confused and searching for the right thing to say, I asked myself, What can I say to this sweet lady that will help her? Before, I never doubted for a second that suicide was wrong. However, I was disturbed to find myself sympathizing with her reasoning. Certainly the quality of her life would not improve.

I remembered a young man who had called one New Year's Eve-gun in hand. After we talked throughout that lonely night, he said he finally felt a ray of hope. What hope can I offer this distressed caller? I wondered.

I decided to stall for time. "Tell me about your family."

She talked lovingly of her children and grandchildren. They came to visit her often at the nursing home. She loved to see them but felt guilty for taking them away from their own families and activities.

Andrew, her rebellious middle child, had gotten especially close to her during her illness. When he first heard she was dying, he apologized for the times he'd been thoughtless during his young adult years.

As she talked, my mind raced. I thought back to when I was visiting my Grandma Florence in the hospital every day. One evening, just after returning home, I received a call. Grandma Florence had taken a turn for the worse, and they wanted me to come back immediately. As I sat by her bedside, silent tears spilled from my eyes. The nurse tried to console me by saying, "She's ready to die."

Angrily, I retorted, "But I'm not ready to let her die!" Grandma Florence died six weeks later. By then, I was ready to let her go. I was glad God had given me a little more time.

Maybe someone in my caller's life needs more time, I thought. I told her of my experience and said, "Perhaps God is giving someone in your family more time."

She was silent for a few moments before she mentioned Andrew again. "I'm glad I didn't die six months ago, although I'd considered suicide even then."

During our conversation, I learned that during the months after her diagnosis of cancer, Andrew, a skilled woodworker, made her a beautiful casket. Although she never doubted his love, he needed those months to show her just how much he cared about her. But now the casket was finished, and he had time to reconcile.

"Maybe God is allowing you to suffer a little longer for someone else in the family," I suggested.

"Yes, of course . . . it must be Sarah," she answered sadly.

I didn't remember her mentioning a Sarah. "Who is Sarah?" I inquired.

"Sarah is my granddaughter. She just gave birth to a stillborn baby. I'm so worried about her. Her loss seems overwhelming. Perhaps God knows that Sarah couldn't deal with another death right now."

As she talked, this sweet lady's voice grew a little stronger. From my training, I learned this is sometimes an indication that a person is beginning to see a ray of hope. My caller's hope came not from the prospect of her own life improving, but from her perception that God had a purpose for her life. He needed her help on Earth just a little longer.

Ellen Javernick

2000 Ellen Javernick.

You Got Another One, Joey!

I couldn't believe it. Of all the times for this to happen-a flat tire! But when is a good time? Not when you are wearing a suit and you have been traveling for nearly five hours, and, added to this bleak picture, nightfall is approaching. Wait! Did I mention I was on a country road?

There was only one thing to do. Call the local automobile association. Yeah, right. The cell phone I bought, for security and protection from moments like these, wasn't in range to call anyone. "No service," it said. No kidding! I thought.

I sat for a few minutes moaning and complaining. Then I began emptying my trunk so I could get at the tire and tools needed to get the job done. I carry a large, plastic container filled with what I call "just-in-case stuff." When I am training or speaking, I love to have props with me. I hate leaving anything home so I bring everything . . . "just in case."

Cars buzzed by me. A few beeped sarcastically. It was as if the horns were saying, "Ha, ha."

Darkness began to settle in, and it became more difficult to see. Thank goodness it was the tire on the passenger's side, away from the traffic-but that only made it more impossible to benefit from the headlights of passing cars.

Suddenly, a car pulled off the road behind me. In the blinding light, I saw a male figure approaching me.

"Hey, do you need any help?"

"Well, it certainly isn't easy doing this with a white dress shirt and suit on," I said sarcastically.

Then he stepped into the light. I was literally frightened. This young guy was dressed in black. Nearly everything imaginable was pierced and tattooed. His hair was cropped and poorly cut, and he wore leather bracelets with spikes on each wrist.

"How about I give you a hand?" he said.

"Well, I don't know . . . I think I can . . ."

"Come on, it will only take me a few minutes."

He took right over. While I watched him, I happened to look back at his car and noticed, for the first time, someone sitting in the passenger seat. That concerned me. I suddenly felt outnumbered. Thoughts of carjackings and robberies flashed through my mind. I really just wanted to get this over and survive the ordeal.

Then, without warning, it began to pour. The night sky had hidden the approaching clouds. It hit like a waterfall and made it impossible to finish changing the tire.

"Look, my friend, just stop what you're doing. I appreciate all your help. You'd better get going. I'll finish after the rain stops," I said.

"Let me help you put your stuff back in the trunk. It will get ruined," he insisted. "Then get in my car. We'll wait with you."

"No, really. I'll take care of everything," I said.

"You can't get in your car with the jack up like that. It will fall. Come on. Get in!" He grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the car. Crack! Boom! Lightning and thunder roared like a freight train. I jumped into his car. Oh, God, protect me, I prayed to myself.

Wet and tired, I settled into the back seat. Suddenly, a kindly, frail voice came from the front seat. "Are you all right?" a petite old woman asked as she turned around to face me.

"Yes, I am," I replied, greatly relieved at seeing the old woman there. I suspected she was his mom.

"My name is Beatrice, and this is my neighbor, Joey," she said. "He insisted on stopping when he saw you struggling with the tire."

"I am grateful for his help," I responded.

"Me, too," Beatrice laughed. "Joey takes me to visit my husband. We had to place him in a nursing home, and it's about thirty minutes away from my residence. So, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Joey and I have a date." With a childish grin she looked at Joey.

Joey's whimsical remark, "We're the remake of The Odd Couple," gave us all a good laugh.

"Joey, that's incredible what you do for her. I would never have guessed, well, you know . . . ," I stumbled with the words.

"I know. People who look like me don't do nice things," he said.

I was silent. I really felt uncomfortable. I never judge people by the way they dress, and I was angry with myself for being so foolish.

"Joey is a great kid. I'm not the only one he helps-he's also a volunteer at our church. He also works with the kids in the learning center at the low-income housing unit in our town," Beatrice added.

"I'm a tutor," Joey said modestly as he stared at my car.

I reflected for a few moments on what Joey said. He was right. What he wore on the outside was a reflection of the world as he saw it. What he wore on the inside was the spirit of giving, caring and loving the world from his point of view.

When the rain stopped, Joey and I changed the tire. I tried to offer him money, and he refused.

As we shook hands, I began to apologize for my stupidity. He said, "I experience that same reaction all the time. I actually thought about changing the way I look, but then I saw this as an opportunity to make a point. So I'll leave you with the same question that I ask everyone who takes time to know me. If Jesus returned tomorrow and walked among us again, would you recognize him by what he wore or by what he did?"

Joey walked back to his car. As they drove off, Beatrice was smiling and waving as she began to laugh again. I could almost hear her saying, "You got another one, Joey. You got another one."

Bob Perks

2000 Bob Perks

2002. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Arline McGraw Oberst, John T. Boal, Tom Lagana and Laura Lagana. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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Table of Contents

Volunteer's Creed Tom Krause xii

Introduction xiii

1 The Rewards of Volunteering

When Two or More Gather Maureen Murray 2

Something Worthwhile Tony Webb 6

The Sounds of Hope Cathryn Pearse Snyders 9

The Yellow Birds Karen Garrison 13

Keep Your Head Up Susana Herrera 17

How Many Grapes Does It Take? Natasha Friend 22

The Hug of a Child Victoria Harnish Benson 26

We've Got Mail Gary K. Farlow 29

With a Little Help from Her Friends Eve M. Haverfield 34

A Second Chance Jenna Cassell 38

Pegasus's Wings Vera Nicholas-Gervais 42

The Quilting Bee Joan Wester Anderson 46

Don't You Just Feel Like Singing? Terry Paulson, Ph.D. 50

2 Giving Back

Roberto's Last At-Bat John T. Boal 55

Hurricane Donna Arline McGraw Oberst 60

Beyond the Huddle Charlene Baldridge 64

A Cure for Restlessness Linda Jin Zou 68

Giving Something Back Wynell Glanton Britton 72

Daddy Bruce Randolph Pat Mendoza 76

Coats for Kosovo Debby Giusti 78

I'll Never Forget P. Christine Smith 81

3 Making a Difference

Dave Jamie Winship 89

A Touch of Love Kayte Fairfax 92

A Volunteer's Prayer Lois Clark Suddath 96

A Touch from Above Melanie Washington 97

Treasured Visits Rosemarie Riley 101

A Brief and Shining Moment George S. J. Anderson 106

The Lady with the Smiley Voice Diane Kelber 110

Big Sisterhood Beth Barrett 113

What's a Big Brother? Norma Reedy 117

Drawing Out the Truth Nate Klarfeld 121

A Reason for Living Ellen Javernick 125

4 New Appreciation

The Pillow Casey Crandall 131

A Twist of Fate Patsy Keech 133

A Tiny Denim Dress Jinny Pattison 137

Reunion LeAnn Thieman 139

The Magic Key David "Goose" Guzzetta 142

The Reluctant Den Leader Fran├žoise Inman 146

Volunteer's Lament Mary Drew Adams 150

Swinging for Respect Sheila A. Bolin 152

Just Obedience Charles W. Colson 155

5 Love and Kindness

You, Got Another One, Joey! Bob Perks 161

A Hug and a Kiss Mack Emmert as told to Tom Lagana 165

The Sign of the Rabbit Pamela B. Silverman 168

Grandmother's Gift Ruth Hancock 172

Her Spirit Lives On Santina Lonergan 176

A Child's Gift Pamela Strome-Merewether 179

One Step Ahead Denise Peebles 181

Thank Gawd fo' Y'all Chris Bibbo 185

The Children of Russia Carolyn E. Jones 189

Find That Child! Tammie L. Failmezger 193

A Friend for All Seasons David Games 196

My Brother, My Hero Nansie Chapman 201

Without a Word Nancy Blain 204

6 Defining Moments

Forgive Me, Davey Pooja Krishna 209

One Whale of a Volunteer Doc Blakely 214

Residuals from Roger Diane Rodecker 218

An Armful of Love Elaine L. Galit 223

Conversation with a Wise Guy Elizabeth T. Verbaas 226

Volunteer 101 Rusty Fischer 231

Sap to Seedling Tara Church 237

Saving Grace Rusty Fischer 240

The Silent Breakthrough Rod Delisle 244

It Only Takes a Few Dave Krause 247

7 A Matter of Perspective

Smashing Potato Chips Father Domenic Jose Roscioli 252

Christmas Presence Laura Lagana 255

The Eyes Have It Cynthia Polansky Gallagher 258

African Eyes Stephanie Sheen 262

No Batteries: No Survivors Candace F. Abbott 266

Coming Full Circle George M. Roth 270

Gentle Words Karen Zangerle 274

8 Overcoming Obstacles

He Taught Us to Love Arline McGraw Oberst 278

The Healing Power of Friendship Barb Mestler 281

Let the Games Begin! Margaret Buckingham 285

The Bread of Life Ellen Javernick 288

A Child's Voice Sarah Hawkins 291

The Real Treasure Holly Frederickson 295

One Determined Angel Dorothy Rose 298

If I Can Move I Can Win Carl Hammerschlag M.D 301

Ward C, Room 842 Sarah Ainslie 305

The Cry of a Woman's Heart Johnnie Ann Gaskill 310

Little Changes Elaine Ingalls Hogg 313

Hi, I'm Jane Sandra J. Bunch 316

9 On Wisdom

Thanks, Mom Liz Murad 322

Twenty-One Donna McDonnall 327

Bless Every Evelyn! Sally Fouhse 330

Synergetic Souls Malinda Carlile 333

Top Ten List of Things a Volunteer Should Know Donald Patrick Dunn 336

Who Is Jack Canfield? 340

Who Is Mark Victor Hansen? 341

Who Is Arline McGraw Oberst? 342

Who Is John T. Boal? 343

Who Is Tom Lagana? 344

Who Is Laura Lagana? 345

Contributors 346

Permissions 358

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    When I was looking for another book to read I like the books named CHICKEN SOUP because they have different stories in the book by different people that have written stories in the book . And I like the VOLUNTEER'S book written by the chicken soup . The name of the book that I like is CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE VOLUNTEER'S SOUL . And I have two other books that are by CHICKEN SOUP WRITTERS

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    Well received

    'Chicken Soup for the Volunteer Soul' was well received by our volunteers, and it has also touched many people's hearts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2002

    Packed with Touching Stories for Volunteers

    ¿Chicken Soup for the Volunteers Soul is a book that will touch the hearts of all who give of themselves to make another person's life better. What greater blessings could a person receive than the satisfaction of knowing that they made a difference in a less fortunate person's life? Each story will motivate the reader to be a more active part of their community and world.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2002

    This is Inspiration at it's Best

    ¿Chicken Soup for the Volunteers Soul is an inspiration to all of us, to get out there, get involved, and enrich our lives in the process!!!¿ Cindy Wilhite, RN

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2002

    Improve the Condition of Your Soul

    ¿Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul will show the value of giving of one's self. The reading of this book will be time well spent to improve the condition of your soul.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    Volunteer Today

    ¿Reading these inspiring stories in Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul is the answer to volunteerism. As you begin to see, hear and feel things differently, you will be motivated in to action. It happened to me.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    The Gift of Time

    Celebrating the pricelsss gift of time that volunteers give in a myriad of ways each day!Tom & Laura sought to celebrate the variety of ways others choose to be 'givers of time'....may the stories encourage us all to seek to find our special place as a volunteer for an hour, a day...or longer!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2002

    The Spirit of Courage, Caring and Community.

    Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul is the best book I have read of the Chicken Soup Books to date. Coming from a family of volunteers and being a volunteer myself, I found this book to be full of courage, caring, compassion, camaraderie, competency, catharsis, charity, charm, comfort and concern. This book caresses the soul and cheers the heart. I will cherish this book forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    An Enlightening Book

    It is good to find that in these days of bad news and never-ending tragedies, there are still so many wonderful and giving people. As a reviewer of these stories, I felt warmed to my soul and uplifted by these caring people. This is a great book to read for a real 'pick-me-up' , to restore your faith in mankind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    This book shares the secret rewards of volunteerism

    Reading the touching true stories in this collection reveals the true meaning of being a volunteer. Many facilities cannot function without faithful volunteers. The best 'perk' a volunteer gets is the great feeling looking into the eyes of the person receiving their visit or service.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2002

    Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!

    What a beautiful and inspiring book! When you feel that the world is going crazy and no one cares for their fellow man anymore, READ THIS BOOK! It is story after story of the immense impact each of us can make in the lives of others. One small step toward another is a giant leap forward for mankind!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2002

    The Volunteer Spirit

    Celebrate the spirit of volunteering.. the soul of connectivity. Person to person. Moment to moment. This addition to the Chicken Soup series advocates the adage: 'Somebody cannot help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.' Read it and let yourself explore the life changes you can create just through reaching out to those in need.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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