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Free Pizza For Stranded Canadian Motorists

A thousand or so motorists were stranded in British Columbia after heavy rainfall led to major flooding and mudslides cause highways to shut down. Local hotels and motels immediately filled, leaving no vacancy available for many of the people stuck due to the storm. This left those who could not find or afford a place to stay to live in their vehicles for days. Soon hunger and thirst became real concerns for many. That’s where a local pizza shop owner stepped up—with free pizza.

Rupinder and Dewan Davesar, owners of Hope Pizza Place, took matters into their own hands and began addressing the situation the best way they could. Left with only one working gas oven due to power outages, they fired it up and began cooking free pizza for the stranded motorists. They gathered a group of volunteers to assist them in their efforts to venture out in the rain to bring free pizza and other hot food to those in need of a meal. According to the National Post, Rupinder said “We could have made lots of money but we have other days to do that. We take the blessings from the people today. I think that will pay off in the future for us.”

The weather itself was a rare occurrence and called an “atmospheric river.” The amount of rainfall from it broke local records and initiated a response from the military to get aid to others. Helicopters were brought in to airlift people out of harm’s way. Teams were put together to help dig out vehicles buried by mudslides and to save any potentially buried victims. It was a slow process, and with over a thousand people stranded, concerns from the motorists became very real.

One woman, Angela Howard, was stranded with her two children in their vehicle. She had rigged up plastic bags outside the car to catch rain in order to provide the family with the basic necessity of water. Angela had to keep a close eye on her car’s gas in order to provide needed heat to keep her and her children warm from the cold. She recalled the experience, “They are getting scared. My heart breaks listening to my kids (ask) for water and food and I have nothing to provide for them.”

free pizza
Abandoned transport trucks are seen on the Trans-Canada Highway in a flooded area of Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 16, 2021. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP.

Another motorist, Melanie Forsythe, was driving home to Hope from Vancouver with a couple friends and ended up stranded for 18 hours before being helicoptered to safety. “We all had moments like, ‘Is this it? Is this the last time we’re going to see our kids?’ We were talking to our parents and our families, but it was just a scary situation,” she said of the situation.

The size and scope of the storm was massive and left a very dangerous situation. Considering all the risk, it was quite amazing of the Davesars and fellow volunteers to do what they did: not only cooking and giving away free pizza but risking the trips out to the stranded motorists. It’s another of countless examples of the lengths people will go to help others for no gain of their own. Voluntaryism is all around and happens every day. Some examples are extraordinary like the one set by the Davesar family, and the use of their pizza shop and local volunteers.

             

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Seattle Govt Orders Volunteers to Stop Giving Aid to Homeless

We Heart Seattle is a volunteer team that decided it was time to take action in addressing issues facing the homeless population in the city of Seattle. The efforts started off small. They were mostly aimed at picking up the large amounts of trash left by and around homeless settlements. The group claims to have picked up over 320,000 pounds of litter and garbage. They’ve also been able to get nearly 70 people the resources needed to get off the streets and turn things around. Unfortunately the city of Seattle does not approve of the group and their efforts and they have been told to stop giving aid to homeless people.

Andrea Suarez of We Heart Seattle got invited to a zoom meeting with Seattle Councilmember Dan Strauss and a number of other city leaders. Suarez said, “Having cleared more than 100,00 pounds of trash and housing at least five people from (Strauss’) district, I assumed the call would be to thank our volunteers and include us in further outreach efforts.”

stop giving aid to homeless
Friendly volunteers helping clean up their community. Image courtesy of We Heart Seattle.

Instead she was caught off-guard by the ambush, as she puts it, from the government. She was even told by REACH officials that her group’s efforts were “disruptive and confusing to the hard work of REACH and the Human Services Department has already been doing in Ballard Commons and Shilshole Avenue.” “I’m still asking myself, ‘when did volunteerism become disruptive?’” Suarez said in an interview with The Dori Monson Show.

The city’s main complaint was that the effort violated protocol and local laws on how camps should be handled and essentially destroyed. Suarez also points to union turf disputes between Seattle Parks and Seattle Public utilities about who picks up what trash from where. These disputes lead to the large accumulation of trash found in and around homeless encampments.

stop giving aid to homeless

Despite the city coming down on her and her group she has no plans on stopping the good work she is doing for the homeless of Seattle. “I’m going to keep volunteering.”, she said. Her efforts cost nothing from the state or taxpayers while the official preferred response costs millions and have managed to lead to very little assistance reaching those who need it.

This is far from the first time the state has ordered volunteers to stop giving aid to homeless people in need. There are countless stories every year about people being harassed, fined, and even facing jail time simply for helping others without going through the state and its bureaucracy.

We’ve highlighted a couple of these previously here at Voluntaryism In Action. One is a story about the government stalling food donations in the middle of winter. Another about a carpenter in Toronto who was building shelters for free for the homeless being told to stop what he was doing. 

We here at Voluntaryism In Action firmly believe the world would be a much better place if the state would simply get out of the way of the people, especially in their efforts to give aid to those who need it the most.

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Charity Vending Machines

Header Image Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sponsoring a unique twist on holiday gift-giving: charity vending machines. The Utah-based church has a yearly initiative to “Light the World” during the holiday season, and this year’s theme is “Light the World with Love.” The big red “Giving Machines” are an effort to bring light and hope directly to people in need.

The charity vending machines operate like a standard vending machine, but people can select a charitable item from dozens of local and global charity organizations.  Global charities include CARE, Church World Service, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF and WaterAid. More than 40 local charity sponsors are also participating.

The charity items include clean water, produce, meals, cooking supplies, eyeglasses, vaccines, skills training and educational supplies. There are even livestock options — like goats, pigs and chickens.

Donors choose items at the Giving Machine in Denver, Colorado, on November 3, 2021. Image copyright by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Elder Vaiangina Sikahema, a leader in the church, helped his granddaughter buy chickens to go to a family in need in another country. He said it was an easy first choice. “As a boy in Tonga, we ate chicken for Christmas. So I figured, someone could get three chickens — and it’s a good price, too,” he said.

The charity vending machines have raised almost $9 million for charities since they first were unveiled in 2017. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to each charity, with the Church covering all expenses, including credit card transaction fees. Since November, the red “Giving Machines” have been available in 10 cities in the US, from California to New York and even Hawaii:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada – Downtown Summerlin Mall
  • Nashville, Tennessee – Bridgestone Arena
  • Honolulu, Hawaii – Pearlridge Center
  • Orem, Utah – University Place
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – City Creek Center
  • Oakland, California – Temple Hill
  • Gilbert, Arizona – Water Tower Plaza
  • Denver, Colorado – Writer Square
  • Kansas City, Missouri – Crown Center
  • New York, New York – Rockefeller Center 
charity vending machines
Kansas City Chiefs mascot KC Wolf helps open the Giving Machine at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov. 30, 2021. Image Credit: Valerie Anderson for Church News

Elder Sikahema says that the spirit of giving is at the very essence of what it means to Latter-day Saints to be a Christian. The charity vending machines are available until 1 Jan 2022. If you live near one, consider giving it a try. After all, when people help each other voluntarily, everyone is better off.

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AirBnB Will House Afghan Refugees

The Taliban is consolidating its hold on Afghanistan after 20 years of failed American intervention. Meanwhile, refugees continue to flee in hope of a better life elsewhere. The total numbers could be 400,000 to up to two million refugees. But where the government has continuously and catastrophically failed, charities and generous companies are stepping up. Particularly noteworthy is AirBnB, whose Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky said that AirBnB will house Afghan refugees at no cost.

“Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free,” Chesky wrote on Twitter. “While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts. If you’re willing to host a refugee family, reach out and I’ll connect you with the right people here to make it happen!”

This is especially interesting since Airbnb has been regularly demonized by everyone from conservatives to socialists, and blamed for everything from rising property prices to gentrification. If the people who think they know what’s best had their way, Airbnb would not exist or would be regulated into obscurity. But the loss wouldn’t have just been the valuable service that Airbnb provides. Without Airbnb, 20,000 refugees would still have no place to live.

AirBnB Will House Afghan Refugees

Granted, housing 20,000 people is helpful, but won’t solve the refugee crisis, let alone the crisis of those who remain in Afghanistan. But if the past 20 years in Afghanistan have taught anything, it should be that the government and those who pretend to know best usually don’t. When the state and its appointed experts try to force their will on society, the results are never good.

When one central authority imposes their will on everyone, people can’t respond to everyday life—let alone to crises—in ways that are appropriate for themselves and their situations. In contrast, when people are free then there are millions of potential solutions. The government and their experts had their way with Afghanistan, and now the country is shattered and hundreds of thousands are fleeing. They had their way with the COVID crisis, and millions of lives were shattered. If they had had their way with Airbnb, the current crisis would have one less solution. It’s one more reason to get the government out of the economy

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Garage Food Pantry Project by Vermin Supreme Institute

Chris Rogers of the Vermin Supreme Institute, a 501c4 organization based out of Texas, is leading the way for a new food pantry project. Rogers recently started a new “Garage Food Pantry” project.

Currently he is running it out of his personal garage every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month as a trial run. He’s also doing this to personally see what will be needed for the project to successfully grow. The main goal is to have one set up within walking distance of every urban community, granting easy access to millions of people in need. To ensure their success and accessibility of food and items needed they would be set up as a network. Allowing nearby garage pantries to help each other maintain necessary supplies.

In Rogers’ opinion, the biggest difference between the garage food pantry project and other pantries is its goal of being 100% privately run, meaning there would be no state funding and no tax breaks taken. There would also be no requirements for those who come to shop at the garage pantry. No names, reasons, or inquiries about why the people who show up are there. People in the community who need assistance would show up, get a basket, and then proceed to shop for their needs and/or wants.

garage food pantry
Cally Rogers is ready to help those in need with her garage food pantry. Image credit: Chris Rogers

It’s been quite a hit within Rogers’ community. He believes that the neighbors knowing who is running it helps encourage them to participate and contribute to the success of the pantry. The immediate sense of community is making a decided impact on their ability to do what the community needs.

Rogers has also noted that many who have come for assistance have also shown up to help improve the pantry. Turning it more into a mutual-aid situation as opposed to a basic charity operation. For example, one couple started coming to his garage pantry regularly due to it being within walking distance, whereas before they would have to travel miles to get to one. They’ve also donated a significant portion of unneeded food from the other pantry that was given to them in pre-made packages. A man who has been living out of his car mentioned how impactful stocking can openers is for the homeless who may be in need of canned goods but don’t have a way to utilize them otherwise.

Overall, Chris Rogers believes the trial run for this outstanding voluntary solution of getting food to those who need it has been a raging success—from many helping stock the pantry after receiving help themselves, to neighbors volunteering to work and assist the pantry in other ways. From what he’s seen, there’s not only enough food to bring this to every community but also enough will from people who just want to help others.

All in all, this brilliant idea of the garage food pantry project has all the tools and love behind it to make a real impact on people’s lives, and show countless people that there is always a better way than looking to the state for help. That voluntary aid is not only preferable, but feasible.

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Unmasking the Face Cloths

We’ve all heard it before: “Masks are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19!” Or sometimes they say “Masks are for protecting others!” Or sometimes it’s for protecting the wearer. But despite flip-flopping recommendations from the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the WHO, and others, anyone who questions the masks is immediately denounced as a “science denier.”

But is the scientific evidence and data supporting the wearing of masks really as airtight as government and mainstream media propagandists want it to be? The truth is that despite (presumably) well-meaning recommendations from the CDC and others, the evidence does not support their assertions about masks. Taking an honest look at the research is enough for unmasking the face cloths.

Research regarding the efficacy of the cloth face coverings that are typically used as masks is far from conclusive. In 2013, Chugtai et al showed that the evidence did not demonstrate that cloth masks stop the transmission of respiratory disease. Things did not improve with time. In 2020, Jain et al published a literature review concluding that face cloths did not protect health care workers, but maybe they could reduce infections in the general population as a last resort.

Not everyone was so generous—Dr Hardy wrote a review article in 2016 concluding that although they are intended to prevent against airborne infections, “face masks are incapable of providing such a level of protection.” Incidentally, that article was removed in 2020—not because it violated scientific principles or had been disproved, but because it “is no longer relevant in our current climate.” Unfortunately for the censors but fortunately for people who like science, the article is still available at archive.org. But sadly, a similar fate has met many scientists who have tried unmasking the face cloths.

Some studies do show a small decrease in infections with mask use, such as Larson et al who found that “there was no detectable additional benefit of hand sanitizer or face masks over targeted education on overall rates of [upper respiratory infections], but mask wearing was associated with reduced secondary transmission.” Some studies show that masks have no effect at all, and others even show an increase in infections with the face cloths.

If that doesn’t seem at all like the “settled science” preached by the media and governments, you’re right. As Perski et al stated in a May 2020 evidence analysis: “Available evidence from [randomized controlled trials] is equivocal as to whether or not wearing face masks in community settings results in a reduction in clinically- or laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections.”

Generally, studies that purport to show the effectiveness of masks are conducted by measuring the filtering capacity of the mask in a lab. But randomized controlled trials conducted in real-world situations, such as this one, this one, and this one, usually show little or no practical effect of masks or face cloths in reducing infection rates.

Research has also shown that face masks become increasingly ineffective the longer they are worn. Kelkar et al showed that after 2.5 hours a person wearing a mask is actually shedding more infectious particles than they were before donning the mask. The only large randomized controlled trial to examine mask use in the COVID-19 setting found an insignificant 0.3% difference in infection rate between people who did and did not wear masks.

The information used to support mask mandates during COVID-19 has been of remarkably poor quality. For instance, a 2020 report from the CDC claims that mask mandates are associated with a 0.5-1.8 percentage point decrease in the growth rate of new cases. But in addition to this being of dubious clinical significance, the CDC did not control for other variables or examine the growth rate in areas without mask mandates. This means that the report cannot be used to draw the conclusion that mask mandates cause decreased infection rates.

Another CDC report examined data from Delaware in March-June 2020 and concluded that the state’s mask mandates and stay-at-home orders had contributed to an 82% reduction in COVID incidence. Again there was no control, so the CDC is assuming—not demonstrating—that the mandates account for the reduction. Also, the report excluded data from after June, when there were several large spikes in COVID cases in Delaware, despite the continued presence of the mandates.

unmasking the face cloths
Source: Covid Tracking Project – 7 Say Avg, Twitter @ianmSC

Another CDC report in February 2021 examined 10 states and had similar findings—and similar flaws (see below). Not to mention the inherent bias: isn’t it convenient that a government agency supported by government money found that the government’s measures were effective! These flaws are the rule rather than the exception in information that claims to support mask mandates.

unmasking the face cloths

When comparisons are made between COVID cases and/or deaths in areas with mask mandates and areas without them, there is no clear correlation (see below). Additionally, data show that compliance with mask mandates was been at 80-90% during the worst waves of the pandemic in autumn 2020, so the ineffectiveness of mask mandates cannot reasonably be blamed on noncompliance.

unmasking the face cloths

If the government, corporations, and hospitals are going to force you to wear a face cloth, there should be clear and unequivocal evidence that significant harm will occur if you don’t. Such evidence does not exist.

In fact, there is a large body of evidence, both research and raw data, which shows that masks are not effective at reducing respiratory disease rates in a population. Asymptomatic spread—a large driver behind the original push for face cloth mandates—has been shown to happen at a rate of <1% even among people living in the same house (i.e. not “social distancing”).  

When it comes to a straight examination of the numbers, it’s hard to beat Tom Woods and Ian Miller. Tom Woods’ COVID Charts Quiz makes clear that there is not any correlation between wearing masks and COVID-19 infections or deaths. Ian Miller has made amazing charts and articles documenting how the facts do not match the mainstream narrative on masks.

The idea that you might harm someone by not wearing a mask involves multiple theoretical possibilities: IF you come in contact with the virus, and IF it infected you, and IF that was an asymptomatic infection (you’d be staying home if you were sick, of course), and IF it was transmitted to another person, and IF it infected them despite them wearing a mask or being vaccinated (if they chose to), then there could be harm. Many of these “ifs” have a <1% chance of actually occurring.

When it comes to mask mandates in private businesses, there’s often the attitude that they can do what they like. It’s a private company, after all. But it’s a basic tenet of ethics that informed consent is necessary for a choice to be legitimate. When information is deliberately withheld, facts are distorted, and opposing viewpoints censored, the choice cannot be considered fully voluntary—it’s been engineered by those who control the information.

A person who is afraid of COVID-19 (or ANY disease) has no right to mitigate their fear by controlling your body, clothing, entertainment, or employment. The burden of proof cannot be on those who are attempting to live a normal life, but on those who want to restrict them. If face cloths work, there should be strong and clear evidence of it, and there is not. Belief in face cloths is just that: belief, or faith—and it is not a faith that you or I should be forced to participate in. 

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Hawaii Teenager Recycles for Charity

This Hawaii teenager recycles for charity.

Thirteen-year-old Genshu Price was recycling bottles and cans to save for his college education. He was so successful that he decided to expand his recycling to help others, Hawaii News Now reports.

“After a while we figured that we could branch it off and make it for other students. That way it can be bigger,” he said. “It could help so many people.” He started collecting even more bottles and cans, even preemptively asking people visiting Oahu’s sunny beaches if they were done with their drinks.

Since he started, he and his family have collected more than 100,000 recyclables. Mainstream news outlets have shared his story all over the country. Businesses and schools have chipped in by setting up recycle bins to collect cans for Price’s project.

The most bottles and cans have come from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s cleanups, and from his drop-off depots at King Intermediate, Mililani Uka Elementary, Kualoa Ranch, and other spots. “Within those six months we’ve recycled at least 5,000 pounds,” Genshu said.

The charity, spearheaded by Price, has been officially organized as Bottles 4 College. Their goal is to “create a system where we are collecting at least 2-4 million recyclable cans and bottles annually in order to be able to fund college tuition scholarships for 1-2 Hawaii students annually.”

That’s an ambitious goal, since for academic year 2020-2021, the average tuition & fees for colleges in Hawaii is $5,020 for in-state students and $18,621 for out-of-state students. But the example of Genshu Price and his family shows that voluntary charity can make a real difference in people’s lives. It’s something that we know and live by at Voluntaryism In Action, and as this Hawaii teenager recycles for charity he shows that people can help each other without the force of the government.

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Medical Debt for New Mexico Voluntarily Paid By Church

A single church in New Mexico voluntarily relieved the medical debt for families of the entire state and more. St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe helped pay off over 1.3 million dollars of the medical debt left to over 780 different families, thus paying off what they claim to be the entire state of New Mexico’s available medical debt, reports the Episcopal News Service.

Not only were they able to raise enough through its members to help those in New Mexico they also paid off all available medical debt in multiple counties in Arizona as well. In total the church was able to relieve accessible medical debt for every family in New Mexico as well as the Apache, Gila, Graham, Mohave, and Navajo counties in Arizona.

St. Bede’s was able to do this through personal donations to the church and by partnering up with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt. RIP Medical Debt is focused on reaching out to families with medical debt and are severely below the established poverty line. They also seek out families dealing with insolvency. St. Bede’s partnership with the non-profit was a major factor in being able to make such a large and impactful act of voluntary charity.

RIP Medical Debt operates like collection agencies in that it will acquire the medical debt of people for pennies on the dollar. So while the church raised just over 15,000 dollars, that $15,000 was able to pay off over 1.3 million dollars of available debt thanks to the partnership with RIP Medical Debt. Each family whose debt was paid will receive a letter informing them that their debt is paid and part of the letter will be stating, “St. Bede’s Episcopal Church has paid off the medical debt you have been struggling with for the past number of years. No strings attached.”

medical debt
St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, NM. Image credit: Google Maps

Reverend Catherine Volland of St. Bede’s was quoted saying, “I don’t know if this parish has ever funded a program with such a great impact. We were able to do it because every week we set aside 10% of donations to the church for outreach. Prioritizing service to others is our gospel imperative.” Quite amazing what a single group can do for others when given the chance to do so.

Many claim that churches need to be taxed, but many of those critics fail to realize the harm it would cause to smaller churches who are voluntary funded by charitable donation. Churches who often do more in their community than the state ever could and do so without coercion.  Who knows what would have eventually happened to these hundreds of families dealing with their medical debt if the church was taxed as many demand?

An anonymous recipient of this help replied to the unexpected and selfless act by saying, “I was having a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to pay all this amount of money and it’s not been easy finding a job especially when you have two kids and with this pandemic going on. It has really been a very hard year for me and for everyone. I would love to thank personally that special person that helped me with my account. I am so thankful and I just want to say God bless you always.”

St. Bede’s and RIP Medical Debt show what people are capable of doing for others of their own free will and free of government coercion. This story is a shining example of voluntaryism in action.

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Food Truck Owner Donates Meals To People In Need

Sarah Manuel is no ordinary person–this food truck owner donates meals to people in need.

Sarah Manuel, food truck owner of Streatery, has decided to make it her mission to give back to her community by donating meals to people in need due to the government response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Manuel is on her fourth season running Streatery, and one thing that has never sat right with her is the amount of food that gets wasted in the industry. On top of that waste, she saw people suffer and facing hunger due to the government’s response to the pandemic.

The Havre Daily News reports that Manuel made the decision to do something about both issues, beginning her frozen meals program immediately after government lockdowns began. “I started this a year ago, when Covid set in, that was when we launched our line of freezer meals which we now sell at Bear Paw Meats. Some of that [food waste] is through the distributors, some of it’s at grocery stores, a lot of restaurants, and in the home. So I was trying to find a solution.”

The idea to help those in need and preserve food that would have otherwise been wasted started off small. “The way that we distribute is pretty low-key at this point. People just reach out to me, whether it’s an organization that has families, especially around the holidays, that was something we were doing to provide free meals for those families. I’ve also reached out to churches in the area and things of that nature to try to spread the word.”

To Manuel, it was the next logical step to gather support for this idea to help it grow. “I did everything on the GoFundMe platform, individuals who had a little extra money could donate to the GoFundMe. Then those funds were used to provide frozen meals for families who were maybe going through a tougher time financially.”

Food Truck Owner Donates
Sarah Manuel serves up some of her delicious food at Streatery. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The frozen meals program that Manuel started hasn’t just assisted struggling individuals and families but also food production businesses. Streatery is now helping support over 20 such businesses in Montana. She found herself with a lot of free time due to the pandemic and was able to use this to build the program up.

Catering is a large portion of her work and the lack of events due to government mandates left a hole in the usual business plan. She still had connections and the ability to acquire great local organic ingredients and used this to help others. While she was able to stay afloat during the peak of the lockdowns, she managed to support others as well through her ingenuity.

The process itself is rather simple while the results are profound. As explained by Manuel: “We have a food truck, but we also have a commercial prep kitchen separate from the food truck, and so we do all of our prep there. I have a lot of freezer space. So we make everything homemade and package it ourselves, freeze it, store it. Right now we’re just doing local delivery. So, we deliver to Bear Paw Meals in Havre and sell there. We also take orders on our website.”

Now with government restrictions on events decreasing, her food truck catering business has been able to build back up. Being able to cater weddings and major events again increases her ability to help others. Manuel is using her passion for food and her Streatery business to continue making her community a better place.

Manuel is running a fundraiser targeting food insecurity to continue addressing hunger and food waste. She is very excited about being able to expand her frozen meals program and enjoy events again.

Sarah Manuel has made a noticeable impact in her community by targeting a need she saw and could assist with. She voluntarily took the time and resources to find out how to best fix what she could for those around her. She and her business at Streatery have no plans to stop helping others anytime soon.

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Man Volunteers to Clean Up The Local Environment

Gus Vandermeeren was inspired to action when he saw an advertisement on TV concerning plastic pollution in the ocean. After seeing the commercial he said, “I sat there and thought ‘What the hell am I doing?’” So the 62 year-old computer engineer decided that there must be something he could do to clean up the local environment.

Since then he’s been spending his free time picking up trash on the side of road around the east Raleigh area. He has also taken the time to log his adventures, as he calls them, to document what he has done and where. He does this in a composition notebook he found while cleaning up the litter. He said, “ Pretty soon it became a passion and obsession. I have always had a feeling that I am not really happy unless I am being useful to society in some way.”

A little over a year later, WRAL reports that Vandermeen has picked up more than 2,000 trash bags of litter that he has come across during his adventures. Vandermeeren takes them all to the dump to be disposed of leaving the roads and earth cleaner. Now he has two dozen plus volunteers who come with him and help in his mission to clean up the absurd amount of litter. They joined him after seeing him in action and hearing about him on the NextDoor app.

Trent Parson is one of those who was inspired by Gus Vandermeeren and his work saying, “We all have to have a little bit of Gus inside of us.” Parson, 29, wishes that more people in his peer group and generation would develop the desire to help clean up that Gus has, specifically calling for Millenials to answer the call and do more to make the earth a cleaner and better place. “It’s really hard to get other people to be less of themselves. We have to make this world a better place for all of us.”

Gus Vandermeeren has now adopted two state roads in North Carolina through its Department of Transportation. He continues to do his work in the community knowing that its impact may not seem large but it truly makes a difference. “This is not a job for a perfectionist. Even if it gets really dirty again, it doesn’t change the fact that every piece of plastic I just picked up and put in my bag is never going to go in the creek somewhere [and] is never going to float out into the ocean somewhere.”

It’s amazing the impact just one man can have on his world and in their community. He saw an issue that he could take steps to correct and did so of his own accord, and in the process inspired dozens of others to do the same. Gus Vandermeeren and his accomplishment of collecting over 2,000 trash bags of litter is a nice story about how much you can do by leading by example and stepping up to the plate to address an issue rather than wait around for others to do so.

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