The mushers and their dogs have been training for a long time before they get to the starting line of an Iditarod race. With supplies that must be purchased, organized, and sent to checkpoints before the race, sled bags be packed, with hopes, dreams, and plans in place, mushers will be heading to the starting line on the first Saturday in March each year. The restart is on the following day, Sunday. The race will end when the last musher reaches Nome.
Each musher has already faced challenges of training dogs, raising funds to pay for expenses, developing sponsors and partners, and putting all of their plans in place, long before they face the challenges of the race!
So it is with the Iditarod staff that works year round to stage the race. Volunteers, some of them who live in the lower 48 or other countries make plans months in advance to go to Alaska and help with volunteer jobs before the race, during, and after the race. Volunteers who live in Alaska, volunteer at a number of jobs throughout the entire year. This race would not happen without the many, many volunteers. We are very thankful for them because the volunteers are the heart, the soul, and a foundation to help make Iditarod happen!
While you are thinking about the challenges the mushers, dogs, the Iditarod staff, the volunteers, and even race fans face, I would like you to take a few minutes today to stop and to reflect on your own community. Is there a way that you can make a difference by giving a ‘paw’ to help out? I want you think about being a volunteer in your own community so that the challenges others face around you, can be less.
Now is the time for you to think about how you can volunteer and help make the world a better place in your own community. I’m sure if you sit down and come up with a brain stormed list, you can discover lots of ideas about what you and your classmates can do in your own school or community to show you care about others. Look around you! Think!
My challenge to you, Boys and Girls, is to come up with a class project in your own community.
Learn what it is like to help with a community project and take pride in your efforts. The project doesn’t have to be big—- because sometimes even small projects make a huge difference!
Here is one idea: Animal shelters are always in need of supplies. Gypsy, Sanka, Libby, and I have a special challenge for those of you who are interested in helping the pets in your communities to stay healthy. Research about your local shelter. Invite someone from the shelter to visit your classroom so you can learn more about the shelter. Discover what their special needs are and how you can help. Put a plan in action.
Do you need more ideas? Is there an organization in your community that raises funds to help needy families? Is there a food drive going on or does someone you know just need a helping hand? Would you brighten someone’s day by sending cards or putting on a program for the local retirement community? Could you make table decorations and send them to a local nursing or retirement home? Does the trash in your local park need to be picked up? Is there an organization in your community that could use a hand?
Take a look at your own community and do something to help out! Get howling about helping folks out! You’ve got a set of paws (hands and feet!) and a good head on your shoulders. Think of a plan and take action!
When your project is done, write to us and tell us what you did and why you did it. You can even send us a picture and we’ll put the picture and your story on the website.
Don’t just sit there, friends! Get your thinking caps on and come up with a project, any project that you know will help make a difference. Show your community the power behind the people who volunteer!
If each of us were to get involved in helping others, we can really brighten someone’s day and make the world a better place!
We can’t wait to hear about your projects! Join our challenge!
Start your project next week or next month. You could even start the project on the start day of the race and see if you can finish it before the last musher reaches Nome!
Good luck on your projects! Get out there and lend your paws for the cause in your community!
Lots of Tail Wags,