Danecdotes: It's never the wrong time to pay it forward

Donating and volunteering is always a good thing

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“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

That quote is often attributed to Maya Angelou. I know it rings true, and I’m looking for opportunities to explore it further.

I have interviewed several charitable people who have told me that giving of themselves feels oddly selfish because of the overwhelmingly good feeling they get from volunteering their time and donating their resources to help others.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Lakes Area Food Shelf as officials from local churches — of all denominations — delivered carloads of food and goods donated by their parishioners. I was blown away by the sheer generosity of each church.

All told, thousands of pounds of food and tens of thousands of dollars were donated at a time when the price of food and fuel are nearing all-time highs.


It was a wonderful moment. You could see the gratitude on the faces of food shelf officials, as well as pride on the faces of local clergymen and women as they delivered their parishes’ donations.

It has really inspired me to look into giving back to my community more than I have in the past.

I try to give when possible and convenient. If I have cash around the holidays, you can bet some of it is going into the Salvation Army’s bucket. A handful of GoFundMe posts have seen dollars come in from me.

I’ve bought a few items where a portion of the cost goes to causes I support. Any time I purchase something and am asked if I want to round up the total as a donation to some charitable organization or pursuit, I always do it. What’s an extra 47 cents to me if it could go to helping someone or something?

That said, it has been a long time since I went out of my way to help my fellow person. I can use excuses like unconventional work hours, raising a small child and staying home during much of a recent pandemic, but none of those has stopped others from doing good in the community.

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Perhaps it is time to no longer let them stop me.

It may be time to look into where my help can be the most, well, helpful. I would encourage everyone reading this to do likewise.

When it comes to volunteering your time, there is no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. Let’s all try to help our community in any way that help is needed.


As President George H. W. Bush once said, “There could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.”


Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or . Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Opinion by Dan Determan
Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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