Found this gem on facebook when a mutual friend commented on the note Raphael had written, and he graciously has allowed me to re-post it as part of our blog. Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and that it was filled with the messages expressed by Raphael. – Emily, IIA President
This blog post was written by Raphael Garcia. He is currently a junior at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, IL, and is just a normal student who loves to get involved. He is hoping to make a difference in any way possible.
Behind all the red roses, heart-shaped boxes filled with candy, and mushy valentines lies a much deeper meaning. Valentine’s Day is a day to truly express your love for others and the world around you. We were all born to love and be loved. It’s a time to show love for others in need of it including: the sick, the injured, the poor, the lonely, the elderly, and many others in need. Valentine’s Day is not about the receiving, but rather the giving. On this special day we celebrate love, not the romantic Hallmark love, but rather the love that makes up each and every one of us. Behind all of our roles, personalities, and differences lies a living, loving being. We’ve all got love, it’s just a matter of what we do with it.Celebrate Valentine’s Day the right way by:
- volunteering at a local soup kitchen, animal shelter, or favorite nonprofit organization, or even offer to tutor a child in need of your help. Love can be shared in many different ways.
- looking for Valentine’s Day-themed fundraisers that support local nonprofit organizations or by throwing your own party, and donating the proceeds to charity. If you’re taking that special someone out for a pricey dinner, why not have your bill go to a good cause?
- sending love letters not just to your sweetheart, but to people that are doing good things for the world. Tell them why you respect and appreciate their work, and that they really do make a difference. A simple thank you can mean the world to someone.
- delivering homemade Valentine’s Day cards to the sick, the elderly, the homeless, and their caregivers. Call a local children’s hospital, nursing home, domestic violence or homeless shelter and ask how you can donate an hour or two of your time. Someone out there could really use your time.
- giving gifts that give. There are dozens of charitable shopping sites and online nonprofit stores selling gifts for a good cause.
- taking account for those who serve you. Think of all those people who make your life easier and more convenient every single day. give them a hug, a sincere smile, or just a smiple thank you. Showing your appreciation is a great way of sharing love.
- getting a head start on spring-cleaning and donating clothes, toys, furniture, and household items to nonprofit organizations accepting them. Don’t take what you have for granted because there are others out there who have it worst.
- not wasting anything for the day. Show mother nature that you care by reusing, reducing, and recycling. The Earth needs our love too.
- signing up for a charity walk or run. Not only are you getting a great exercise, but you are helping someone out there who is less fortunate then you are.
- choosing a restaurant that sources its meat from sustainable, humanely treated and harvested animals & farms. Show the animals some love too.
- continuing to support disaster relief. There are still many out there struggling from hurricanes, earthquakes, and such and we can’t forget about them.
February 14-20th is Random Acts of Kindness Week. What can you do? Pay for a coffee, lunch, or a toll for the person behind you in line. Tape the exact change for a soda to a vending machine. Send cards with joyful messages to strangers. Collect canned goods for a food bank. Shovel a neighbor’s driveway, or babysit a friend’s child, for free. http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
Valentine’s Day to me is about reaching out to others, healing the world, making it a better place for you, me, and the entire human race.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWf-eARnf6U
Valentine’s Day is about accepting each others differences and looking beyond the imperfections of the world and each other. To me love is knowing all about someone, and still wanting to be with them more than any other person, love is trusting them enough to tell them everything about yourself, including the things you might be ashamed of, love is feeling comfortable and safe with someone, but still getting weak knees when they walk into a room and smile at you. Valentine’s Day is day where you can be someones shoulder and be their armor guiding them into a blissful life. My Valentine’s Day wish for ya’ll is comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, and love to complete your life.