February 14 is Valentine’s Day. While tradition tells us it’s synonymous with getting (and receiving) flowers and candy, it’s really about showing that you care about people. To me, Valentine’s Day is about spreading the love to our community – and what better way to do that than by volunteering?

/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/dunk_393232.jpgThis past Friday, I spent time with more than 2,000 SAP employees, customers and basketball legends at NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service to help families in New Orleans. The league’s global community outreach initiative addressing social issues like education, youth and family development and health and wellness, NBA Cares has raised more than $230 million for charity, provided more than 2.8 million hours of hands-on service, and built more than 860 places where kids and families can live, learn and play.

For the second consecutive year during All Star Weekend, SAP participated in the event and organized a KABOOM! playground build (with Adidas) at KIPP New Orleans Leadership Primary School. Over 200 volunteers built and installed a brand new 3,500 sq. ft. playground for more than 700 students to enjoy!

One of our volunteer guests, a New Orleans local, was wowed by the impact volunteer projects (like the KABOOM! Build) is making on the lives of the residents of the 9th ward. “KIPP New Orleans Leadership Primary was totally gutted inside and had to be rebuilt [due to Hurricane Katrina]. The wounds of the hurricane are still present… [and we’ve] never fully recovered,” he remembered.  Projects like this playground build, are helping to heal those wounds. To borrow from the definition of a common basketball term, the All-Star Day of Service was the ultimate assist! What an amazing feeling!

The energy of the event was unstoppable. While everyone had a chance to speak, take pictures with, and get autographs from to their favorite basketball players, volunteers were focused on the task at hand. In fact, one volunteer commented, “enough Star Power… time to get back to work.” Talk about a slam dunk for SAP, the NBA and KIPP.

As the Volunteer Ambassador of this event for the past two years, I’m honored to work with so many individuals who are committed to making the world run better. I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day 2015, where I can help spread the love all over again! For me, the “V” in Valentine’s Day stands for Volunteering.

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