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On Wednesday, October 12th, I participated in Month of Service by creating lavender-scented heating pillows for cancer patients on the Palo Alto campus. Led by Lisa Penn and Liz, a HandsOn Bay Area (HOBA) representative, volunteers created over 300 lavender scented pillows. There were several stations in the room that created an assembly line to manufacture and assemble the pillows, ranging from infusing rice with the rich and soothing smell of lavender, to making cards with uplifting messages for patients and finally, packaging individual pillows with heating instructions and wrapping them with festive ribbons. I loved entering the building because the faint smell of lavender permeated Building 4 and as time went on, the scent got stronger as the volunteers worked.

The event was underway when I arrived, so I snuck into the pillow section,
where volunteers were packing scented rice into the socks and tying them tightly so that they can become the final product. I liked volunteering for this event because I know that these pillows will make some of the hardest times for patients undergoing treatment a little bit better because of the calming effects of the lavender.

Some of the other opportunities that I look forward to participating in include assembling care/hygiene kits for veterans and Stop Hunger Now, where volunteers helping to pack 10,000 vegetarian meals that will be given to schools and food insecure individuals in the developing world. One event that I’m currently participating in is virtual– letter writing to the sick, elderly, and those in the military. The virtual event runs until the end of the month so there’s still time to sign up and pen a letter or two to someone who needs your kind words. I chose to write to the military as it holds a special place in my heart as many of my family members have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. In speaking to some of the recipients, they expressed to me how appreciative they were of receiving these letters. This opportunity needs a lot more volunteers, and if writing to the military doesn’t necessarily peak your interest, you can also write to the sick or elderly. Any and all encouraging letters are appreciated.

SAP’s Month of Service has always been a special time of the year for me. Because of our busy work lives, the addition of new family members (a happy now 9-month-old son for me in addition to my boisterous 3 ½ year old son), and other life events, SAP gives employees time to get together and make an impact on the communities that we live in. Participating in MoS grants me the opportunity to meet a diverse range of colleagues and make new connections as we bond over the projects. I also get to see other colleagues that I don’t get to see as often, and of course, make an impact on whatever event that we’re participating in.

Whether it is to clean up a park or paint a mural for the hospital, there are many different opportunities that you can sign up for. One of the most impactful volunteer events that I recently participated in was volunteering to serve meals at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. Though it was a 2 hour shift, and my role was to stuff napkins and forks into cups to hand out to the folks coming through, many were appreciative of the time that we took out to help serve dinner. At the end of one shift we served over 500 meals!

If you have the time, sign up for a MoS project. I wish I could participate in them all, but there are only so many hours in the day, and work must go on. Happy MoS, and keep on volunteering.

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