By Elke Thoms
You can’t go back to 1776 and thank our Founding Fathers, but in between the firework-watching, face-stuffing, and red-white-and-blue-wearing mayhem this weekend, there are plenty of ways to say thank you by making a difference in your community.
1. Volunteer at a Parade
Embrace your inner-child and join a parade you’ve loved watching for years. Great Falls puts on a Little Patriot Parade and Main Parade that could always use extra hands. Erin Lobato, Director of Celebrate Great Falls, estimates that around 50 volunteers assist with Fourth of July events each year.
“[Volunteers] can be there early in the morning to help with the getting ready types of activities, or they can be right in the middle of things, and of course we always need people at the end to help clean everything up,” Lobato says. “By having our neighbors be the ones to put on events like this, it helps you realize what a special community it is and that you’re part of this community, both in being able to give back, and getting to know your neighbors.”
2. Donate Blood
Celebrate this heroic day by giving the gift of life. There will be an INOVA blood drive at the Great Falls Volunteer Fire Department on the fourth, from 8 a.m. – 1:30 p. m. Those who complete donor screening will receive a free t-shirt.
3. Participate in a 5K
Trying to keep that bikini body in shape? The Firecracker 5K begins in Reston Town Center at 8 a.m, in front of the Potomac River Running Store. Net proceeds from this event will support the programs of USO of Metropolitan Washington, which supports military members and their families. Run (or walk!) the 5K, enjoy live music and food, and bring pencil sharpeners and notebooks to donate to USO-Metro’s Operation Back to School program.
4. Write a Letter to a Soldier
Maybe your Fourth of July weekend is packed, and you simply don’t have time to do any of the above. Luckily, A Million Thanks collects letters and cards for military men and women year-round.
Another easy way to put a smile on someone’s face: a $25 donation to Operation USO Care Package sponsors one care package that deploying troops can have sent to their families once their deployment begins. Donate to show your appreciation for those who serve.