How Millions of Points of Light Will Change the World

"We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light." – President George H. W. Bush

(Kangsar /

Points of Light (POL) helps millions of volunteers change the world by mobilizing people to take action on causes that move them and by creating a culture of volunteerism that celebrates service.

The organization was shaped after the vision of 1,000 points of light shared by its founder former US President George HW Bush in his presidential inaugural speech in 1989.

"We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light…We all have something to give,” the senior Bush said.

Throughout his administration, he recognized more than 1,000 volunteers as points of light to demonstrate how a neighbor could help a neighbor. The same daily award is now administered by Points of Light. In a historic moment in 2017 that included all five former US presidents, Points of Light gave five awards to people for their volunteer efforts in disaster relief after a series of hurricanes struck the gulf coast.

Bush’s vision lives on through the organization that was founded in 1990 as an independent nonpartisan, nonprofit that encourages and empowers the spirit of service. Today, POL is the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer services locally and globally.

Through Points of Light, over 5 million volunteers are donating more than 20 million hours of service per year.

The organization operates through a global network of innovative volunteer organizations in more than 250 cities in 37 countries to inspire people to use their time, talents, and funds to create positive change in the communities they serve.

Here are just some of the things that Point of Light and its partners do:

1. Disaster Relief

If you want to volunteer, you can find a project from POL global network of projects including a US network, youth volunteers, youth mentoring, disaster aid, or opportunities for you to create your own project with help from the organization.

One of the projects POL manages is Ready Corps that teaches families and communities how to prepare for disasters. The corps members teach people how best to prepare including letting people know emergency alert systems, evacuation routes, and emergency disaster kit building. Community leaders are also trained on how to respond and recover from disasters.

When disasters happen, POL and their network of affiliates are the first responders and play a role in situation assessments, worldwide. POL's disaster experts play crucial roles in both short-term and long-term recovery of the afflicted areas by matching volunteers to communities needs, organizing donation distribution centers and more.

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2. GenerationOn Youth Volunteering

POL recognizes that youth have a passion for volunteering that can be cultivation from a very young age by giving youth the tools and resources they need to change the word.

GenerationOn, the youth division of POL works with youth and their families to create service projects that have large impacts. They also work with schools and nonprofits to equip them to engage youth in volunteering

In Atlanta, Georgia, families partnered with Trees Atlanta to plant 70 trees and find out about how trees benefit the environment, animals, and people too.

Over 50 families participated in the Mayflower Marathon, the annual food and funds drive run by the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank. Almost 55,000 lbs. of food were collected, sorted and distributed by the volunteers. This taught the participants about hunger issues in the community. Volunteers from HandsOn Birmingham, Alabama created more than 150 natural bird feeders and cleaned animal cages at Alabama Wildlife. They also learned about the importance of preserving wildlife habitats.

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3. International Good Deeds Day

Points of Light has been partnering with Good Deeds Day for three years. Last year, over 72 network organizations took part in GDD with over 81,000 people volunteering for good.

In Pasco, Florida, there was a festival dedicated to community volunteering. Over 250 people took part in the six-hour community-building event that included games, prizes, volunteer recognition and live musical entertainment.

A Georgia TeenHop Self Development Program for teens ages 12 -18 saw 40 youth volunteering at elderly homes and provided self-help development skills activities to help the residents improve their motor skills and memories by doing crafts, singing, and games.

The American Red Cross in Los Angeles partnered with the Asia-Pacific Center to organize a Youth Fair. The young people who volunteered at the event for middle and high schoolers created carnival fun while teaching the participants how to prepare for a disaster.

Hands on Manila partnered with 600 good Deeds Day volunteers and traveled to Freedom Island, the last mangrove border in the city in the Philippines to do beach clean-up. The trash from metro Manilla and nearby provinces end up on the shore of this 200-family island and to have a safe and clean environment, the trash has to be cleaned up and removed on a regular basis.

You can check out the Points of Light database to find a Good Deeds Day project to volunteer with on April 7.

(Good Deeds Day)