Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” My co-worker, Olive, has this quote on a poster above her desk. I’ve always liked it—it makes me feel hopeful.
Margaret Mead’s words have been on my mind recently. For the past month I’ve been collecting donations of towels, blankets, food, and toys for the West Coast Spay and Neuter Society (SANS). Located in Mission, British Columbia, SANS rescues creatures of all descriptions from far and wide. Dogs from death row have been taken in by Kathe, the founder, and given a chance to experience love and patience instead of the abuse that so many have endured. I became involved with SANS in November last year when I was asked if I would sell raffle tickets to help raise funds for the organization. When Gloria, one of the volunteers, mentioned to me that SANS needed bedding for the rescues, I decided to organize a “Towel Drive” during the “white sale” season in January and February when many people buy new linens. I made a poster and emailed it to my friends, asking that they distribute it to their networks or put it up in the office or apartment buildings. I also put the poster up in my condo complex and in my workplace and made sure that I was at every staff meeting to remind people about the value of making just one small donation.
The response I have had from “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” has truly been inspiring. It has been fascinating to observe the process. You would think that it would be a simple and financially manageable way of contributing to a cause … surely everyone has an old towel at home that they wouldn’t mind giving away. But the pattern has not been one or two old towels from the majority. Instead, a handful of friends, co-workers, and neighbours have taken up the challenge and have been bringing me enormous green garbage bags filled with quilts, blankets, towels, toys for cats and dogs, wet and dry food, containers for water, cleaning supplies, baskets for cat beds, and pillows to place in the baskets. One of my neighbours donated a pet carrier that had never been used. Another neighbour and his partner happened to be moving across the country and donated blankets, food, and even a Rubbermaid bin to house the food! People have been extraordinarily generous. When I arrive at work in the morning, I find new donations at my desk and I come home from work to find piles of bedding and toys outside my door. I feel so buoyed to know that my neighbours, co-workers, friends (and friends of friends) are eager to respond to a call for help. In a world where the media floods us with images and news of anger, violence or plain indifference, I feel optimistic that a “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” is alive and well—and willing to take action to make the world a better place. If we all take a small step … contribute one small thing … the accumulated results can be amazing! Thank you to everyone who donated to help the creatures rescued by SANS. You have made a difference.