It feels like 2016 was filled with more than its fair share of heartbreak, as data released by Google Trends illustrates. The search engine’s top trending global news topics in 2016 were:
An acquaintance recently shared that she was having a hard time balancing the need to stay informed about current events and feeling overwhelmed by all the horrible things happening in the world.
I can relate to how she feels.
So, in an effort to prevent myself from getting “stuck” in feeling overwhelmed, I try to also look for the good — to seek out encouraging stories that inspire hope.
For example, the actions of Ezekiel Elliott, of the Dallas Cowboys.
[Full disclosure, I’m not a football fan — at all — so please forgive me if I get any of the football-speak wrong.]
Following the Dallas Cowboys/Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on December 18, the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle campaign received an unexpected bump in donations. After scoring a touchdown, running back Ezekiel Elliott jumped into a large Salvation Army kettle displayed near the endzone. Elliott’s celebration went viral, setting off a positive chain of events (minus the 15-yard penalty his team received for “excessive celebration”).
According to various news reports, in less than 24 hours, the Salvation Army saw a 61% increase in donations, many for $21 (Elliott’s jersey number) — an amount the organization says can feed a family in need for three days! Elliott also made a substantial donation ($21,000) and continued to promote the Red Kettle campaign through social media in the days that followed.
On December 29, the charity tweeted: “We owe a lot to @EzekielElliott and the @DallasCowboys this year. They’re about as good as teammates get! #RedKettleReason #DoingTheMostGood”.
What I find so inspiring about this example isn’t the amount of money raised — after all, not everyone has the potential of reaching an estimated TV audience of 24 million… or going viral. But, it highlights that we all have the unique power to ACT. The surge in donations started because one person acted within his sphere of influence to make a difference.
If we all do the best we can, where we can, in whatever way we can — we have the opportunity to make a difference, too. Whether we help one person or thousands, we’ve taken action and spread hope.
As 2016 ends and 2017 begins, I encourage all of us — seek out the good… act… choose hope.
Heather B. joined Empathia in 2004 and is a Communications Specialist. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Theological Studies through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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