Higher Callings

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Pine acknowledges that volunteering can be a strain on his schedule at times. "It can be tough, no question about it," he says. But, he quickly adds, it's worth it. "It breaks down barriers because I get to know people I wouldn't know otherwise," says Pines. "We [volunteers] talk about the problems we have with our 'mentees,' and then we go into a [work] meeting. It helps build a real team spirit that I don't think you can get just by working in a corporate environment."

Volunteer work, he says, promotes an excitement and loyalty that the job itself or a hefty paycheck can't provide. "If someone came and waived $10,000 or $20,000 under my nose and said, 'Come work here,' I'd really hesitate," says Pine.

But even Muller is shaken in his conviction at times, especially when he thinks of the kinds of odds he's facing, like the fact that almost 18% of Cambodian children will die before the age of 5.

"I feel like I want to cry out to God," he says as his taxi bounces along the rough road to Siem Reap's airport. "It's that feeling of helplessness. You just can't do enough."

But when he sees the smiles on the faces of the children who, until recently, had never been given a reason to smile, he remembers what brought him to Cambodia in the first place and what's driving him to extend Warm Blankets to Africa.

"I can't stop crying," says Muller as a group of singing children encircle him. "I love this. It's incredible to see how far these kids have come. There are so many miracles here."

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Lending A Hand

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have all become synonymous with philanthropy. The following are a few examples of volunteer efforts at other companies:

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Employees at MERCK & CO. and BAYER CORP. teach hands-on science to students and teachers in their communities.

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UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC.'S Welfare to Work Partnership program teams the company with organizations around the country to recruit, train and assist welfare recipients in finding jobs.

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CAPITAL ONE FINANCIAL CORP'S Leadership Grants program teams the company with nonprofit agencies to provide educational opportunities, life skills and leadership training for at-risk children.

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EASTMAN KODAK CO. sponsors "digital villages" in townships in South Africa to increase the level of computer literacy there.

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PHILIP MORRIS COS. employees serve food in soup kitchens, volunteer at shelters for battered women and deliver meals to the homebound, elderly and people with AIDS.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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