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NBC News Television correspondent Harry Smith
NBC News Television correspondent Harry Smith / NBC News
MDDay 2011: NBC News spot: This spot runs on NBC News starting Sept. 12.

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Every week, I look forward to the moment when my wife, NBC sportscaster Andrea Joyce, comes home from taking our Golden Doodle, Reggie, to visit the Ronald McDonald House affiliated with the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Andrea and Reggie are part of a program called Angel On A Leash. And every week, she has extraordinary stories to tell.

Sometimes the kids light up just from seeing Reggie. They get to hold and hug him. Often they start to talk about their pets back home. For a little while they don't have to think about being sick or being away from school and friends. And while it might seem insignificant, it’s very powerful stuff. Not only for the children, but for Andrea, whose life is richer. And by extension, it enriches our entire family.

All of us have done things in our lives that we might not consider particularly important volunteer work, like reffing in your kid’s soccer league or pitching in at the local senior center. But the fact is that all the volunteer activities strengthen our communities.

There’s an old saying in business: people ask if you have any “skin in the game.” Which means, are you invested?

When we volunteer, it show that each of us has skin in the game. We put ourselves and our energies into our own communities, and in the end, that’s what makes us better as a country.

People who volunteer often agree in the beginning that they thought “they were doing something for others.”

It doesn't take them long to realize they are the ones who are richer for the experience. It's the absolute truth. Make A Difference Day is your chance to find out.

Now, check out Kate Snow's essay on how she instills "paying it forward" with her kids.

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