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Kate Snow, Correspondent for Dateline NBC
Kate Snow, Correspondent for Dateline NBC / Virginia Sherwood/NBC News
MDDay 2011: NBC News spot: This spot runs on NBC News starting Sept. 12.

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My job often takes me to places where people are in great need.

Whenever I go anywhere there’s suffering, I always take my camera with me and take a lot of photos, in part so I can show them to my kids.

My husband and I try to instill in them that they have a pretty good life, growing up in a nice suburb of New York. And there’s a responsibility that comes with that; you have to pay it forward.

Teaching my kids to give back is an essential part of parenting. It’s not something that’s optional. Compassion is one of the basic values that I want my children to have: that if they see a need, whether it’s around the corner or thousands of miles of away, they should feel motivated to do whatever they can to help.

In some small way, I feel like it's working.

I was recently packing for Kenya. I explained to my 8-year-old son I was going to a place where people were really, really hungry.

And he wrote out a list of vegetables that I should bring with me.

You can’t really explain to an 8-year-old that you can’t pack your bag full of peas, but the fact that he even thinks that way makes me incredibly proud.

Make A Difference Day is a great way to introduce kids to the rewards of volunteering. It's fun, it's focused and it's empowering to know that millions are motivated to do the same.

Be sure to check out Harry Smith's essay on how he sees the importance of volunteering.

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