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Chelsea Clinton
Chelsea Clinton / Peter Kramer / NBC

Both of my grandmothers had hard lives growing up during the Depression; yet, both created families full of love and support. They also reached beyond their families to help other children grow up with more love and opportunity than they did, volunteering at church, community centers and schools. Just like they expected my parents to work hard in school, they expected my parents’ lives to be lives of service. My parents passed their mothers’ legacy, an ethos of service, on to me.

Growing up in Little Rock, my family went to church on Sundays, and afterward, conversation often turned to what service project we would do together. A favorite was deciding which books to donate to the church or library.

In high school in Washington, D.C., I was co-head of the service club. At Stanford, I volunteered as a tutor and in art therapy at a kids’ hospital. I loved talking to my grandmothers about service, and I agreed with them: I received more than I could ever give.

Some service, like cleaning up after hurricanes, is undeniably hard. But a lot of it, like helping a sick kid make a collage or doing an AIDS walk with friends, is fun. It’s also elevating and important.

Thanksgiving arguably comes a month early, on Oct. 27: Make A Difference Day. I hope you’ll think about the people who have helped, inspired and motivated you, and I hope you’ll seize the opportunity to do just that for someone else. I’ll be thinking of my grandmothers and working in their honor.

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Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, is sponsored annually by USA WEEKEND Magazine and its 800 carrier newspapers. Make A Difference Day takes place on the 4th Saturday in October each year.