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Matt Lauer of the Today show. / NBC


When I think about why I’m inspired to give back, the easiest answer is that I’m a father of three privileged children. When you’re fortunate enough to be able to raise your kids the way you want, it’s impossible not to be conscious of the fact that there are a lot of kids who don’t grow up in those circumstances. I never stop thinking about that. I think it’s just in every parent’s DNA to try to brighten the lives of children in any way you can.

As parents, our No.1 responsibility is to raise healthy children. But you’ve also got to raise good people. And good people aren’t just consumers, they’re givers.

I’m proud that my kids don’t think of giving back as a chore. They never say, “Oh God, Mom and Dad are making us do this again.” They talk about service and wonder what they can do to help.

It takes a concerted effort to instill that lesson. It doesn’t just happen by osmosis. If you leave kids to their own devices, and to the materialistic images they see in pop culture, they may not get it. You have to set aside time each day or week or year to communicate the values you want your children to have.

Make A Difference Day is a perfect opportunity for that. It’s one of the greatest ideas I’ve ever heard: a chance to change the world around us, to change the look of our communities, and to change lives.

If you have time to volunteer next Saturday, do it. If not, make the time. It will change you as well.

More In Make A Difference Day

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.