Often in life, it’s the smallest things that have the greatest impact.

It seems cliché to say, but it’s true that in today’s fast-paced technology driven world, people rarely slow down and appreciate the little things.

Thankfully, following Project Winter Survival I’m reminded on a daily basis to sit back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the little things.

After we wrapped up our 14th year of Project Winter Survival — the 3,000 kits have been packed, distributed to agencies, and handed out to the homeless — the day-to-day life at The Bargains Group returns to normal, or as close as it can get! And like clockwork, a week after the event, thank-you cards begin to trickle in from agencies that are incredibly appreciative of the work we do.

Of course helping the homeless during the winter months is all the reward we ever need, but I surprise myself every time with how much the “Thank-You” touches me. It’s incredible how such a simple thing has such a big impact on my day. It’s a feeling my team at Bargains Group work to pass on to everyone that helped us make the event possible.

If I’m proudly smiling, I want everyone involved smiling with me!

Following the event, each of our sponsors is given a customized “Thank You” email, featuring photographs highlighting their team in action at the event. It’s incredibly important to me that everyone who committed their time to Project Winter Survival receives the proper recognition and knows how much we appreciate their help.

These types of small efforts in life often have the biggest effect, which is why National Volunteer Week is so important to me and my team.

This year, National Volunteer Week in Canada is April 21 – 27. It’s a week-long recognition and celebration of the commitment of the roughly 13.3-million volunteers across Canada.

Whether they spend an hour a week coaching a hockey team, or 100 hours helping out at a homeless shelter, National Volunteer week was created to make sure those volunteers know just how important their work is. These organizations simply wouldn’t be able to function without them.

It’s a simple thank-you that lasts a week!

It amazes me the lengths people will go to support causes that are important to them. When I founded Project Winter Survival 14 years ago, I felt so proud to be doing something to make a difference in people’s lives. However, it wasn’t until I started seeing all the volunteers requesting to help out that I realized there are people committing much more time than I to make a difference in the world.

It’s an incredibly important trait to instill in the younger generations!

I strongly encourage my children to live by my “give back where you live” motto, to help them understand the impact they can make, even at a young age. I want them to grow up knowing they should be proactive in helping others, not just to wait for the opportunity to present itself.

It will be the younger generations that will carry the torch for volunteering once my generation has grown too old.

Because of the huge difference volunteers make in so many lives, it’s important that everyone should make sure to say “thank-you” to the volunteers closest to them. Giving back is such an easy concept to overlook, but it’s such a noble trait, to be selfless and work towards making others happy.

It’s why I jumped at the chance to support Volunteer Canada for this year’s National Volunteer Week!

It’s a collaboration of beliefs; a commitment to the little things to make a big difference. Volunteer Canada is the face of volunteers nationwide, so helping their organizations say thank-you during National Volunteer Week and ensuring that appreciation can be shared to volunteers young and old is just another way The Bargains Group family can give back.

So remember to smile a little wider during National Volunteer Week. When you meet a volunteer at a shelter, community centre, or special event, let them know exactly how much you appreciate the work they do.

It may catch them off guard, but most of the time their smile will speak louder than words as to how much it means to them.

Canadian volunteers work tirelessly year round to improve the lives of so many, so it’s important to improve their lives, even if it’s with a simple gift or a very special thank-you.

You can never say that enough.