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by Abigail Van Buren

Teenager Gets Grounded for Sky High Phone Bill

DEAR ABBY: You dispensed some wonderful advice in your Thanksgiving Day column. You wrote, "If you're feeling down and want an instant 'upper,' the surest way ... is to do something nice for someone else." I'd like to echo your sentiments and encourage your readers to keep the doldrums at bay by volunteering.

Volunteering not only benefits the recipients of service, but often the volunteer feels better as a result of giving back. Volunteering reduces social isolation and disconnection, boosts spirits, combats stress and builds stronger communities.

According to the most recent study by the Points of Light Foundation and Indiana University, respondents said that volunteering as a family improves communication, promotes positive values, emphasizes the importance of teamwork, teaches kids empathy, respect, friendliness and tolerance, and creates a new generation of dedicated volunteers.

Please encourage your readers who might be dreading this holiday season to volunteer. Giving to others is the best way to nourish your own spirit. -- ROBERT K. GOODWIN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, POINTS OF LIGHT FOUNDATION

DEAR ROBERT: Thanks for an inspiring reminder that the surest way to forget your own troubles is to do something nice for those less fortunate. The adrenaline rush you'll get is more powerful than speed, and the "high" is perfectly legal. Everyone has something to give, and the most precious gift isn't money -- it's TIME.

Readers, to find projects in your local communities or wherever you spend your holiday vacations, call toll-free (800) 865-8683 and enter your ZIP Code, or visit Families can find project ideas, activities for kids and other helpful resources by exploring the Web site. Since the holiday season is upon us, don't procrastinate. Reach out and grab the opportunity to help someone.