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We hear the word community used quite frequently these days. But what does community really mean? Growing up I always thought community was referring to an area people lived in. A neighborhood filled with families. Since then I have learned that a community can be an education community, military community, medical community, church community, or social media community just to name a few. Community isn't just a place you live. A community is a group of like minded people or people with similar interests. The social media community is what has recently caught my attention and keeps drawing me back.

When people are part of a community they often work together and support each other. It's not uncommon to lend a helping hand. This sounds like a neighborhood filled with families doesn't it. I have found the social media community particularly, the Snapchat community to resemble this.

I joined Snapchat about 2 years ago after my daughter had pushed me to. I thought Snapchat was for kids to send goofy selfies back and forth. I really wasn't interested in this. I finally gave in and joined. My first snap was of my daughter brushing her teeth. I of course sent it to her. Over the next two years I figured out how to take photos and write messages on them then save each memory. As I've traveled Snapchat has been a fast way to share my vacation moments with my girls and close friends. Fast forward and something extraordinary has happened.

Almost 2 years ago, I followed RealRubyDW. She is a sweet, joyful, talented young mother. Ruby is super creative and began sharing DIY projects and recipes that I had to try. Through interaction on Snap messages we found that we share many common interests and experiences. Ruby was doing good things in her local community and I was hooked. I knew that Snapchat had the power to make a huge impact in the lives of others all over the world.

Over the past several months I began to receive friend requests from people I didn't know yet. I also followed some "social media famous" people. One gentleman shared my snap code along with many others and my community began to grow. Then Ghost codes hit the scene and my community exploded with smart, kind, funny, creative, hard working people. People who began connecting with each other, building each other up, sharing knowledge, collaborating, and ultimately building communities.

Ladies and gentlemen, Snapchat is not just for kids anymore. It's a powerful media tool at our fingertips that can be used to teach, inform, share, bring awareness, encourage, entertain and occasionally make some money. I don't know about you, but it all sounds great to me. Definitely the kind of community I want to be part of.

Over the past few months I have held two challenges that bring awareness to the hunger problem in America. I was and continue to be amazed at the amount of people who grabbed hold of the message and started to share it out. Some caught hold of the message and let their heart be stirred into action. In Texas a community garden is being built and maintained by a business. In Washington State a fitness instructor is volunteering at a local food bank. A young woman who has become a dear friend to me drove from Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Detroit, Michigan so she could serve at my food pantry.

One Snapchatter shared his vision for a brick and mortar Bible store in his small town of Edawa, Tennessee. Blakes Bibles quickly went from a far off vision to an online store still working toward his original goal of a physical building. I was thrilled to be the first online customer. Then several others In our Snapchat community began to order Bibles as well. You see Blake's Bibles is a unique business/mission. Each time a Bible is purchased, a second Bible is donated to someone who can't afford to purchase their own.

I sat back and watched and tried to learn as much as I could. The connections and more importantly the friendships that were forming were and continue to be amazing. Suddenly there was this Facebook message that appeared and many of my Snap community was in this chat. Our friend Blake started something that even he didn't anticipate. Da Dnap Homies as he named us, became a community. It didn't take long to realized we were so much more than just a group of friends. Together we have so much talent, knowledge, creativity and experience. We started to brainstorm ways to collaborate and impact the community around us.

Just when I thought I couldn't be amazed anymore at how this community had formed and the potential to make a difference around us, something spectacular happened. Priscilla, one of the Snap Homies challenged us in the chat to pull together and support our friend Sandra Centorino's project #Snapitforward. A mission to spread positivity by doing something kind for someone without asking for or expecting anything in return. Then Snap about it with the #Snapitforward. In what really seemed like a blink a movement started. About 20 of us signed up for a time slot to,share this mission and Snap it forward.

On Friday, May 13, 2016, this Positivity train began in Connecticut and snapped along to Texas, Arizona, California, Tennessee, Georgia, Canada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia even Thailand. Sandra started the movement by sharing how Snap it Forward began at her kitchen table over a conversation with her daughter. Da Snap Homies snapped it forward by feeding the hungry, teaching sign language, feeding dogs, sharing handmade cards, passing out snacks and balloons, giving Bibles to people who can't afford one their self. One Homie left a book with a note for her waitress. I snapped it forward by mailing a couple gift cards along with a note to a young family who is caring for a sick child. Several Homies purchased T-shirts to help another Homie who's wife is battling cancer. A community had come together in a single day, blessing people around all over the world!

We live in a world where at the click of a button or the swipe of a phone screen we can reach out to people all over the world. The resources and opportunities before us are simply endless. I love all of the things I have learned from my Snapchat community. It's nice to see that in a very busy, noisy world that has so much negativity going around, we can also see communities sharing love and blessing each other.

I believe blessing people is form of loving people. The Bible tells us there is no greater commandment than to love our neighbor. Loving our neighbor can be as simple as just being kind to a stranger. It doesn't have to cost anything. We have communities all around us that offer an opportunity to work together, and love our neighbor. I challenge you to make it a point to share love with a stranger. You may find that you are the one who is blessed in return.

I've shared this quote over and over and I will do it again. "You have not lived, until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." -Anonymous. Do your self a favor and get involved in your communities. Lead with love and watch your world begin to change for the bette

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