When Carla Sanda’s three children were little, she and her husband tried to instill in them a sense of great responsibility—and the importance of the Golden Rule. “We wanted them to start thinking outside the box. So we said to them, ‘hey, we have been blessed with a pretty good life, so let’s take a look at how we can help others who are less fortunate,’” Carla says.
Each year, just before Christmas, they’d get together to see how they could help others during the holiday season. “Sometimes it might be someone through our church, or other times, perhaps the Salvation Army,” she explains. “Other times, it was as simple as each member of the family choosing a tag off of a tree and getting to select the gift they wanted to give.”
More than 40 years later, while helping her daughter and son-in-law at a Christmas gift-wrapping event for the Boys and Girls Clubs, something clicked for Carla: “I realized that my family is truly committed to helping others, and I’m very proud of them.”
By giving to organizations that are especially close to her children’s hearts, Carla explains, she’s doubling the impact—and the joy. “I’ve heard so much from my daughter about the Clubs and what they’re accomplishing, and why she’s involved, so I wanted to help too. I am supporting a great organization, but I’m also honoring my children’s commitment to giving back, and that’s important to me.”
Giving back is definitely an all-hands-on-deck initiative for the whole family, which now includes her adult grandson. “We’re lucky that we have what we need, so rather than shopping and buying more gifts, we still come together and decide as a family: What’s a better way to use the money, instead of buying more stuff?”
The family supports not only the clubs, but a number of other organizations, including Shield 616, Project Sanctuary, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and Zion National Park’s Forever Project. In 2010, several years after she lost her husband, Carla fulfilled a lifelong dream and joined the Peace Corps. During her 27-month service in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific Ocean, she met her current husband, who she already knew was just as committed to helping others as the rest of her family.
“I didn’t join the Peace Corps to meet someone,” she says. “But you never know what life has in store for you. So don’t be afraid to open that next door; you don’t know what’s on the other side.”
And when it comes to opening doors, Carla encourages others to open the door to giving, if they’re able. “It’s a way to help our younger generation start thinking, the world’s a big place, and there are ways to make a difference, no matter how small.”