As originally published in the Northwest Herald on November 26, 2017.

This time of year, especially November, gives me all the feels. I love the drop in temperatures, the frothy fall-inspired lattes from the coffee shops, the smell of burning leaves in the air and, of course, the comforting foods that greet you from the oven after a long, cold day.

This time of year also gets me thinking, like most other folks, of ways I can count my blessings, be more “present” in my life and what I am truly grateful for.

I want to create family memories and traditions that they can carry with them into adulthood.

But most of all, I truly want to inspire in them the joy of and the responsibility of giving back. And I know that starts with me.

I have been working for United Way of Greater McHenry County for almost a year and a half, and more than ever, I am incredibly passionate about the work we are doing.

We’ve embraced the motto “Give Where You Live” this year to really showcase that we are a community organization.

We are working hard to raise essential funds for our neighbors – those who really count on our help and need our support.

We are continuing to increase the awareness of local issues and reaching out to keep engaging people to give back in multiple ways.

As one of our advocates pointed out to me a few months ago, United Way is like an umbrella organization. We take the funds we raise each year and distribute them to 30 local nonprofit agencies, supporting 48 programs that focus on fostering education, improving health and working toward financial stability.

We are so fortunate to see the amazing effect our local nonprofits are making and how imperative the United Way funds are to continue their services.

What also makes me extremely proud is that we have elevated our organization, showcasing that we really do “give where we live” by organizing a Day of Caring.

We asked our 30 partner agencies to submit projects that our company donors and supporters could adopt during the month of November.

This idea turned into several days where companies such as Mercyhealth, ITW Medical and the McHenry County Government Center engaged their employees to work together and give of their time and talents – from raking yards for seniors to cleaning the McHenry County PADS shelter to holding a sweater drive for young kids.

This idea has been such a success that we now are working on organizing more Days of Caring in February.

I am elated to be a part of such an inspiring organization. The knowledge I have gained about McHenry County through my job, as well as the energy that my role has brought me, has me extremely thankful.

It’s a perfect time of year to realize how fortunate I am and how I can encourage my family to remember that they are essential in making a difference, too.

Along with inspiring my kids and family, I hope that I encourage you to look at how you can make an impact and your own responsibility of giving back in some way.

Giving Tuesday is a marvelous day to challenge yourself and motivate your own family to find the joy in giving.

I hope you take this opportunity to give where you live and make an investment in McHenry County, the community you call home.

United Way would love to be the recipient of your generosity, so we can spread your donation across all our partners.

But most importantly, we’d love to help you find the right place to share your time, talents and treasure. That way, you really can have all the feels.

• Heather Arnold is marketing manager of the United Way of Greater McHenry County. For questions about United Way or to learn how to contribute, email her at