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RISMEDIA, Jan. 16, 2008-Generously giving back to community-based organizations is a resolution that real estate leader Diane Turton encourages everyone to make at the start of the New Year.

“When you volunteer and support a local cause, you can make great things happen, even the unexpected,” said Turton, who is owner and broker of record at Diane Turton, Realtors, which is the leading woman-owned firm in New Jersey, according to a statewide business publication.

For example, in December, hundreds of people joined together to contribute thousands of presents to families who were in crisis during the holiday season. The gifts, which included clothing, family games, children’s books and items for teens, provided a joyful Christmas for 1,301 children in Ocean County and a similar number of youngsters in Monmouth County. A key source of the gifts, which were distributed to children and teens by the Salvation Army Citadel and Family and Children’s Service, was the Turton Giving Tree. Created by the real estate firm and supported by its 500 sales associates, the annual project brings neighbors and friends together to help households in need.

The Giving Tree is just an example of how New Jerseyans and community-minded individuals everywhere can work together to serve the greater good during 2008. Turton, who says giving back is one of her core beliefs, offers the following guidelines to residents who want to actively support good causes in their neighborhood, school or village:

1. Resolve to get involved now – make a personal pledge to reach out to friends and find out what they are doing. Then, join with a local organization in early February or sooner.
2. Start with a small commitment – volunteer for a committee that is part of larger effort, which is handling, for example, an important part of an organization’s annual fundraiser.
3. Share your time, skills and abilities – organizations always welcome people who are willing to contribute their gifts and talents to achieve a greater good.
4. Join with a friend – recruit a neighbor, spouse, relative or older child, and volunteer together; shared experiences are a great way to build closer relationships.
5. Follow through to make a difference – organizations need volunteers who can be counted on.

“Resolve to make giving back a fun, positive and rewarding experience,” concluded Turton.

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