Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don't have to have a college education to serve. You don't even have to make your subjects and verbs agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace."

We are bombarded by the daily news of needs — desperate stories about poor, hungry, sick, and despairing people around the world. Pleas to help animals and places in jeopardy. The calls for our caring are sometimes overwhelming, and we are tempted to look the other way. But then we are reminded by all the world's religions that service of others is of paramount performance. Whatever we do or not do affects the world. As Catholic activist Dorothy Day reminds us, good deeds are like a pebble tossed into a pond: they create ripples that spread in all directions.

Animated by President Obama's call for Americans to stand up and serve, editor Nancy Hancock along with seven writers and seven experts have put together this topnotch daily guidebook with 365 specific suggestions and an interactive website (www.spiritofservice365.com) featuring opportunities to serve. The aim here is "cultivating the spirit of service, meaning you will be opening your heart, your mind, your resources, and your calendar to the needs of others." This book lists more than 500 organizations with ways to help in nearly every possible arena including the environment, human rights, elder care, youth services, hunger, relief, animal conservation, troop support, green living, the arts, literacy, historic preservation, civic participation, and more.

Arranged in a daily format, each week of Spirit of Service offers seven different ways to serve:

Money: Donate — find ways your money can make a difference.
Energy: Volunteer — put intention into action.
Focus: Create interest in a cause to bring about social change.
Influence: Use your personal equity to help others.
Compassion: Open your heart to the needs of others.
Support: Get involved — stand up for those without a voice.
Passage: Join someone on their journey as a guide or mentor.

In addition, there are thought-provoking quotations on each day of the year to spur you on as you consider all the possibilities. Here's a small sampler:

• "No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
— Edmond Burke

• "If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results."
— John Dixon

• "If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart."
— Arab proverb

• "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
— Booker T. Washington