It’s hard to believe it’s been just about 365 days since we welcomed 2011. And wow, has it been a year to remember. In this time of major change, of natural disasters, of not-so-natural economic woes, of major world-events, and of occupied this and that, volunteers and those working to support others in need have made a huge difference in helping make the world a better place. They’ve helped keep the time-honored tradition of giving back – and we at Repair the World  thank them (and you!)  for all you’ve done.

To celebrate the new year, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Repair blog posts of the year. These are the stories that made us cry, lifted our spirits, and charged us up to make the world a better place. Read on!

Top Interviews

  • Butch Brandes and Peter Archer:  These two Jewish firefighters were among the first responders at 9/11. The stories they shared for the 10th anniversary are both heartbreaking and inspirational.
  • Ami Dar: The founder of Idealist.org – the hugely successful networking, volunteering, and jobs resource website – made us get a little teary when he talked about his mom’s commitment to social justice.
  • Erin Schrode: This interview revealed the power teenagers have to change the world, and reminded us to take a closer look at what goes into our cosmetics!
  • Andrew Cohen: We love how this alum of Repair the World grantee-partner JOI uses his rock band, Hot Molasses, to spread the word about housing rights and social justice.
  • Sarah Cohen: What happens when a former fashion industry maven gets inspired by an organization (charity: water) bringing fresh, safe water to developing countries? Sounds like a great story to us!

Top Stories

  • Volunteering and Values: Repair the World’s study on values and volunteering trends amongst young Jewish adults made big waves within the Jewish community.
  • Help Japan Now: 2011 witnessed a huge number of natural disasters all across the world. We think this post, about the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, offers a good example of how Repair the World engaged readers around disaster relief work.
  • Amy Winehouse: The story of the pop singer’s sad and untimely death prompted a post about helping those we love fight drug and alcohol addiction.
  • Celebrate Fair Trade with Chocolate: As if we needed more reasons to eat chocolate.
  • Why This Night is Different: Readers seemed to love our round up of service and social-justice haggadahs for Passover. Check them out again – after all, Passover is only a winter away!
  • J-Teen and J-Serve: One of our favorite Jewish teen service organizations pairs up with one of our favorite National Day of Jewish service to help promote literacy. Win, win!
  • Inside the Classroom: We loved this personal essay by Eli Klein, a Teach for America corps member working in Miami.
  • Finding Service in the Garden: We also loved Sam Plotkin’s essay about his alternative spring break with Repair the World grantee-partner Jewish Farm School, and how it inspired him to bring sustainable values and organic farming to his university.
  • Three Voices, One Goal: What does Jewish service look like? The three participants who share their stories in this post help to show how diverse and meaningful helping others can really be.

We hope you can be as inspired as we are to give some of your time and talent to repairing the world, everyday.

Did we miss your favorite Repair the World story from 2011? Let us know what it is below or tweet us @repairtheworld.