For many centuries, the Cherokee have assisted members of their tribe who have needed help—tending gardens, fixing roofs, rebuilding fire-damaged houses, etc. In 2005, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Preservation Foundation and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort built on this ga-du-gi tradition of community service by organizing and sponsoring a new annual event called Cherokee Day of Caring.
During the daylong event held each summer, several hundred members of the tribe help ten families or individuals in particular need, lending a hand with painting, yard clean up, gardening, and even widening a door so it can accommodate a wheelchair. Each community club within the ten communities on the Qualla Boundary nominates a beneficiary of the community endeavor. The volunteers accomplish an amazing amount of work in a short time, and the people they help are very appreciative.
The event is topped off by the recognition of ten Quiet Heroes who have served their communities unselfishly. A Good Neighbor Award is also presented; it honors someone who has significantly helped members of the EBCI, but who is not a member of the Tribe. Award recipients are nominated by the community clubs.
The Cherokee Day of Caring is a wonderful opportunity to practice ga-du-gi on an individual level.