Mandy Houk, 44
Writer and English teacher
In June 2012, Colorado's Waldo Canyon wildfire consumed nearly 350 homes and caused $450 million in damage.
Watching from her nearby Black Forest home, Houk thought "how stupid my stuff looked" in light of others' losses. So she enlisted her church and writers' group to collect donations of household goods, then held free "garage sales" where affected families picked out items ranging from muffin tins to bedroom sets.
This year, she was at it again: Soon after a June 2013 fire that destroyed more than 500 homes (and threatened her own), Houk was gearing up for another giveaway.
"The stuff itself has no meaning," says Houk. "What's meaningful is that other people help you get on with your life."