International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer DayThis Monday, December 5 is International Volunteer Day. On this day designated by the United Nations Volunteer Program people from around the globe celebrate volunteerism for the vast contributions volunteering can make at every level of society.  The goal is to mobilize volunteers and connect organizations to willing volunteer participants. Private and governmental organizations are involved to increase interest and efforts in volunteerism.

Before International Volunteer Day comes and goes, we want to highlight some of the fantastic ways you can volunteer this season. Whether it’s on the designated awareness day or any other day in December or beyond, volunteering can make a big impact in your community and beyond.

There are endless causes that are worth your attention, time and energy but it is unrealistic to support them all. The first step is selecting a few volunteer areas that align with your passions and values. Consider what matters most or hits closest to home for you. Volunteer areas range from specific health issues, homelessness and hunger, to environmental causes, domestic violence and educational initiatives, to name a few. Even within these subsets there are a variety of volunteer opportunities where you can assist. Look for ones that are feasible for you.

With a focus on International Volunteer Day and giving back in honor of the holiday season, making a pledge to volunteer weekly or monthly is an excellent goal. While it’s lovely to devote time just during the holiday season to bring cheer to people in need or support a cause, help is needed year round. Use this time to commit yourself to making a difference.

Traditional methods of volunteering are always great. Planting trees, cleaning up parks and recreational areas, serving food at soup kitchens, delivering meals to the elderly or disabled people, sorting items at a women’s shelter, and collecting canned goods and toiletries for food banks are among the many ways you and your family can volunteer.

Another terrific way to volunteer is to draw on your own talents and expertise to help educate, inform and bring happiness to others. Look for needs in your community or online that match your skills. Perhaps an organization needs a newsletter or grant writer to help raise awareness or funds for their cause. Many schools that cater to low-income students offer afterschool programs where students can continue learning outside their core subjects, such as gardening, painting, dance or creative writing. Community centers may need assistance working with non-native speakers teaching English, computer skills or other important proficiencies that will help them get jobs.

Volunteering should be a rewarding experience for you. Whether you’re filling a direct need or creating an opportunity that draws on your own skills, whether it’s one day or a regular commitment, volunteering makes a difference in our world. Take part in International Volunteer Day by dedicating yourself to one or many volunteer opportunities in the near future.

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