Make a Difference - Volunteer!
"Since the earliest days of the Republic, Americans have embraced the virtues of hard work, charity, and community service, and each generation of Americans has recognized its responsibility to pass these values on to the next generation." ~U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige
"I hope each of you will help build this culture of service, for three important reasons: service is important to your neighbors; service is important to your character; and service is important to your country…. some needs government cannot fulfill: the need for kindness, and for understanding, and for love. A person in crisis often needs more than a program or a check; he needs a friend—and that friend can be you." ~George W. Bush, 2002 speech at Ohio State University
While government programs cannot fulfill the need for kindness, understanding, and love in our communities, millions of unselfish acts of kindness and decency can change America one heart at a time. The terms "volunteerism" and "community service" both refer to the practice of serving others without compensation or other external obligations to do so. They are acts of charity, marked by a concern for others. In this way, volunteering strengthens local communities while contributing to the betterment of society as a whole.
The Bible clearly establishes that serving others ultimately translates to serving God. And research shows that volunteering not only helps others—it actually improves the emotional and physical well being of the volunteers! People who have spent time volunteering report that they receive much more satisfaction and joy out of the experience than they ever expend in inconvenience or effort. By gathering clothes, toys, or food for the needy, even young children can gain a sense of helping others that will go a long way toward making them feel good about themselves.
Families that volunteer together also benefit because volunteering teaches values like kindness, empathy, and respect while breaking down generational gaps, social barriers, and other forms of misunderstanding. Volunteering improves family communication and is a good way to spend quality time together. People who volunteer as children are more likely to grow up to become dedicated volunteers in the future.
Beyond these more lofty benefits, volunteering can be a great way to meet people and develop friendships as well as a means of putting one’s own problems into perspective. It is something that everyone from students to retirees can do in their spare time. Volunteer work may be used to learn skills and gain experience to put on a resume. Finally, volunteering often provides networking opportunities and is a means to create new contacts that may help in your business or career.
Volunteering is fun — and it changes the lives of all those involved. Everyone can do something, no matter how small – and that includes you!
What Can You Do to Help? Here are some ideas!
1. Participate in food and clothing drives for the poor.
Can you think of any other ways in which you could volunteer at your church, school, or within your community? Be sure to consider your interests and choose a cause that is personally important to you, so that you will be able to enjoy your work, feel that your valuable time is being used wisely, and have a sense that you are contributing something of worth to the world.
Annual Volunteer Opportunities
• Make a Difference Day – October - the largest national day of helping others, held every year on the 4th Saturday of October. It is sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation.
Of course, helping people does not have to be limited to certain days. People do good deeds and perform random acts of kindness every day. Adults and kids alike are working all year round at helping others, caring for the environment, and making their communities better places to live. Have you done your good deed for the day?
www.usaweekend.com/diffday (Learn about Make a Difference Day and how to get involved, find a project, look at project planning guides (for students, teachers, families, employers, and more), an idea generator, and examples of what others have done.)
www.pointsoflight.org (Find out how individuals, families, and corporations can get involved in volunteer community service.)
www.usa.pointsoflight.org/kids.jsp (Show Your Character: A “How-to” Guide for Young Volunteers.)
www.networkforgood.org/volunteer (Learn more about America's tradition of volunteering, get started with 10 tips on volunteering wisely, read personal stories from people who volunteer, find volunteer opportunities, and link to the Youth Volunteer Network for teens.)
www.youthnoise.com (On this website for teens, click on “Take Action” for a Lend-a-Hand Toolkit and ways in which you can be part of the solution.)
www.kidscare.org (A national service club for schools and youth groups that introduces kids to philanthropic action.)
www.familycares.org (Their mission is to promote compassion and the spirit of charity in children through hands-on family projects that help others in need.)
www.give.org (This Better Business Bureau site has advice on giving to charities and lists hundreds of national charitable organizations.)
http://familyeducation.com (In the Search box, type in "volunteering" and click on Go to get ten great volunteer ideas, tips, and related topics.)
www.volunteerphoenix.org (Informative site for aspiring volunteers of all ages and backgrounds in Maricopa County; mobilizing families, youth and businesses in volunteerism through a personalized online referral process. They also sponsor a Youth Volunteer Advisory Board for high school students and the Youth Volunteer Corps for ages 11-18.)
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