Saturday, December 23, 2006

Volunteer!

There is a recent advertisement on the local RI buses around here that has the heading "Volunteer!". It's an ad looking for volunteers for child advocates in the court system. I don't really know anything about that particular type of volunteering, but I think the idea of volunteering in general is a good one. It's easy to get caught up in our own lives and not think of taking the time out of our schedules to help others. There are plenty of opportunities for volunteer work, just type "volunteer" into a Google search and you'll find opportunities for all sorts of interests - helping people, helping animals, helping the environment, etc. Or try Volunteer Match. You can enter your zip code and how far you are willing to drive and you'll find a list of places that need help. If everyone spent even just a little time doing volunteer work, the world would be a much better place.

I know it's not always easy to just go out and volunteer. I'm embarassed to say I had been thinking about the idea of working in a soup kitchen for years, but never actually did anything about it. I always had some excuse for not doing it - I didn't really know what I'd do there, or how to find out specifically how to help, I'm shy around strangers, etc. Finally, about six months ago, out of the blue, a friend of mine suggested the idea of helping out at a soup kitchen, not knowing it was something that had been in the back of my mind for too long a time. So, since June I've been working for a few hours each Saturday morning helping prepare breakfast at a local soup kitchen. And all those excuses I had had in my mind for not doing it earlier turned out to be pretty silly. The first day we went there, we just showed up unannounced and asked if there was something we could do to help. Since we were complete unknowns, we were initially given pretty simple tasks - setting up chairs, sweeping, organizing the food pantry, etc. But, the point is the people there were happy to have the extra help. And, as we got to know the place and consistently came week after week, we were able to take on more responsibilities and be even more helpful.

So, if you've been thinking that you've always wanted to do volunteer work but never have, go out and get to it! There are plenty of places that need help! And if you never considered the idea - please do! Just a few hours of volunteer work a week can make a big difference!

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