The idea of setting aside a day to focus on volunteering is a matter of individual preference. Homer Community Food Pantry volunteers make it Monday. Others set aside portions of their Saturday to fill in at the bake sale table for fundraising or lead a scouting event. Each year, on the Martin Luther King holiday, people are encouraged to get involved in activities that serve others in their communities.
Now, a new national effort aims at designating Tuesdays as the day of volunteering. The assumption is that employers may join in the effort and grant time for staff to help with holiday-related volunteerism. It’s not a bad idea to help make a commitment to set aside time to help out.
Now that the season of Share the Spirit is in full swing, the need for volunteers is all the more critical. Organizer Shari Daugherty encourages helpers to sign up or show up for key events ahead: Share the Spirit Spaghetti Feed is Dec. 11, which happens to be Tuesday. On Dec. 21, volunteers will pack food baskets and wrap gifts at Homer High School, starting at 9 a.m.
The Adopt-a-Family program is also a great opportunity for volunteering, though not in the traditional sense. It is an anonymous program that allows families or individuals to be paired with a family in need. You’ll be given information about sizes for each individual, ages and items desired or needed. Included in these packages are homemade touches like a hand-knitted scarf or mittens; a special touch with something extra in addition to the more practical gifts. You likely will never know which family you cared for this Christmas, but it will leave a lasting feeling of goodwill on both sides.
Christmas or holiday events aren’t the only community needs. Remember the elderly alone for the holidays in their rooms at assisted living centers. You might already be acquainted with a neighbor or person you have encountered through other efforts who may be in need of companionship or an unexpected gift of friendship.
Children and teens can also use direction and help as the holidays tend to be stressful for families. There are volunteer needs connected to schools, after-school programs or becoming a Big Brother/Big Sister. These avenues require a screening to ensure the safety of young people. If December is your month to instill a new habit of volunteering, it would also be a good time to complete the application process and be ready to go, if that’s an area of interest.
Nonprofit organizations trying to make a difference in education advancement for young people also are in demand. Groups like Junior Achievement, Relay for Life and environmental groups tend to be short-handed for office tasks like addressing envelopes or running errands. With so many nonprofits in Homer, there is no end to the opportunity to serve in a volunteer capacity.
Our hope is that every person finds someplace to give back in some way on Tuesdays — or any day of the week open to you. Volunteering is an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. It is considered serving society through one’s own interests, personal skills or learning, which in return produces a feeling of self-worth and esteem. Volunteering is also famous for skill development, socialization and fun. And it’s great for making contacts with others around town for a variety of reasons.
The benefits of volunteering extend far. Give it a try as we bid this year farewell and enter a brand new year.
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