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How to make the most out of volunteering

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To be a volunteer is to be a giver of good things, of life, of shared burdens. To be a volunteer requires sacrifice, generosity, and action. As we approach April, or volunteer month, consider these mindsets and methods to give and hopefully you will find an appreciation for life in the bigger picture given in return.

Let volunteering be personal

Everyone and everything has needs, so dig a little into the different realms of service work you can invest in. Do you have a heart for children?

Consider volunteering with kids, whether it’s an after-school program, tutoring, or sponsoring a child overseas. Children deserve the nourishing care and tender devotion to their development and discovery. Take the time to learn from them what it means to have childlike wonder.

Are you creatively inclined? Consider local justice art movements that you can contribute to, and perhaps you’ll happen upon a community of like-minded people as well. Have extra time over the summer and love meeting new cultures? Perhaps a trip somewhere completely new will teach you about a people who are in desperate need of hope that you might not only be able to alleviate, but to relate to as well.

Never forget the why

If there’s one thing about volunteering, it’s that ultimately no one signed you up for this—you did. Someone may have highly encouraged or requested you to volunteer, but it’s your choice if and how well you are going to volunteer. If it takes discipline to cement the goodness of giving, then continue to fight for what volunteering entails: the meaningful gift of being able to give.

However, if you find yourself becoming bitter and hardened toward it, take a break. No one’s forcing you to volunteer, but reevaluate your perspective and continue to check back with thanksgiving. Remember, volunteering is putting others before yourself, but you need to be at a healthy place of receiving and growing so the overflow is that much more.

Do a little spring cleaning!

Do you have extra clothes, dishes, furniture, books lying around in heaps and mounds? Consider donating them to your local thrift shop. However, if it’s something too worn or something you wouldn’t want to use or wear, don’t use a donation as a substitution for disposal.

Even in donating, we want to remember that other people will be benefiting from your actions, and though you may never meet the person your giving directly impacts, recognize the preservation of their dignity that might already be diminishing.

Believe you have the power to affect change

We want to be the ones in capes doing the heroic acts of service, but more often than not, change is a movement. It’s like a ripple effect; casting a small pebble is what causes the movements to grow larger and larger. The most effective changes are those made with long-term commitment to a long-term need.

Do not grow weary in what may feel like minuscule, meaningless acts or words, for those are the ones, if continually believed in, that will grow beyond what we could’ve ever imagined.

Giving is never a bad thing because it requires us to practice the art of sharing, and that generally implies loving. Remember that as you give yourself into other people, either directly or indirectly, you are investing life into life. And that is a gift.

Major Marjorie Francis Hodge

Major Marjorie Francis Hodge


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