Recently our team was asked if we would be interested in volunteering locally as a group. All of us said we would definitely pitch in. Hence the idea for this blog came to life. Since 2015, SOM Footwear has donated shoes to www.clothingacrossamerica.org, an organization that aids shelters, clothing banks, and emergency relief organization. SOM also contributes to silent auctions of local non-profit organizations but it is now hoping to give time when possible. We have been asked to volunteer at a local kitchen that provides meals daily to those in need. Other volunteering ideas were also discussed during our staff meeting.
Volunteering to help a community can be very rewarding. Whether you are looking to help on an individual or group basis, or by making a donation, the community being helped will reap the benefits. When volunteering in a group, it can be a social event. The array of activities to choose from makes it easy for everyone to find some way to help a community, whether it is local or not. You could organize a food drive for a food pantry, or a fundraiser for a charity of your choice, you could become a mentor to an adolescent, or help senior citizens...the list is endless. You can even contact an organization like United Way for volunteer opportunities they have in your area. Some churches around the holidays have families in need and are looking for meal donations or Christmas presents for children of families that are less fortunate.
- Why volunteer?
Not only will you feel good helping other people because it is gratifying and rewarding, you are also affecting someone else’s life by giving something back to the community. Choose to volunteer after a weather-related disaster to help with whatever that community may need most. The effect that you have on someone’s life can be remembered and appreciated for a lifetime. This could range from donating food, clothing, furniture and water to helping to clean up. If helping with your time and efforts is of more interest, help build a new home or rebuild a home through Habitat for Humanity, a global non-profit housing organization, where you can learn new skills while lending a hand. Maybe you are rebuilding a home devastated by a tornado or flood. Imagine the smile on that homeowner’s face when they are able to move back into their home.
On a personal level, there are numerous reasons to volunteer. Giving back something to a community is usually at the top of most people’s reasons. There are also other reasons like wanting to enhance or develop skills, making a real difference in someone’s life, or helping the environment. It can also be a team building experience as well as a time to gain self-esteem and confidence. It’s also a great way to learn more about your community and the people around you.
- How to Help
Your decision should be based on what causes are important to you and the way you want to help. Research the organization’s cause and what sort of help they need to ensure it is in line with how you want to help. Do you want to give your time and efforts or make a monetary donation? Making a monetary donation to an organization that is doing research to cure a disease could be a way to help. Do you want to help animals? Rescue organizations rely on volunteers to support every aspect of their work. It really depends on what interests you and the more you are interested the more engaging the whole experience will become.
If simply providing a monetary donation or noncash items is more your style, Charity Navigator is a great resource to research charities. If the organization you’re looking to donate to is unfamiliar, make sure it is a viable company worthy of receiving support. Charity Navigator recommends asking questions before donating. There is a wealth of information on organizations as well as a rating system, complete with an explanation on their methodology for rating. Their website has blogs, top 10 lists, and informative guides.
Act now! Give back! Feel the rewards of volunteering or donating. Help a neighbor or neighborhood in need. It will be worth your effort to help. Below are additional links on volunteering and community service.