After just getting back from packing 500 lunches for children during a Spring Break, where they would not otherwise have any food at all, I have a few thoughts to share with you. Now, this is by far not my first time to do this, but something is sparked in me each time. Something that I simply cannot contain. I am energized and enthusiastic that our community came together to feed children. You see, they normally get free breakfast and lunch during the school day, but what happens when school is out?! The answer, they may or may not eat. That’s where they need people like us. They need someone, anyone, to step up and help. You see, they are products of their situation, a situation they would not choose if they had a choice. I had the opportunity to help and I am so glad I did!

This situation is not an isolated one. There are opportunities everywhere! Parks that need to be cleaned up, food that needs to be served to those without homes, parents who could use a break and have a sitter they couldn’t afford, elderly people who need assistance with basic things such as mowing their yard. You see, if you will take the time to look, there are needs everywhere around you. What happens though, I have found out, is that it is you who walk away with a smile on your face. It will be you who will benefit the most from volunteering. It does not matter where you volunteer, or what you do…just get out there and do it.

You may have no experience, little experience, or this may be something you do on a regular basis. I would just encourage you to do it! I have learned many things from volunteering, and so I decided to share my list with you. I want it to inspire you to get out there and volunteer. Find a need, put it on your calendar, and do not cancel. Treat this appointment as so important you simply cannot miss it; then, you will find out why!

Reasons to volunteer:

1. Gets you out in the community

Getting out into the community is great! It helps you really feel a sense of belonging. It can also boost your pride in where you live. After all, we live in a great country with wonderful towns and cities everywhere!

2. Helps you make new connections/friends

Expand your circle! You can either just work nicely with others for a couple of hours, form a new acquaintance, or even expand your network – you choose! Getting to know others in your community helps you to stay “plugged in” to the things going on around you.

3. Helps to remind you that EVERYONE has value

Giving to others makes them feel important, appreciated, and valued. We ALL want to feel valued. It does not matter what socioeconomic status you hold or they hold, everyone has an inner need to feel loved.

4. Helps to fight depression/self-centeredness

Volunteering helps you to focus on others. Getting your mind off of your situations and problems is one easy way to fight depression. We also tend to live in a very self-centered society; volunteering simply takes your mind off of yourself and put it on others who need you.

5. Makes you put that phone down

In our techno-centered society, putting your devices down and rolling up your sleeves to work helps us all to REALLY connect with others.

Again, the need is out there – EVERYWHERE! You can donate one hour, one day, or one week.

Helping others really is good for you!

Featured photo credit: Fort George Meade Public Affairs Office via flickr.com

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