Posts Tagged ‘Volunteer’

Making The Holidays Meaningful

Friday, November 7th, 2008


While the holidays may inspire thoughts of volunteering your family's
time to help others, your ever-expanding to-do list may keep you from
actually checking the newspaper for volunteer opportunities or picking
up the phone. But don’t wait until next year. Right now, there are
dozens of kid-friendly volunteer opportunities available — right near
your home.

When I visited the Web site for VolunteerMatch,
a national non-profit organization, I simply typed in my ZIP code,
chose how far I was willing to travel, and found a whopping 192
volunteer opportunities — all within 10 miles of my front door.
Volunteers in my home town can read stories to homeless children in a
family housing shelter, raise funds for wildlife conservation, deliver
hot meals to house-bound seniors, create encouraging cards for people
with life-threatening illnesses (something even younger children can
help with) and much more.

Interested? Just sign-up, via e-mail, on the spot. (Non-profit
organizations who wish to list volunteer opportunities can simply go to
the "post" section of the site to register.) VolunteerMatch offers a
huge database of volunteer opportunities, with more than 36,000
listings from approximately 35,000 national, regional and local
organizations.

As a result, the site has amassed a matchmaking record that would make
even Cupid a little envious: The service, which is free to both
volunteers and organizations, was first launched in 1998. To date, more
than 2,300,000 matches have been made between volunteers and non-profit
organizations nationwide.

The site is a piece of cake to use. And because organizations can post
their needs at a moment’s notice, enthusiastic volunteers can be
identified quickly — often the same day. No computer? No excuse. The
nice folks at VolunteerMatch will be glad to help you find your perfect
match. Call 415-241-6868. (Sorry, there’s no toll-free number
available.)

According to VolunteerMatch president Deborah Dinkelacker, the
organization started as a simple philanthropic idea to connect
volunteers with charities. "Now the Web site is a viable tool for
assisting anyone or anything — disaster victims, children in need, the
hungry, endangered animals, the environment — that benefits from the
services of volunteers," she says.

“Our goal is to make it easier for people to volunteer," Dinkelacker
adds. Whether you and your family have an hour this afternoon or a full
day every week to volunteer, “there's an organization that can benefit
from your help.”

Check out these family-friendly volunteer opportunities:

°    Kids’ Planet — Click on “Defend It” on the home page followed by “Fundraise It” to help raise money to help protect the environment.

°    Kids Can Make a Difference — To help end poverty and hunger.

°    Meals on Wheels — To help bring hot meals to seniors. (Children are welcome to
accompany their parents in making deliveries and spreading cheer.)

Sign up now, and your family will quickly learn, in a positive way, how
to keep the season’s craziness in perspective. And your kids will have
learned a great deal about the power — and the pleasure — of giving.
There’s no better way to teach a child that the gift of his time, and
his heart, is one that will be most welcome — in any season.


Tips For Volunteering Wisely:

The USA Freedom Corp Volunteer Network, along
with parents who have successfully volunteered with their kids, suggest
the following tips for a more successful volunteer experience for you
and your family:


°    Think about the causes or issues that are important to you.
Your
family might already be giving money to an organization that is
important to you, and that might be a good place to begin your
volunteer experience.


°     Consider the skills your family has to offer.
Some positions
require volunteers who have previous familiarity with certain
equipment, for example. Are your kids old enough to take on the
challenges of the volunteer position you’re considering?


°     Combine your goals.
Look for volunteer opportunities that will
also help your family achieve your other goals. For example, if you
want to stay fit, pick an active volunteer opportunity, such as
cleaning a park. Or, for families with older kids, try volunteering at
a food bank that teaches cooking skills.


°     Don't over-commit your schedule.
Make sure the volunteer hours
you want to give fit into your hectic life, so that you don't frustrate
your family, exhaust yourself or shortchange the organization you're
trying to help.