A very dear friend of mine helped open my eyes a few years ago to the overwhelming satisfaction and importance of giving back in some way to something bigger than ourselves. By volunteering. While I had always volunteered with my daughters classes by doing manual tasks at home when I could, I never quite immersed myself in the true spirit of volunteering. My eldest daughter however, from the age of 9, had always requested to not have gifts given to her at her birthdays, but asked rather for donations she could give to our local Humane Society. Never an idea that was given to her, it was just something she did. A volunteer is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.” I am so proud to say she has embodied this spirit (when it comes to animals) from a very young age.
Volunteering isn’t necessarily ‘instinctual’ for everyone however. For me it started relatively small, and almost in a way I didn’t recognize as volunteering. It was small requests from my selfless friend for help with computer related items, some marketing, brainstorming, photo editing. My friend approached me to see if the girls would be interested in making posters for the organization’s annual fundraiser, and we all jumped at the chance! This particular non-charitable organization happened to be for a small dog rescue, so my animal-loving family was all over the chance to help raise awareness and funds for these voiceless creatures.
It took off from there. The impact of seeing how just a small amount of our time could benefit these animals and an organization so greatly was indescribable. We began fostering small dogs, and of course adopted our first foster – a grouchy, toothless, senior Chihuahua named Poppy that we could not live without – we got our friends involved in fostering, and we continue to help in any way we can. My daughter has weekly shifts at the local animal shelter, and we volunteered as a family over the holidays for the United Way, providing gift-wrapping services to shoppers.
It doesn’t take a monumental commitment, or a financial one, but the significance of a small amount of your time is immeasurable. It serves as a reminder to not only children, but to adults as well, that there is a greater good and a that we all have a commitment to give back to those who need support.
There are so many wonderful resources available to find local volunteering opportunities that target time availability, types of volunteering, interests etc. is a great place to start. No matter how or where you choose to ‘donate’ your time, rest assured the reward and happiness you will feel as a result is invaluable.