Here’s one way to get the most out of your charitable efforts

Here’s one way to get the most out of your charitable efforts

Local volunteer organizations can use your time as well as your contributions to make your own community a better place for all.

There are quite a number of organizations vying for your charitable contributions out there, and because of some negative press about some, let’s just say, less than scrupulous establishments, many people are worried about any donations they make not getting sent to those truly in need.

It is sad to say, but there are organizations and individuals that make their living trying to play on human nature’s desire to help those less fortunate, and to try to profit from the generosity of others.  Most reputable relief efforts encourage you to research their information and make an informed decision about where to send your donation dollars.

But there is a way to give back and it won’t cost you anything and you can be assured the efforts go directly to where you intend them to go.  It’s called being a volunteer.  There are hundreds of ways you can go about becoming a volunteer, and dozens of organizations in your local communities that will help you find the best way for you to help out your fellow citizens in need.

Hospitals, libraries, and youth and senior centers are just a few of the associations that welcome volunteers to help them meet the needs of your own community and their special projects.  Most need volunteers to help bridge the gaps because of funding cuts in hard financial times, but many rely on volunteer help and receive little to no funding from federal or local governments.

I am a volunteer at my local medical center.  I began after retiring from the work force, and I have found it gives me a little sense of being needed again.  I’m sure some of you will feel that I am just offering free labor to the medical center, but I don’t view it in that light at all.  The work I do would be done, whether or not I was willing to do it.  But my efforts take some of the load off the shoulders of the medical professionals, by taking care of the little things, like pushing a patient in and out of the facility in a wheelchair, or providing them with a soft drink or a warm blanket.

Just maybe that little bit of time and effort the nurses and doctors don’t have to expend will allow them to focus a little sharper on the things they are trained to do, and just maybe they won’t be quite as tired at the end of the day, and they can remain non-stressed and responsive to the patient’s needs.

The work I do is insignificant in the scheme of things; I am not finding answers to important questions or making the world a better place.  But maybe every now and then, I can make an individual, who is going through a time of darkness and concern about their health or the health of a loved one, feel as if the world isn’t falling down around them.  At least not right now.

I encourage each of you to take a look around and see if there is a volunteer situation that suits your abilities or looks like something you would enjoy doing.  Maybe teaching a gardening class, helping senior citizens with their taxes, or showing someone how to use spreadsheets or the internet.  I bet there’s a niche for you right outside your own front door.

An hour or two a week, or even a month.  I’ll bet you can squeeze it in somewhere.  It won’t lighten your purse at all, but it will make your heart a little lighter.  Someone once said, volunteers don’t have more time, they just have more heart.

Most volunteers I know seem to get back more than they give.

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