Most Americans think of Thanksgiving as a time for feasting, relaxing with family, and (sometimes) preparing for Black Friday the following day. However, we all know that the original purpose of Thanksgiving was to reflect on the positive opportunities and adventures that have come about in our lives. While it is important to remember the true reason for Thanksgiving, what about those who are less fortunate than you? Volunteering is a great activity to partake in during any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season; we realize how blessed our own lives are by helping others who are less well off.
There are many volunteer opportunities available for families, large groups, and even just single people. Some examples of volunteer work include delivering meals to home-bound people or the homeless, picking up trash, helping teach and mentor younger community members, helping with animals adoptions and feedings, building houses, and of course bell ringing for the holiday season. No matter whom you are with or where you volunteer, you are having a gigantic impact on the well-being and health of your community. In 2012, one in four adults (or 26.5%) volunteered in America. That equates to about 7.9 billion hours, which then equates to nearly $175 billion in economic value.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year only 25.4% of Americans 16 and older had volunteered with an organization at least once; this is the lowest the number has been since the Bureau first started keeping track in 2002. Image what the world would be like without volunteers. What needs would go unmet within our communities? What learning opportunities would be missed? Whether you realize it or not, you cross pass with at least one volunteer a day. The holiday season is the perfect time to help out. There is no better way to remember your blessing than to volunteer to help those around you.
If you are unsure about where to start with volunteering, a great website to go to is Volunteer Match. The website allows you to search for causes you care about then matches you with organizations closest to your location.