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According to Doug Donovan at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, here. the number of volunteers in the United States is at its highest level since 2005.

“More than one-quarter of Americans did volunteer work in 2011, providing 7.9 billion hours of service worth $171 billion. …

“The 1.5 million additional volunteers boosted the national rate to 26.8 percent of the population, a half percentage point higher than 2010. But the dollar value dipped by $2 billion, as the average number of hours Americans volunteered in a year dropped to 32.7 from 33.9, the Corporation for National and Community Service reported.

“Robert Grimm, director of the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Maryland, said the increase was mainly the result of the growth in the American population, not a response to the economy or other factors.”

Well, that’s too bad. People who don’t squeeze some sort of volunteer work into their lives are missing out. If you find an opportunity that works for you, it can be very satisfying.

Where I work, people have been volunteering for years at an inner city school, and the experience just gets better and better. Not only do we feel like we are really helping the kids improve their skills, but we enjoy building friendships with others in our organization as we ride the van to our destination.

I don’t want to make my volunteering to sound like a bigger deal than it is. Each person gives only about an hour and a half a month, overlapping with lunchtime. My point is that even a little bit can make a difference for someone, especially when combined with the efforts of others. One and one and 50 make a million.

Photograph: Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal/AP
Three volunteers share a laugh while they serve home-cooked meal to residents of Memphis Towers, an independent living community for the elderly and disabled in Memphis, Tenn, Dec. 10, 2012.

 

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