Volunteer work benefits the community in many ways. But it’s a little-known fact that volunteering pays back many benefits to the do-gooders as well. In a busy world where few people feel that they have enough time to complete their daily tasks, volunteer work can provide refreshing clarity about the importance of connecting with communities. Volunteering is not just for adults; it can also bring families closer, enriching children’s lives immensely.

Many may wonder, “Who has the time to volunteer?” And volunteering for a project can seem like an overwhelming responsibility, which many people are not interested in adding to their already-full plates. Surprisingly, though, people who volunteer their time report feeling that they have more time in their lives when they complete their charitable work. Is volunteerism the key to time dilation? Or is it the case that by focusing your time on purposeful activities, that you gain more control over your perceptions of time? Whatever the reason, it’s clear that charity work benefits outweigh any burden that the work might impose.

When you volunteer, you have additional opportunities to build new skills. Unlike an occupation where you might stick to your job duties, volunteer work can take you in other directions and open you to developing new skills. And often, volunteer work lets you get your hands dirty. This sort of physical volunteer work, such as helping a church with spring cleanup or building homes with Habitat for Humanity, creates healthy bodies in addition to serving others.  Volunteer work also can add experience to your resume. Sometimes you can enter a new profession based on your experiences doing volunteer work. And overall, charity work makes volunteers happy, builds empathy, and provides a new source of socializing.

And kids can similarly benefit from volunteer experience. While children can’t volunteer in every situation, such as work that involves heavy lifting or unsupervised efforts at a homeless shelter, there are numerous opportunities for children to share their abilities. Children of all ages can help those in need, even if it means folding papers or returning bottles for charity. And just as adults can develop skills through volunteering, children can learn new things including empathy, tolerance, and respect. Many high school children use their volunteer experience to propel them into college and to do charitable work later in their lives.

And by becoming involved in volunteer work as a family, you’re able to teach your kids the true meaning of giving by doing it with them. Many families search for activities that go beyond family game night and watching TV together. Volunteering creates whole-family projects that can unite the family for years.

One excellent way to get families into volunteering is to become involved in community gardens. Community gardens are group efforts to ensure that neighborhoods have access to healthy food. If your area doesn’t already have a community garden, or if you’re looking to establish a source of nutritious food for another neighborhood, it’s possible to create one.

Community gardens can combine physical effort while developing organizational and outreach skills. They provide experience in high levels of organization and project management, too.

There are ample opportunities for children to get involved in gardening as well. KidsGardening is an organization that has been around for 35 years which provides information on gardening and community outreach specifically for children.

Volunteering is an ideal way to give back to your community and benefit from the kind deeds yourself. Involve your entire family in community outreach and other charitable works and realize these benefits in your home.

The Kendall County Community Food Pantry is always looking for hard-working, caring volunteers. Learn more here.

… Amanda Henderson


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