“Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There is no financial gain involved. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization, and fun.” – Wikipedia, 2013.
I have been a volunteer for as long as I can remember. As a young child, I remember taking presents and clothes to people in need. I remember selling raffle tickets and lighters for an animal charity. I remember giving food to families in need. I remember collecting food, clothes and blankets for earthquake victims and then driving hundreds of kilometres to deliver them (and losing one of my own shoes in the process!). I remember helping younger children with their reading at school. I remember feeding stray animals on the streets. I remember adopting several stray animals. I remember coaching school teams. I remember picking rubbish off beaches. I remember going to orphanages and holding parties for special needs children. I remember going to old age homes with gifts for the elderly. I remember fundraising for a charity for children with life-threatening diseases. I remember planting trees on a mountain. I remember donating money to several charitable causes – and I generally don’t remember much!
I was obviously brought up by charitable parents, so giving (whether it be my time or possessions or money) is like second nature to me. However, I am by no means a saint! I simply get pleasure out of helping those who are in a less fortunate position than myself. So even though I may not be earning any money as a volunteer, I am in fact gaining several other, more important, benefits. For example, I feel good about myself when I help a person or an animal in need. I get to meet like-minded people and have made very good friends through volunteering. I get to spend my free time doing something I enjoy.
People obviously choose to volunteer for a cause that is close to their heart for some or other reason. So they do it happily and passionately. I can’t imagine anyone volunteering to do something they don’t enjoy doing or won’t enjoy the end result of doing. I mean, I would never volunteer to help animal-abusing chain-smokers with body odour on an airplane to learn how to dance reggae! If Brad Pitt, however, needed a nanny for his children…well, that’s another story!
So, does volunteering make us better people? Possibly. Does volunteering make us feel like better people? Definitely.