As the weather becomes more crisp and the leaves on the ground have a certain crunch to them, we all start to plan and prepare for the Holiday Season. For many of us that means decorating, preparing themed meals, and ensuring that our homes are in order for the copious amounts of company we will entertain over the next two months.
For others, the colder air represents a time of year where we are more in tuned with the needs of the community, and the noisy leaves under our feet remind us that there is much work to be done to enrich the lives of others.
38% of those who donate to charity or spend time volunteering said that they are more likely to do so during the holiday season. That fact is not one that is particularly astounding; but consider the idea that over 50% of those who volunteer during the holiday season do so to meet a personal need as opposed to satisfying a need in their community. While there is in increase in community involvement throughout the holiday season, these numbers show that there is still a lack of understanding the needs of the community.
Volunteering is one of those anomaly actions. It can be both selfless and selfish. It can provide a personal sense of accomplishment, while accomplishing something greater than one’s self. So what are the motivators of volunteering? Why do so many people get up and get out, especially during the holiday season, to make their world better?
There are hundreds of needs to meet in the community at any given point in the year. The need for cans of creamed corn does not diminish after Thanksgiving (and yes, there is a such thing as too much creamed corn in food pantries). What happens the day after Thanksgiving, or on December 26th? Have all of our volunteer efforts in the previous two months solved the community’s problems until the next Thanksgiving?
The notion of doing something good during the holiday season has great intention, but the execution can (literally) leave much to be desired for the other 10 months of the year. So the question arises again; knowing that volunteering can be both selfless and selfish, what are the motivators of volunteering, especially during the holiday season?
The goal is not to discourage you from volunteering during the holiday season; rather, the goal is to remind you that there are needs that go beyond our selfish needs of accomplishment. Volunteering, first and foremost, is about meeting a community need. A byproduct of volunteering is a sense of accomplishment, but this should not be the driving factor in any decision to get involved in your community.
Hopefully, in a couple of months, when many of us are trading the crisp air for the sand and sun of the beach, we remember that there are still people experiencing hunger, and food pantries that need to be stocked, children that need adequate supplies for education, and any number of people suffering with illness and chronic health issues. Hopefully, in a couple of months, we look around and remember the feeling we currently have to get involved; but this time do it, simply because it needs to be done.