By Mary Beth Harrington
This Sunday, December 5e, was International Volunteer Day, (# IVD2021) a project of the United Nations Volunteers Program (UNV) which, according to their website, “recognizes and promotes the tireless work, not only of United Nations Volunteers, but of volunteers around the world.” This year’s theme # IVD2021 “Volunteer Now for Our Common Future” encourages all of us to act now, whether small or large scale for the future of our planet and future generations. I will try to do my part by including volunteer opportunities in this column.
What would you like to know
According to the site # IVD2021:
- 70% of volunteer work does not involve any organization but is done informally between people in their communities.
- Social isolation is one of the main risk factors for depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a strong support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression.
- Research indicates that, compared to people who have never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” increased by 7% among those who volunteer once a month and by 12% among those who do. volunteering every 2-4 weeks.
- To learn more about # IVD2021 go to https://www.un.org/en/observances/volunteer-day
A word about food bank donations.
No surprise, I’m in favor of donating to the local food bank (for most readers that would be the Thurston County Food Bank http://thhurstoncountyfoodbank.org/ ). Recently I’ve seen discussions on social media about what to give the food bank, peanut butter vs. macaroni and cheese, etc. Before you start cleaning your pantry, here’s what you need to know.
What would you like to know
While it is wonderful to donate products to the food bank, it is best to donate money. Food banks are exceptionally good at converting your $ 1 into $ 3, so monetary donations go beyond commodities, for example, the money allows the food bank to buy fresh food for their customers. Plus, many food bank customers follow restrictive diets, so peanut butter or macaroni and cheese isn’t for everyone.
Make the most of your freebies
I know that finding the perfect gift can be tough. I like to make the job even more difficult by making sure that the donation also supports a non-profit organization! Recently, I participated in online fundraising auctions supporting several nonprofits in the area, including Arbutus Folk School. https://arbutusfolkschool.org/, Historic Seaport of Grays Harbor https://historicalseaport.org, Concern for animals https://www.concernforanimals.org/ and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium https://www.pdza.org. Online auctions are a great way to find unique gifts. Here’s a tip, be careful with gift baskets because there are often several gifts included. You can give the basket as is or divide it for several people, including yourself!
Here is more you can do
Another great way to support nonprofits with your holiday giveaways is by purchasing gift cards, experiences, memberships, or donating on behalf of someone. When it comes to gift cards, in most cases, even if a nonprofit doesn’t actively promote the sale of gift cards, you can work with them to develop a gift certificate. Consider offering a gift certificate to a local theater production such as the Olympia Little Theater http://www.olympialittletheater.org/ If you are unsure of the date or of a particular show, consider offering a subscription like Harlequin Productions https://harlequinproductions.org/support/ or the Hands On Children museum https://www.hocm.org/. Finally, for that person who really has it all, consider a donation in their honor. For example, this year we are offering a goat via Heifer International https://www.heifer.org/ to my father-in-law (I hope he won’t read this).
I’ll provide you with additional ways to support nonprofits during this giveaway season in next week’s column, but if you have any ideas, please share them with me.
Open house at the Low Vision Clinic this Saturday
The Olympia Host Lions Club Foundation invites you to join them for a celebration of their renovated center this Saturday, December 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Corbin Low Vision Resource Center (LVRC), located at 2103 Harrison Ave NW in Olympia, is the only low vision resource center in western Washington. The LVRC, run entirely by volunteer Lions Club members, provides free vision enhancement aids. Available equipment includes closed-circuit video magnifiers, portable magnifiers, work lights, talking watches, alarm clocks, telephones, computer keyboards and more.
To find out more, plan to attend this open house or visit their website at https://olympiahostlions.org/low-vision-resources
Solicit your ideas
If you know of a non-profit organization that is doing something right, celebrating success, needing exceptional volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!
Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and individual organizations to articulate the issues facing nonprofits. Send him your ideas at MaryBeth@theJOLTnews.com