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OPINION: The importance of volunteering

By Emily Risner

Volunteering is critical to the successful operation of many different organizations in need of aid. Some people view volunteering as work, and they only volunteer if it is a requirement of some sort.  But volunteering is very helpful in a lot of ways. It is important for people to volunteer as much as they can.

Different programs rely on volunteers to support their services. These programs need the extra help and cannot afford to pay people to assist them. Some of these places include Feed my Starving Children, Batavia Food Pantry, Northern Illinois Food Bank, and Lazarus House.

“I think that when people are able to make a change or to help others, they should,” said BHS Interact Club leader Haley Nickolaou. “There are many organizations and programs that can’t function without the help of volunteers; in some cases, they are the foundation.”

Volunteering not only helps the organization, it may also help instill new values in the one who volunteered, possibly making them a better person. Volunteering strengthens people’s leadership skills and it demonstrates respect for others. By offering to lend a hand to an organization, volunteers understand how fortunate they are and how much people depend on them.

“Volunteering can help a person realize the impact that he/she can make as an individual,” Nickolaou said. “Depending on where you are volunteering, it can really open your eyes. Whether you are helping someone who is less fortunate and you become more appreciative of the things that you have, or you are helping out at an event and you see the amount of work that it takes to make something a success, I think you learn from each volunteer experience.”

Along with the possibility of making someone a better person, after they are finished volunteering, the volunteer is left with a good feeling knowing that he or she was able to help out the community.

“I think there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with volunteering,” Nickolaou said. “You’ve taken some time out of your day to help someone else or to do something good for others. It is easy to be consumed by the negative things in life and when you volunteer and see others volunteering, it almost serves as a reminder to look for the good.  Being the club sponsor for Interact, I see so many students helping out at such a variety of opportunities; I can’t help but smile.”

Some people volunteer because they want their college application to look good. It is true that colleges look for students that have completed a lot of community service. But even if that is originally the main reason those students volunteered, it still should make them feel good about themselves and help them build character.

“I hesitate to advertise volunteer opportunities by saying ‘It looks good on college applications’ but in reality, it does,” Nickolaou said. “My hope is that students may start volunteering for that reason, but realize the importance and impact of it, and then decide to continue beyond just what’s needed for the college application.”

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