Celebrate National Volunteer Month
April is known for rain showers and spring holidays, but there’s another hallmark of this month to help you kick off the season: It’s National Volunteer Month! Though it’s been celebrated since the 1940s, many don’t know about this important call to get out and do some good to support your community. Learn more about National Volunteer Month, as well as National Volunteer Week, and how to participate below.
What Is National Volunteer Month?
National Volunteer Month is a spring tradition all can look forward to. It gained official recognition in the early 1990s as a month to inspire volunteerism and recognize the efforts of community volunteers. President George H.W. Bush helped bring recognition with the Points of Light organization dedicated to volunteer service. Since then, millions have committed to volunteering their time to worthy efforts this time of year. And, it’s not just the causes that benefit—research has shown that helping others increases happiness, self-esteem and a sense of belonging for the volunteer. It’s a win-win.
What Is National Volunteer Week?
Every April, a particular week is also chosen as the official National Volunteer Week. While the entire month is focused on volunteerism, National Volunteer Week is specially dedicated to recognizing and honoring volunteers. It often goes overlooked that volunteer efforts can and do impact communities for the better. Many local fire departments are staffed largely by volunteers. Shelters are kept running by volunteers. Emergency hotlines, senior homes, hospitals, schools and soup kitchens are all places that benefit from volunteerism, not to mention local nonprofit organizations, like 4-H and United Way of the National Capital Area. The kindness and commitment of a few willing people can change lives, and this is the week to honor the efforts of these people.
This year, National Volunteer Week falls on April 17 through April 23 (it tends to be the third week of the month). Find out how you can celebrate below.
How to Participate in National Volunteer Month
While all organizations appreciate financial and material donations, if you prefer to take a hands-on approach, there are plenty of big and small ways to get involved in National Volunteer Month. Whatever you do, every little bit helps, so even if you don’t have much time to spare, you’re making a difference to someone. Consider the following:
- Serve food or help clean up at your local shelter or soup kitchen
- Provide tutoring to local students
- Offer to stock shelves or read to children at your library
- Put your love of pets to use at an animal shelter
- Coach a local sports team
- Put together care packages for military members or those in need
- Provide free transportation to interviews or appointments for those without a vehicle
- Join a group dedicated to picking up trash in parks or along the highway
- Assist with voter registration
- Organize a fundraiser for a good cause
- Serve food, help clean or provide entertainment and companionship at a senior home or hospital
United Way NCA also provides many volunteer opportunities during National Volunteer Month, including personal protective equipment kit packing, food drives, financial literacy kit projects and vaccine clinics.
There are many ways to help, no matter where you are or even your age. If you’re short on time, simply saying, “Thank you,” to volunteers goes a long way.
Local Volunteer Opportunities in the Washington, DC Area
United Way NCA proudly supports volunteerism in the DC area. There are a variety of ways to use your time, skills and talents locally to help others, from general acts of kindness to providing mentoring to helping people who are struggling to meet their basic needs.
You can learn more about local Washington, DC volunteer opportunities on our Volunteer in DC page. There, you can also sign up on our volunteer platform to access and get involved in volunteer opportunities, including volunteer events hosted by United Way NCA throughout National Volunteer Month.
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