International Volunteer Day takes place on December 5th each year and is celebrated in a majority of countries throughout the world. Its main goal is not only to thank volunteers for their efforts, but to encourage everyone to get involved and make a difference in their own communities.
The day has been observed since 1985, when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution marking the global celebration. For the past quarter century, governments, businesses and non-profit organizations have contributed to International Volunteer Day through a host of activities, including community projects, parades marches and rallies, award ceremonies for volunteers, and of course, volunteering activities.
Many counties have also utilized International Volunteer Day to focus volunteers’ time to help achieve the targets of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which aim to combat hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. Representatives from the media and academia, faith groups and even sporting and recreational organizations are often involved as well.
This makes International Volunteer Day sound like a celebration where only the big players are involved. But don’t let this stop you from getting together with your friends and volunteering or holding an event in your own community, because the bulk of the day’s activities really take place at the local level. Small groups of people all over the world will be volunteering their time in a variety of activities.
How about yourself? What will you and your friends and family do this December 5th? Volunteer with a local non-profit organization, a hospital, or environmental group? Hold your own event to raise funds and awareness about an issue you care deeply about? There are a number of groups in your community that need your help. They’re just a phone call away. If you’re not sure who to contact, simply go online and look up some of the non-profit organizations in your town or community.
In fact, why stop on December 5th? For young adults, there are opportunities to travel abroad and work with non-governmental organizations and charitable groups. I have had the pleasure of travelling and volunteering in places like Latin and South America, south-east Asia and central Africa. And believe me, it is a pleasure. You’ll have the chance to take on once in a lifetime experiences and meet people from all over the world. What else could you ask for?
This year’s International Volunteer Day has a very special theme. Just two weeks from now, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to discuss solutions to global warming, air pollution and other serious environmental problems. Recognizing this, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is inviting everyone to join the “Volunteering for Our Planet” campaign and volunteer their time this December 5th to help clean up the environment. There is more information about the programme at www.sealthedeal2009.org/unv.
As I’ve written many times before, volunteerism shouldn’t really be considered “work,” mainly because it’s so much fun! So start making plans for December 5th and get ready to make a difference.
“Together We Can Make A Difference”