The Volunteer Spiritボランティア精神

There are many yardsticks by which to measure a society, and surely volunteering ranks somewhere near the top of the list. It is safe to say that in the United States today, volunteer activities can make the difference between a close-knit community and a divided one.

Let us look at just a few of the typical ways that people join volunteer activities all across America.

The local library is a good place to start. In cities all around the U.S., you can find citizens donating their time to help out at the library, usually by helping librarians with their tasks or holding “story time” book-reading sessions for small children.

Organizing a “car wash” is a common way for youths and teen-agers to volunteer and raise money for club and sports activities. Car washes usually are held in the corner of a large parking lot (like at a supermarket), and the volunteers will give any person’s car a good scrubbing down for a small donation.

Many communities in the U.S. have homeless people, and “food banks” are established to help feed them. Many citizens put in some hours at their local food bank, helping to cook and serve free meals to the community’s less-fortunate residents.

Look around a city’s park on any given weekend and chances are you will find some volunteers of an organization called “
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America” having fun. This is an organization that pairs young men and women as mentors to young boys and girls, respectively, who need a positive role model in their lives. Started 100 years ago in 1904, Big Brothers/Big Sisters claims in 2004 to have served “more than 225,000 youth ages five through 18, in 5,000 communities across the country, through a network of 470 agencies.”

Places of worship — churches, temples, synagogues — are also a beehive of volunteer activity in the U.S. It is not uncommon to see members of a religious organization in a city giving freely of their time for a “bake sale” (where baked goods are sold to passersby) or a raffle drawing, with donations going to worthy causes.

So, why do Americans spend so much time volunteering? There may be a million reasons, depending on the person and group. One main reason may simply be that citizens want to give back something positive to the community in which they live. Plus, helping others just makes you feel good!