Volunteers Bring Holiday Cheer, Give Time Generously Throughout the Year

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
With the holidays upon us, many community activities are in the works that will brighten the season. Volunteers and community organizations are planning to cook and serve warm holiday meals, coat and mitten drives are being organized, and others are coordinating the delivery of gifts to families for Christmas who are in need, to name a few.

Without volunteers and the generosity of many, these efforts would not be possible.

Often, they are the community’s unsung heroes, with some quietly donating hundreds of hours each year to different causes.

From the Red Cross to Catholic Charities, churches, to local schools and libraries, volunteers ensure that these important organizations and efforts continue and people nearby do not spend the holidays alone, for example.

Whatever the cause, large or small, volunteering contributes to a better quality of life for the volunteer and to those who are assisted by their efforts.

Studies show volunteering is a primary way to bring communities together and helps alleviate many social problems.

It also saves money for organizations and can be good for the volunteer’s health.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015.

Volunteers spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities during the same time period.

This adds up to about 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $184 billion.

If you or someone you know would like to get involved with a nonprofit charity, organizations like RSVP, which stands for Retired Senior Volunteer Program, can provide direction.

RSVP provides volunteer opportunities for individuals 55 years of age or older.

Prospective volunteers are interviewed and, based on their interests and experience, volunteers are offered positions at non-profit agencies and healthcare facilities.

In Oswego County, RSVP can be reached at 315-312-2317.

In Onondaga County, RSVP can be reached at 315-424-6079.

United Way also acts as a clearinghouse for volunteers of all ages and can match those willing to help with organizations in need.

Their local websites list many organizations which accept volunteers such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities, to name a few.

Volunteers are also able to contact organizations directly to see how they can help in many causes.

In Onondaga County, residents can contact the United Way of Central New York at http://unitedway-cny.org/ or call 428-2211.

In Oswego County, residents can contact the United Way of Oswego County at http://www.oswegounitedway.org/ or call 315-593-1900.

In Jefferson County, residents can visit http://www.unitedway-nny.org or call 315-788-5631.

I continue to be humbled by the generosity of many in this great community.

I hope you and your loved ones have a Happy Thanksgiving and are able to share in the spirit of giving this holiday season.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.