Be a Point of Light

January 06, 1995

Go walk a dog. Or pick up litter in a stream. Or tutor a student. Or make friends with an elderly or disabled person.

Make a belated New Year's resolution to become a volunteer.

A few years ago, the nation snickered when President George Bush talked about a "1,000 points of light." But today we no longer can be smug. In the last election, voters made it clear that they want government to do less. Now we all have to be willing to do more.

There are no shortages of volunteer opportunities. Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a listing of organizations which need volunteers. The kinds of services and time commitments demanded are so varied that almost anyone should find something to do.

The Annapolis Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals needs volunteers to walk and groom animals. The Red Cross needs help with its blood drives. The YWCA needs speakers and child care providers. Sea Explorers is looking for adults to teach youngsters seamanship. Save Our Streams needs volunteers to clean up Maryland waterways. Providence Center needs escorts for persons with disabilities.

The list goes on and on. And it doesn't even include the volunteer opportunities with local churches and schools.

It's fine to write a check or toss a few coins into a kettle. The holiday season has a way of bringing out our generosity for those less fortunate.

Certainly no one will refuse your money, but many non-profit groups really need extra hands even more than they need extra cash. And the need for their services is year-round, not just during this time of the calendar.

Maybe you think you don't have enough time to serve as a volunteer. Between work and family, there's hardly a moment to spare. But even a few hours a month can make a big difference. And some of the volunteer opportunities can be taken on as family projects.

You want to know what's in it for you? Volunteering probably will not make you rich or famous. But it does have its rewards -- a wagging tail, a smile of gratitude or simply the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped to make a difference.

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