You can be a volunteer on a schedule of your own

TIME SAVER

January 29, 1995|By Susan Hipsley | Susan Hipsley,Special to The Sun

TC Volunteerism is on a downward slide.

In 1990, 98.4 million people gave time to various volunteer activities. But the very next year saw a decrease of almost 4 million volunteers, and by 1993, only 89.2 million helping hands were extended to those in need, according to surveys conducted by Independent Sector, a research organization.

Are Americans becoming more tight-fisted with their time?

Barbara Lohman, spokeswoman for the Points of Light Foundation in Washington, says: yes and no. Yes, the figures collected don't lie. Formal "do-good" organizations definitely report a decrease in volunteers.

But she feels that more people are giving their time in less traditional, more informal ways that they may not even consider when asked on a survey if they volunteer.

"People do those things every day, things that don't necessarily fall into the category of a national movement," says Ms. Lohman.

Marie Angnardo of Cincinnati, Ohio, discovered 377 ways to help others without joining a formal organization or spending a great deal of time or money. Ms. Angnardo found herself very busy with a job that requires long hours, as well as her continuing education and social life. "But I felt guilty about not contributing something to my community," she says. Not willing to divest herself of any of her activities, she started thinking of ways to give without giving up something else, and then she published her list: "377 Simple Ways You Can Make a Difference" (Helping Hand Publishers).

Here are some of her suggestions:

* Help a needy family pay the gas and electric bill. Call your local welfare office to find a household in danger of having its power turned off. Make arrangements with the gas and electric company in cooperation with the welfare office to pay the bill. This can be done without the recipient knowing your name.

* Give information on employment opportunities to someone who's looking for a job.

* Leave a nice message on the answering machine of someone who lives alone. Coming home to an empty place can be more pleasant when the message light is blinking.

* When you give your next party, ask guests to bring canned goods for a local food pantry.

L * Write someone else's name when you mail in a rebate offer.

* Collect a dollar once a month from willing co-workers and decide together on an organization to receive it.

IN TIME

What do you do to save time, to make life easier? What have you cut down on or cut out to make more time for yourself and your family? Have you found a way to simplify your lifestyle? Call the Sundial number that follows to tell us your tips and thoughts. Future columns will feature your ideas. Be sure to leave your name, city of residence and daytime phone number when you call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6220 after you hear the greeting.

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