A woman volunteering at a food pantry
January 18, 2016
by Teresa Gruber

Every year we all make one of these and every year, we try to keep it. That’s right, your new year’s resolution. Whether it is to lose weight, exercise more or whatever it may be – most of us start with good intentions and maybe make it a few weeks, but by mid-February, it is a thing of the past. I have often thought why…why do we do this to ourselves…every year? Why can’t we stick to our resolutions?

This year, I think I have figured it out! We usually create resolutions that, although would be good for us, are painful to stick to. What we need to do is simply change the focus and create resolutions that bring us joy, fulfillment and pleasure! How do you accomplish this? Resolve to give of yourself and volunteer!

Feeding America is the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the U.S. Through our network of 200 food banks and 60,000 meal programs, each year two million volunteers monthly help to serve more 46 million people who are in need. This year, in January through March, Feeding America begins the 2016 Volunteer Campaign. We are asking individuals and groups to pledge to volunteer and help in the fight to end hunger in America. The campaign culminates in April, National Volunteer Month. So, whether it is through a repacking event at your local food bank, serving at a local meal program or sharing your professional expertise through skills-based volunteerism, the Feeding America network welcomes your support of our mission to solve hunger.

Why not pledge to volunteer at a local food bank on MLK Jr. Day on Jan. 18, 2016? This day is the first national day of service of the year and is the perfect day to follow through on your resolution! To quote Dr. King, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" It is a day to answer the call to serve others, volunteer and reap the benefits of it.    

Volunteering can provide many benefits. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life according to a report from the Corporation for National & Community Service. In addition, volunteering allows you to build your experience, skill set, and improve your time management abilities. Volunteering can change the lives of others and your life too. According to researchers at the London School of Economics, volunteering builds empathy, strengthens social bonds and makes you smile. Volunteers are happier people!

With all these benefits, why stop there? Why not commit to year-round volunteering following the National Day of Service schedule? You can ask your coworkers, family and friends to join you too. If you need some help scheduling, check out the dates below, which are set aside to recognize volunteering throughout the year:

January – MKL Jr National Day of Service

April – National Volunteer Month

September – 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

November – Family Volunteer Day – Saturday before Thanksgiving

This year, make a New Year’s resolution that you can feel great about and keep all year round. Take the pledge to volunteer and help Feeding America get food in the hands of those who need it most. It doesn’t take a big commitment to make a big difference. You can take the pledge to volunteer with Feeding America at www.feedingamerica.org/volunteer. Working together, we can solve hunger.

*Teresa Gruber is the employee engagement manager at Feeding America.

Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action , Volunteer

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