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The new year is upon us and that means we are all starting off strong on our New Year’s resolutions, right? Ok, New Year’s resolutions may not always stick, but what if that resolution didn’t only help you, but made a difference in the world as well? Sometimes, the idea of trying to make the world better can seem so overwhelming that many of us just don’t try at all. What’s the point when there is so much suffering? How can I make a difference when there is so much work to do? And let’s be honest, doing good doesn’t always pay well. That’s why so many charitable organizations are understaffed. Every penny counts when your company is funded by donations, which often means the people who are trying to do the most in this world have the least amount of resources to work with. You may not have extra money on hand to donate but your time and energy can be even more valuable to many organizations around the world.

Do you know how much just an extra person answering the phones for a day can mean to an animal sanctuary? A lot! Or consider if you were to spend an extra day car-pooling people to a local beach clean-up. Then you are making it possible for that group to get their work accomplished. You may think these are small tasks when in fact, they are what make the larger picture possible. Not only do you grow as a person, when you volunteer you influence your peers, family and community to give back too. And that’s just the beginning!

Meet Other Great People

One of the best parts of volunteering is meeting other awesome people like yourself. What’s better than walking into a room full of generous people who have a shared interest with you? There is nothing like the sense of community you get when you are with a group of people who are all learning as they go and are working together to accomplish the same goal.

Amp Up That Resume!

When you have volunteer work on your resume potential employers will take notice. Your volunteer activities help to show another side of who you are. Maybe your work history says you’ve been sitting at a desk for the last five years but your volunteer activities give potential employers a chance to see who you really are. It also gives you a way to showcase your other skills such as event planning or public speaking.

It’s Good For Your Health

Volunteering is like green juice for your soul. Multiple studies have linked volunteering to improvements in mood and overall well-being. A study by United Health Group found that volunteering increases self-esteem and helps people manage their stress levels. In fact, 94 percent of the people surveyed who had volunteered in the last twelve months said volunteering improves their mood. Whether it’s because you feel good about what you’re doing or because the activity is taking your mind off of whatever problems you have, volunteering is a win-win.

Kindness is Contagious

A funny thing happens when you start doing good things for the world. You’ll find that people want to be a part of those new good vibes you start giving off. When friends and family hear you talk about your volunteer adventures it inspires them to either join you or seek their own. There’s nothing like an Instagram of you and a baby piglet to make everyone you know want to go work on a farm. When you show people the good that you are doing for others and the benefits you are also reaping for yourself it opens their eyes to the possibility of their own value.

How to Start?

There are thousands of organizations out there waiting for someone just like you to offer your help. You just have to decide what you feel most enthusiastic about. If you want to help four-legged companion animals, check out your local shelter for volunteer opportunities. Want to do your part to help wild animals? Check out these organizations making a difference. Want to help farm animals? Check out the life lessons you can learn from volunteering on a farm animal sanctuary here. You can even help animals on a volunteer vacation. Looking to get involved in park or beach cleanups? Click here and type in your location.

With all of this good stuff, you could almost forget the biggest reason to volunteer of all. We volunteer for animals because much of our human impact on the planet has impacted their lives and they do not have the ability to speak up for themselves. Volunteer work not only helps you build new skills and make new friends, it’s also extremely rewarding to see a few hours of your time create lasting effects for animals.

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