The Volunteer Spirit

The holiday season is past. And with it went our generous yearly visitor once again, our favorite, unpaid benefactor, the one who enriches children and adults alike, all at his own expense. And apparently he does it all just because he just loves doing it… according to the legend.

Yes, Santa is a volunteer. He fits all the criteria. Volunteering is apparently a lot of fun, even when it makes you fly all the way around the world in a single night. But Santa is not the most unusual volunteer of them all. Consider a couple of these…

✓ The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, PennDOT, wanted to give local police some practice using breathalyzers. So a group of volunteers set out to drink as much beer, wine, or liquor as they could handle. They labored over their civic duty for five full hours. The police got better at the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Thank you volunteers.

✓ Scientists at Oxford University recruited volunteers who were willing to chew on Pringles potato chips to test for crunchiness by recording the sound of their chewing. Best of all, they were paid for every bite. They should have teamed up with the PennDOT team.

✓ In England, at Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds, they recruit volunteers as “Chicken knitters.” They spend all year knitting little yellow chicken suits for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, all to raise funds for charity.

✓ And of course there’s Weymouth Beach where volunteers are needed as Pudding Chasers. To benefit the British Heart Foundation a giant, 6ft-tall pudding runs across the beach and volunteers dressed as an elf, fairy or Santa scamper after it. Just another day at the office for the average volunteer.

Volunteering can be exciting, rewarding and, best of all, surprising.
So this week the Jamestown Gazette invites you to consider the life changing possibilities of giving something of yourself for the benefit of somebody else. Most opportunities will make somebody else’s life a whole lot better …and it will do the same for you.

Pankaj Patel an Indian businessman, chairman and managing director of Cadila Healthcare, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in India and the chairman of a major chain of hospitals, is a well-known philanthropist, a man who volunteers to use his wealth for the good of others. But he told a fundraiser,

“One of the big myths about philanthropy is that it’s all about donating funds for a cause. I like to look at it quite differently. Philanthropy is about ‘giving’ – not just in monetary terms but also in non-monetary aspects, like time, ideas, or being a volunteer. Donating money is just a small part of philanthropy.”

For 2018, Chautauqua County and Greater Jamestown are poised to provide new and even more opportunities to find the reward of service above self. Consider the possibilities.

Happy New Year once again and with the Jamestown Gazette’s first edition of 2018 in your hands, please enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut