My husband, son and I had the privilege of traveling to Abbotsford, BC last week to volunteer with the Fraser Valley Gleaners. Let me tell you a little about them and about our experience:
Fraser Valley Gleaners make available for distribution a nutritious dried soup mix and dried apple snacks that have made their way to over 40 countries. They receive donated produce from the Lower Mainland area, from Washington, Oregon and Northern BC. They partner with reputable relief and development agencies to distribute the final product worldwide. Volunteers are an integral part of the process. Volunteers prepare the donated produce by removing blemishes, washing, dicing, placing product on trays, loading dryers, storing dried product, also assembling, packaging and shipping the final product. We were fortunate to experience all aspects of the process, and one day shipped 1 Million soup servings to Ethiopia!
We have never seen or sliced so many peppers, tomatoes, onions and potatoes. It was a very valuable experience for our family, knowing that by giving of our time we were providing nutritious food to so many in need all over the world. We as a family believe strongly in volunteering and have been involved in many different organizations.
There are so many benefits to volunteering, some may surprise you.
Meet new people. Dedicating your time allows you to expand your social network, make new friends and it combats loneliness for those who live alone. Connecting with others and connecting in your community help to make it a better place. Even the smallest tasks can benefit people, or animals or organizations in need.
Good for your mental and physical health. Volunteering can help boost your self-confidence and give you a sense of purpose. It relieves stress, improves anxiety and depression. Researchers have discovered that being helpful to others makes us happy, the more we give – the happier we feel. Those who volunteer are often more physically active, may have lower blood pressure and may live longer more fulfilling lives.
You don’t have to travel far away to volunteer. In our local newspaper there is a section of volunteer opportunities. You can do some research on the internet, there are many sites that list organizations in need of volunteers.
Many organizations depend on volunteers, no matter what your interest or skills - there is something for everyone.