Charity needs to continue year-round


By Lisa Lillianstrom

During the holiday season, the amount of people who volunteer increases 2 percent according to a 2013 American Time Use Survey. While this number seems small, it shows people are more inclined to volunteer around the holidays. However, people should continue to volunteer year-round because the needs of those less fortunate do not end when the holidays do.

About 554,000 people were reported homeless in 2017, according to the 2017 U.S. Housing and Urban Development Annual Report, and an estimated 360,000 were in homeless shelters or transitional housing.

With shelters housing an abundance of people year-round, shelters are in need of a lot of help.

Charity work is not exclusively needed around the holidays; it is needed year-round. Every day, there are people in need of help.

“Sadly, issues of food insecurity, starvation and homelessness exist every day and need our ongoing support,” Madelyn Anderson, instructor in the Department of Communication at NIU, said. “Nonprofit organizations and programs function throughout the year and need our support every day.”

Whether the contributions are time, money or clothing, every little bit helps. No one knows what a person is going through, and giving them support can make a difference.

There are many places to volunteer at in the DeKalb and Sycamore area, so depending on what a person is passionate about and what they are interested in, they can go to different organizations to make a difference.

“Volunteering means pouring out support to people who are in need. These needs vary from not having food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to sleep and much more,” Courtney Rieb, senior elementary education major, said. “Volunteering means lending a helping hand, having a conversation with a person who needs someone to talk to or cleaning up the environment.”

Not only does volunteering help others, but it also can make someone feel good about themselves.

“I think it’s important to volunteer year-round because it makes you feel good about yourself, and there’s always a time when there’s someone out there that needs help,” Syndi Edwards, junior physical therapy major, said. “I believe it makes you all around a better person when you volunteer.”

Feed My Starving Children packs meals for children around the world who may need it the most, and students can go to the Aurora location, 555 Exchange Court, which is an hour drive from the NIU campus.

There are also MobilePack events located at various locations based on who is hosting the event. These locations can be found on the Feed My Starving Children website.

Another organization students can volunteer at is Hope Haven Homeless Shelter, 1145 Rushmoore Drive.

Hope Haven is a homeless shelter which works to provide food and shelter to homeless people. One thing students can do is to donate items such as toiletries and cleaning supplies from a list available online at the Hope Haven website. Also available online are contact numbers for different locations that provide meals and are in need of volunteers.

Edwards said her favorite place to volunteer is within a physical therapy setting. It is her passion and brings her a lot of joy.

The holidays are a good time to give back, but volunteering should extend after the holiday season.

“When holiday lights are turned off and decorations are put away, the need for volunteer support through time and talent still exists,” Anderson said.