Charitable organizations are noting that receipts to their coffers have steadily grown over the years, despite the nation’s economic hiccups.
Numbers of volunteers contributing time and effort grew from 59.8 million people in 2002 to 65.4 million volunteers in 2005 in a period they $150 billion in service.
A possible point of concern appears to be the fact that the youth seem to be contributing less time to such pursuits than any other age group. Only 24.4 percent of people aged 16 to 24 actively volunteer, versus the next lowest group being 24.8 percent for people over 65. The number of hours contributed each year by seniors nearly triples that of the youth – 96 hours to 36 hours, respectively – so there is a greater disparity there than would appear at first blush.
People in this general age group vote less than all other groups, they contribute less, and as a result they at least superficially appear apathetic to all that surrounds them.
“It is so hard to find time to do anything but study during the semester, and weekends are my only time to recuperate.” said graduate student Mandy Kujoory, explaining her inability to volunteer. “I volunteered during high school, but life was so much easier then.”
In 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger considered making volunteerism a requirement for college students entering the California school system. This suggestion was poorly received and quickly discarded. The desire to increase volunteerism itself was noble, albeit poorly considered.
“Everyone has their own reason they volunteer. If mandatory service was demanded of students, the result would be a jaded lot who would largely avoid doing anything of the sort again.” Rutgers graduate student Randi Klein said.
Some students volunteer to boost their resumes and applications for college and graduate school.
Fraternities and sororities are required to affiliate themselves with a charity as part of their charter, but new pledges are always looking for loopholes.
“As a gift for our incoming president, BU asked its students, alumni, faculty, and staff to volunteer for a few hours last spring and post those hours on a (specific) website. I used my time spent coaching the softball team as my volunteer hours,” said University of Maryland graduate student Aliza Krichevsky.
Studies say that children whose parents volunteer are twice as likely to commit themselves to charitable work as their peers whose parents do not volunteer.
This article appeared in the December 7, 2006 issue of the Hatchet.