International Volunteer Day
International Volunteer Day (IVD) is observed on 5th December every year. It offers an annual opportunity to highlight the contributions volunteers make globally.
The day is an opportunity to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts, and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, at local, national, and international levels.
The 2020 International Volunteer Day theme was “Together We Can Through Volunteering” and sheds light on the difficulties and needs of volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic but also highlights volunteers’ impact in their communities.
“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer”
History of International Volunteer Day
In 1985 the General Assembly of the United Nations designated December 5th for an annual celebration by communities, peoples, and governments of all that is achieved by voluntary effort – by volunteers – around the world. The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/40/212 on 17 December 1985. International Day is already marked in more than half the countries of the globe. It mobilizes thousands of volunteers every year.
The act of volunteering is found in all cultures, languages, and religions. Each year, hundreds of millions of people volunteer their time and skills to help make the world a better place. When they volunteer, they help to improve the lives of others. And when they volunteer, they also gain a greater sense of belonging to their communities.
Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion. Volunteering also can help in recognition of the inherent respect for all people; regardless of gender, age, ethnic background, disability, or sexuality. Through voluntary actions, people on the margins can become more included in societies.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi
“Volunteerism is a powerful mechanism to engage people, especially those left farthest behind, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. When people volunteer, they connect with others and foster a sense of purpose,” the Secretary-General of the United Nations said.
COVID-19 has impacted non-profit organizations as much as other businesses, if not more. Volunteering, donations, and resources have all taken a hit. But finding ways to help has proven difficult in most areas around the world, with lockdowns and social distancing rules forming barriers to most popular volunteering activities.
Globally, many volunteers have been at the forefront of medical responses in relation to the virus, be it through working on the front line, their research, or by advising the sector.
“Once you’ve helped one person, they can help another person. It’s not always about the masses”. – Rose
Celebration of International Volunteer Day
International Volunteer Day celebration includes a wide variety of events, activities, and awareness-raising campaigns. Various parades, rallies are organized with an aim to increase awareness among people.
Rewards and awards are organized for winner volunteers for recognizing their significant involvement and contribution to their communities. Competitions and events are held for volunteers and campaigns like pledge taking for voluntary services to the precise projects are held.
However, most of us in the service community would agree that we still have a long way to go to gain widespread recognition for volunteering and volunteers.
“Volunteers are not paid — not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”.
Today and every day, we celebrate courageous and compassionate volunteers. We thank them for their service.
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