By MATT GANNON

Habitat for Humanity volunteers help to build and paint a house for a family without a home. PHOTO: by Natalie Maynor from flickr
Habitat for Humanity volunteers help to build and paint a house for a family without a home. PHOTO: Natalie Maynor/Flickr

There are many people who believe that to be happy is to have money. However, there are also many who think that this isn’t true. These people may value family and friends over wealth, or believe that the satisfaction of helping others is of a greater value than money. Those who believe this would find their place in volunteering. There is a lot of greed and selfishness in this world, but the generosity and compassion of volunteers shines through the darkness it creates.

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in different areas of work so that you have that knowledge to apply to the future. A good example is learning how to deal with customers or getting used to the pressures of working for someone you may not know.

Volunteering may not get a person any money, but it pays off in other ways, and not just for the volunteer. The people who receive the help are able to get more done. What they wanted to accomplish may not have been able to happen if it wasn’t for the extra pair of hands.

Not only does volunteering make other people feel good, it makes you feel good, too. There is great satisfaction in helping others without pay. It builds character and values, and it gives you a good reputation. Volunteering also helps you to develop skills you will need in the near future, like responsibility and time management.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63.4 million people, or 26.8 percent of the population, volunteered at least once in the United States between September 2008 and September 2009. During a year of great economic trouble in the country, many people were reminded of the importance of volunteering.

What kind of volunteer work can young people do? Some examples include helping elderly people with yard work or volunteering to help collect donations for a charity organization like the March of Dimes. Just ask around, and you will be surprised at the opportunities you can find.

Matt Gannon, 17, lives in Cobden, Ontario, Canada.