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Building into the neighborhood, providing a helping hand for those who need it, gaining a sense of purpose and working with a team are all some of the benefits that volunteers find when they get involved with helping in their communities. International Volunteer Day seeks to promote and raise awareness about the vital role that volunteers play in the healthy functioning of society and people groups all around the world. 

History of International Volunteer Day

Referred to in its long form as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, this day first got its start in 1985 when the United Nations General Assembly urged international governments to shine a spotlight on and heighten awareness for the vital contribution that volunteer service makes for communities and nations.

Several years later, 2001 was declared to be the International Year of Volunteers (IYV), which provided further recognition and facilitation for those who were already volunteering while also encouraging new volunteers to become active. During this year, a set of recommendations was also developed to help nations to support volunteer-based systems.

International Volunteer Day has become an important annual event that continues to be celebrated with encouragement toward volunteerism in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whether on an international, national or local level.

How to Celebrate International Volunteer Day

Make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities, locally or abroad, by connecting with some of these ideas for celebrating International Volunteer Day:

Volunteer in the Community

One of the very best ways to observe International Volunteer Day is to plan ahead by researching volunteering opportunities in the local community and sign up for the day. Individuals, schools, youth groups, corporations, universities and so many others are invited to connect with the day by making a difference for a cause that matters. And since volunteers are more likely to last long-term when it’s a project the person is passionate about, each person can be sure to choose something that is near to their hearts!

Host an International Volunteer Day Event

Community organizations, government agencies, schools, non-profit organizations and other groups can make it possible for more people to celebrate the day by organizing and hosting events that people can get involved with.

International Volunteer Day is a great time to get creative with helping others by holding a clothing drive, having a work day, planting a community garden, cleaning up public places like parks and other green spaces, organizing a walk/run race, hosting a silent auction or gathering people around some other common purpose in a volunteer capacity.

Those who are interested in other events that are related to International Volunteer Day might consider participating in Global Volunteer Month, Volunteer Recognition Day or International Microvolunteering Day, all which take place in the month of April.    

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