Community volunteerism is what makes Northumberland special

It was a small item on the front page of this newspaper Monday: More than 1,100 hampers go out.

It seems through the generosity of organizations like the Northumberland United Way and the Food 4 All Warehouse, a record number of food hampers will be distributed throughout the county this holiday season.

Programs run by a diverse range of organizations from the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Colborne Legion, Community Works, area food banks and church groups will ensure as many people as possible will have a meal to celebrate Christmas.

Then, through a host of other diverse organizations, such as the Giving Tree, local churches and so forth, gifts will find a way into many homes that may not be so lucky.

While it was the United Way and one of its supported agencies, which made the donation to assist the hamper programs, it was through individual donations that this good work could be done.

Whether it is a few loonies for a raffle ticket or regular donations through pay cheque or an envelope in the offering plate at a local church, it is this spirit of generosity that shows our community to be so compassionate.

As Canadians we donate somewhere around $9 billion each year, according to Imagine Canada, an organization that helps non-profits and charities. Along with our fellow citizens, we give more than 2 billion volunteer hours, with teenagers being one of the demographic groups who represent the highest level of involvement as volunteers of any age group.

A vast majority, about 92 per cent, of those who give their time and money do so because they want to make a contribution to the community. Interestingly, the second most common reason for people give for volunteering is to use their skills and experiences to benefit others (76 per cent).  Notably, comparatively few volunteers or donors give in order to fulfill religious beliefs or to improve job opportunities (25 per cent).

Following a year of economic instability, business closures, hundreds of layoffs in the region and a number of strikes, there are plenty of people who are in need.

It is heartening to see in the face of economic hard times, Northumberland County resident are able to reach into their own pockets and find the resources, either monetary or volunteerism, to help each other out. It is important never to lose sight of our humanity and never allow ourselves as a community to turn our backs on a fellow resident.

As family and friends gather around table filled with delicious food and look at the tree bulging with presents under the branches, it is good to know many of us practice the spirit of the season, not just during this time of the year, but for all 365

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