The Christmas season is a time of giving and thinking of others before yourself. Traditionally the most popular custom during Christmas is exchanging gifts, but for some volunteering to help local causes is the chosen method of giving.
From visiting those who are ill, lending a hand at the local senior center or collecting gifts for the poor, volunteers give of themselves in many ways. The common goal among many of them, however, is to help make Christmas as enjoyable as possible for anyone who needs help.
Cathy Spencer volunteers throughout the year. She said although it makes her feel good, she doesn't do it for recognition. She said she volunteers to help those who are going through a difficult time.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Volunteers take pride in being able to help make people’s Christmas more enjoyable. Cathy Spencer, left, Linda Majeski, Linda Clegg, Cathy Moe and Barb Chrzan all volunteer for the Alpena Christmas Wish List, which help provide families with not only food, but presents for children as well.
"Volunteering is really about our community and the people in Alpena have always come together and give of themselves," Spencer said. "Volunteering and knowing that you are making somebody's Christmas better is so special. It is very rewarding."
Cathy Moe has been volunteering for most of her life in one way or another. She said she does it because it is the right thing to do.
"I have been volunteering for so many years that I have lost count. Volunteering during Christmastime is special to me because I am making a difference in somebody's life," Moe said. "It is not only rewarding for me to help, but to see others in the community coming out to donate and help is just as rewarding."
Barb Chrzan said she began volunteering when she served as a candy striper at the hospital. She said that experience has led to her moving on to supporting other causes. She said she believes everyone should find a way to volunteer and make a difference.
"I volunteer because I love helping people. To me this is what Christmas is about," Chrzan said. "It makes me feel fantastic and it is very rewarding, but that isn't why I do it. It isn't about me. It is about helping others."
Linda Clegg she is often busy, but she makes time to volunteer when she can, especially during the holidays. She said if she were approached by someone interested in being a volunteer she would highly recommend it.
"I guess that my life is good and if I can help someone else then I'm all about it," Clegg said. "I would love to be able to do more, but right now I just can't commit to more. What is more rewarding than knowing your helping somebody?"
Linda Majeski said she has been a volunteer for more than 20 years and it was something instilled in her by her parents. She said she was raised to help people who need help and thinks it is something more people should find the time to volunteer.
"I remember my mother doing things for our neighbors, so maybe I just sort of grew into it," Majeski said. "Volunteering warms the heart and I tell my children that life is about doing for others. It is extremely gratifying and who knows, some day we could find ourselves in the positions some of the people are in during Christmas. I know I would want someone to help."
Clegg, Majeski, Moe, Spencer and Chrzan agree there is a need for more volunteers, as well as younger ones. Moe said it is hard for people who are busy with careers and children to find time to help, but that once life settles down, they should consider it.
"I'm 66 years old and there are times I'm the youngest volunteer, so there is a need for younger volunteers," Moe said. "When you're younger it is hard to make time sometimes. I like to tell people that maybe it isn't the right time in your life to do it now, but your time will come when life calms down a little. Luckily right now us older ones are healthy enough to continue doing it and it is always fun."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com