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Volunteer Organizations Direct Area Residents To Opportunities

Volunteer Numbers Up During Holiday Season

bell ringer volunteer
Chitose Suzuki/AP Photo

Over the holidays volunteer organizations like the United Way of Dane County see people stepping up as families or individuals to give back.

Before Thanksgiving, United Way of Dane County puts out a wish list to direct potential volunteers to organizations and let people know what donations are needed.

The wish list is updated online to keep people informed of opportunities.

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Kathy Martinson, senior director of corporate and community engagement for the United Way, said she sees a lot of people looking to volunteer during the holiday season because it’s a time of giving. The need is also specialized over the holidays because organizations do specific programs or regular volunteers leave town. The issue is keeping that volunteer base throughout the year, she said.

“What the real need is in order to make the greatest impact is for people to be interested in volunteering throughout the year,” she said. “So sometimes the holidays are a great way to sort of dip your toe in the water.”

Martinson said volunteering doesn’t have to be a time consuming thing. It can just be an hour or two.

“I really encourage people to think about if they could do something to change something in the community what would it be?” She said. “We care about a lot of things, but we also have some key things that are our passions.”

Some organizations see less positive changes during the holiday season.

Steve Hansen, an American Red Cross Wisconsin Chapter spokesman, said during the holidays their organization sees less blood donations because of people traveling.

The American Red Cross has issued statements reminding people to give blood over the holiday season.

Jacque Sirianni, volunteer connections director for the United Way of Marathon County, said they are seeing a change in the type of volunteers.

“As generations get older and new generations come in and want to start volunteering we’re seeing that kind of shift,” she said.