National Student Volunteer Day is celebrated on February 20 every year to encourage student volunteering and community service and promote volunteering innovation and discussion. Did you know the first organized volunteer organization in the U.S. was a firehouse founded by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia? Volunteering is an act of giving your time and resources to make a positive impact in a community without expecting any financial reward. Volunteering can take place in a variety of venues, including schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations, corporate firms, athletic events, disasters, and online. Volunteers are rarely compensated for their efforts. Some organizations, such as the United Nations, do, however, give their volunteers allowances to cover their living and operating expenses.
History of National Student Volunteer Day
Since antiquity, people have been volunteering their resources in one way or another for the good of their community and, most recently, their country and the world. The word ‘volunteer’ was used for the first time in the military. It originally referred to ‘one who offers himself for military duty in the 1600s. Actual non-military volunteering originated in 12th century Britain when it was closely tied with religion. Over 500 hospitals were run primarily by volunteers in Britain throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. Volunteerism did not take off in the United States until the 19th century, during the Great Awakening. Before that, most people volunteered for military endeavors, such as the Revolutionary War. An exception was the Philadelphia voluntary firehouse founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1736.
In 1851, the Young Men’s Christian Association opened its doors for the first time in the United States. During the American Civil War, many people — primarily women — volunteered their time to support soldiers on the frontline. One of the prominent volunteers of the Civil War was Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross in 1881. The 20th century saw a rapid growth in volunteering and volunteer organizations, many of which still exist today. Two of the popular ones include Rotary Club and Lions International.
After World War II, American volunteering efforts shifted from local and national to international. That led to the creation of organizations such as the Peace Corps in 1961, Samaritan’s Purse in 1970, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Today, volunteerism in the United States continues to wax stronger, made possible by the internet’s explosion and the ease of accessing volunteer opportunities through mobile devices.
National Student Volunteer Day timeline
Benjamin Franklin establishes the Philadelphia volunteer firehouse.
The Great Awakening inspires people to take action to support the disadvantaged.
Organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs in America are established.
People start focusing on volunteering for causes outside America.
National Student Volunteer Day FAQs
Why is volunteering important for students?
Volunteering provides students with an opportunity to gain life skills, develop soft and hard skills, and build personal and professional connections. It also gives them a platform to gain relevant work experience and improve their employability.
How can you show volunteerism as a student?
You can show volunteerism as a student by participating in volunteering activities on your campus that align with a cause you’re passionate about. That can include climate activism, animal rights, gender equality, reduced inequalities, and student welfare.
How can I become a good volunteer?
To be a good volunteer, you need to be passionate about the cause you’re volunteering for, proactive, willing to commit time and resources, and open to building relationships with fellow student volunteers.
How to Observe National Student Volunteer Day
Volunteer at an animal shelter
Animal shelters are places where stray or unwanted animals are housed until they find new owners. Most shelters are usually understaffed, which means some animals may not get the attention they require. You can use this National Student Volunteer Day to volunteer at one of these shelters to provide companionship to these lonely animals and potentially improve their chances of being adopted. To volunteer, check with your local animal shelter or look up online for shelters searching for volunteers. Remember to volunteer with a group of friends to have the best fun experience!
Sign up to be a volunteer tutor
Do you love kids? Or do you love sharing your knowledge with people? Volunteering as a tutor can allow you to share your knowledge with kids or underserved people. You can sign up as a volunteer tutor at your local community center or one of the many online tutoring websites.
Participate in women’s empowerment projects
If you are passionate about gender equality, you can participate in women empowerment projects happening on your campus or even organize one. Empowerment projects could be anything from skills development, educating young women on health, hygiene, and reproductive health, personality development activities, or a women-only general fun activity. If none are taking place at school, you can take the initiative and start one. That could be with a group of friends or in partnership with your school or relevant organizations.
5 Interesting Facts About Volunteering
They constitute about 14% of the world’s population
According to statistics, one billion people out of the world’s population of about seven billion are volunteers.
Most volunteer work is informal
About 70% of volunteer work is done informally by people within their respective communities.
Women are the leading volunteers
Up to 57% of volunteer work globally is carried out by women.
Older adults are more likely to volunteer
People between the age of 35 years and 44 years are more likely to volunteer than young people aged 20 to 24.
Americans love volunteering
Americans contributed an average of $193 billion of their time volunteering in communities in 2016.
Why National Student Volunteer Day is Important
Volunteering improves your career prospects
As a student, you can gain valuable work experience and develop soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and project management. Volunteering allows you to learn about your passion, and preferred career path, and helps you determine your working habits before fully launching into the professional world.
Volunteering promotes good health
Volunteering offers several physical and mental health benefits. By engaging in volunteer activities that require you to move around and lift objects, you can build your strength, reduce the risk of blood pressure, and increase your lifespan. Volunteering gets you to engage with other people, helping to counteract feelings of loneliness, depression, and stress.
Volunteering helps build social skills
Volunteering allows people to work with a team, group, or in a community, which helps them come out of their shells and develop their interpersonal skills. Volunteering also allows you to build ties with the people you work with and connect with influential people in other organizations.
National Student Volunteer Day dates