I Plead Not Guilty

January 3rd, 2011 by

Thank you Volunteers cake by San Jose Library @ Flickr

After a holiday season rich in the joys of eating, drinking and general overindulgence, I sometimes feel a tad glum. The obvious cause is my body telling me to ease up on the rich food (I’m convinced the alcohol has nothing to do with it), but for a while now I have suspected another cause.

Rather than food or alcohol, I blame people. Not just any people, I’m talking about those who instead of celebrating this season of frenzied consumption and family time, dread it. Whether it’s due to an amplified feeling of loneliness or increased financial hardship, Christmas is a rough time for many people. Granted it’s not my fault that people are poor and lonely. But it still makes me feel a little uncomfortable (poor me, I hear you say).

This year, instead of wallowing in my bloated guilt, I decided to try to alleviate it with volunteer work. This very thought made me feel much better, until I looked out the window. And it was cold outside. So, so cold…

Fortunately for me, one no longer needs to leave the house to get a do-gooder fix. Instead of braving the cold, I took my volunteering skills into cyberspace, where I discovered myriad ways to help out my fellow man, NGO or not-for-profit. The tasks are varied, and the amount of help you provide can vary from a few minutes’ microwork, to upwards of several days of sweet, sweet guilt relief.

For those interested, a good place to start looking is the website The Extraordinaries. There, amongst numerous opportunities to tag photos for museums and galleries, I found a call to write messages of encouragement to children in extreme poverty. Although unsure if such a gesture really makes anyone feel better but me, I wrote a message before continuing my search.

Other sites such as the UN’s online volunteering site gave me the chance to create educational materials for children. Noting this for later, I then stumbled across a site that, amongst other offerings, requested a week’s help advising on the rearing of pigs. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling that guilty.

Then, just as food and alcohol induced drowsiness threatened to derail my whole project, it hit me. A blog! A blog to tell other people how they can volunteer their services online. A blog whose repercussions would more than cure my malaise.

So, blog completed, I sit here with the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. I have to say this volunteering really works wonders. You should try it some time. As for myself, I’m heading back to the kitchen for some more dessert.