GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Volunteering is alive and well during the holidays, but what about the rest of the year?
According to volunteer Galie Jaddunath, it's seems better than ever. She says she never has a tough time finding people to help volunteer each month for various fundraisers or projects.
"I see a lot of young, particularly young African American men who have stepped up," said Jaddunath.
The South American born Minnesotan is in the middle of one of her biggest efforts to help. She is preparing to serve 300 people a free Thanksgiving dinner Thursday at the Richard Green Central Community Park School. It goes from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
All of the food and other items have been donated, including her time to make it so.
"I was born and raised in a third world country so I know what it's like to struggle," she said.
According to the website, volunteeringinamerica.gov, Minnesota ranks third when it comes to volunteering and Minneapolis ranks first among large cities. The government website reports 1.5 million volunteers in the state have contributed $3.7 billion in services from 2008 to 2010.
Jaddunath believes social media has helped a lot in getting young people to volunteer.
Officials with the Salvation Army Northern Division agree saying the amount of people following the organizations' Facebook page has grown dramatically over the past few months.
"I think we're seeing more of it promoted in schools too," said Salvation Army Commander Jeff Strickler about young people volunteering.
Strickler says often times the Salvation Army is booked a couple months out for volunteer work during the holidays. But they do need more help.
He says they typically get about 15,000 hours of bell ringing during the holidays, but they have a need for more than 100,000 hours. And they also need volunteers to register people who need help buying Christmas gifts for their children.
And then there's the long term need for things like mentoring and tutoring.
"It's the time commitment I think sometimes. People are reluctant to step out and take that longer time commitment," he said.
But what people don't realize is often times the Salvation Army is more flexible than one might think.
"Don't let a few times you might miss change that, we can certainly work with folks," he said.
And take it from Galie that feeling of giving never goes away.
"It's not that hard and it feels so good," she said. "When you start, you're not going to want to stop, because I can't stop."
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