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The new spirit of volunteering

More and more, individuals and organizations around the world are recognizing the value of selfless giving.

From the July 2004 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Call it what you will—helping out, pitching in, community involvement, working for your church, volunteering. There's a quiet revolution going on. A growing awareness in big cities and small towns—across the United States and around the world—of the importance of helping others in ways that don't bring personal advancement or monetary gain.

In spite of recent concerns that television, two-career families, and suburban sprawl have eroded civic engagement, research now suggests that volunteering may be on the rise. Educators, corporations, even busy college students all seem to be realizing that community involvement is invaluable—for the health of their neighborhoods and communities, and for their own personal happiness and well-being.

So why are some people still holding back? Most of those who don't volunteer say they haven't got the time—that expending hours and energy on helping others would detract from other, more essential activities. Yet individuals involved in community service say that's not usually the case—that an investment in self-less giving doesn't affect their other pursuits but, instead, pays rich and rewarding dividends, many of them unexpected.

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