Volunteerism: It’s Not Worth Taking the Easy Way Out

Earlier this week, my good friend Carly shared an interesting story with me. Her boyfriend Jacob is a corporal in the Canadian Forces, with a reserve unit in Ottawa because he is currently a student.  A few days before Remembrance Day he received the following letter:

Hi Jacob,

My name is *** and I am the Philanthropy Chair of my sorority, Xi Delta Theta. This year one of our events was letter writing to Soldiers and Veterans. *** gave me your name so I could send one to you!

Dear Veteran,
My name is *** and I am a proud sister of Xi Delta Theta Sorority. I am in fifth year at the University Of Ottawa. I am in Linguistics with a minor in Psychology.  If you did not sacrifice all that you did for our country I would not be able to do all that I do. I would not be able to attend post secondary; I would not be able to have a voice or work and so much more! I want you to know how truly appreciative I am for all that you have done and given to us. On an even larger scale, the freedom of this country would not exist without your service to Canada. Through your acts of bravery and courage the freedom of Canada was won. Canada now is it’s own governing nation. We are able to make decisions as a whole because of you. We are able to all vote, because of you, we all have individual rights because of you. You have made the BIGGEST differences for this country; you have made this country what it is today. Thank you… I will remember!

Thank you for all of your sacrifices,

***,  Xi Delta Theta Sorority

* For the sake of keeping the individuals’ identities private, I have chosen to replace all names with ***.

Hearing about this letter writing campaign really disappointed me on multiple levels; most generally because of the poor image it reflects on today’s generation that already receives so much flack for being “lazy” and “indifferent”. Jacob is not a veteran; and although he is proud to represent our country through his participation in the Forces thus far, he doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. The lack of research done by the sorority to find out who the veterans in the Ottawa area really are, is quite sad. But this is not to say that sending the letter to proper recipients would fix the issue, because I’m not really sure what these students were trying to accomplish by sending such impersonal letters in the first place. I know most veterans would gracefully accept any symbol of gratitude, but I think it is downright disturbing that this is what this sorority believes ‘philanthropy’ to be. I can understand that this group wanted to do something to show their appreciation, as Remembrance Day was on everyone’s mind, but there are so many more proactive ways they could have done so. What about volunteering at a Seniors home and hanging out with some veterans there? Or attending a Remembrance Day ceremony and thanking the veterans in person? The amount of time these girls spent coming up with the idea and writing the letters could have been better used in so many ways… but these girls took the easiest way out.

I think it is really disappointing that this is what volunteerism has come to, and I do not believe that the participants in this campaign should receive any praise; in fact, they should probably be a little embarrassed. I myself am guilty of not dedicating a huge amount of time to volunteer projects in the past few years however, this is something I have been working to change recently (updates on that coming soon!). I truly believe that volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about is a way to enrich your life in so many ways. And not only can it be inspiring, but so many employers look for a rich background in volunteerism to set candidates apart from others.

You’re not doing yourself, or anyone else, any favours by taking the easy way out of volunteering. There’s only so many hours in a day, so why not dedicate your time to a project that could literally change your life in so many ways?

Special thanks to Carly & Jacob for inspiring me to write this post – you guys are wonderful xo. 

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