volunteering

The holiday season brings a surge of many of things: shopping, twinkling lights in public places, men in white beards roaming around malls. But the seasonal spirit can spur something else, too — volunteering.

 

While many nonprofits are searching for help, the gift of time can sometimes be a bit overwhelming this time of year.

 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It's the holiday season once again, when many of us look to donate some time to a worthwhile cause. Today, we ask representatives of local non-profits what makes a great seasonal or year-round volunteer, and how you can have the most impact when you give back to the community. Then, learn about a debate that has been raging since the 1940s — what is the better winter holiday snack; the latke or the hamantash? It may sound like apples and oranges, but the Hanukkah potato pancake and the Purim stuffed cookie square off year after year to help debaters hone their craft.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

If you pull a fire alarm in any large U.S. city, it's likely that paid firefighters waiting at a nearby station will quickly respond.

But seven out of 10 American firefighters are actually volunteers. They cover vast sections of the country, making up an aging network that is increasingly understaffed and overworked.

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

Last fall, after he was laid off from The Kansas City Star, Yael Abouhalkah did what many journalists do: he started a blog and continued to cover local and national politics.

That is, until couple of weeks ago, when he announced that he and his wife are heading to Namibia to be Peace Corps volunteers.

They’re leaving mid-August for a 27-month stint in southwest Africa.

The U.S. National Archives

When President Harry Truman moved into the White House, he thought the creaks and groans meant it was haunted. It turns out it was just in imminent danger of collapse. Today, hear the story of how the executive mansion was completely gutted and restored. Then, what takes more than seven years and 900 international volunteers to complete?

Canadian Blood Services / Flickr--CC

There didn’t end up being much ice this weekend, but Winter Storm Jupiter still had a big impact on one Kansas City-area nonprofit.

“It wasn’t as bad as anyone thought it was going to be, but the preparations were there,” Community Blood Center Executive Director David Graham says. “We had blood drives canceled in anticipation of travel being impacted.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas Citians gave more than 68 million service hours back to their community in 2014, putting them near the top of a list of volunteering cities.

The Corporation for National and Community Service ranked Kansas City the eighth most giving on a list of 51 major metropolitan areas. Nearly a third of Kansas Citians volunteer. 

CEO Wendy Spencer says a number of factors increase the number of hours people give. Areas with a high homeownership rates often have correspondingly high rates of volunteerism, she says.

But there are some surprises in the data, too.

What does civic engagement mean to millennials in Kansas City? Two local college students, along with the director of a national organization on civic learning and engagement, share their perspectives. We also report on a group that's working on uncovering the grand staircase at Quality Hill's West Terrace Park.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Dozens of volunteers from across the Kansas City metro gathered at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., Saturday as part of a disaster simulation.

Kansas is ranked in the top ten most charitable states in the country, according to a study released by the personal finance website WalletHub.

Kansas tied narrowly with Idaho to rank third in the nation. Utah came in first place and South Dakota came in second.

According to the publishers, the purpose of the study was to foster holiday competition between the states to increase their charitable activities.

WalletHub ranked the states using eight criteria:

Kansas Citians Take Volunteering To The Extreme

Sep 19, 2014
Courtesy of Kirsty Morgan

Most people have spent time at a local soup kitchen or sorted cans for food banks, but others take an entirely different approach to donating their time. 

But an extreme volunteer commitment can mean you’re giving weeks, or even years, of your life to help others. And sometimes you'll get into some pretty hairy situations as a result.

In The Shoes Of Red Cross Volunteers

Jul 22, 2013
Steve Rhodes/Flickr-CC

We’ve all seen it on TV— a hurricane strikes, leaving thousands without power, food, or clean water for days or even weeks. When disasters happen, the Red Cross is the organization that always seems to be there.