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Volunteer and help local schools fight poverty

Volunteer and help local schools fight poverty

International Volunteer Day is coming up on Wednesday, December 5, and with more than 840 volunteers around New Zealand, World Vision knows the value of these dedicated workers. The humanitarian organisation relies on the generosity of those Kiwis who give their time and energy to assist in its work helping families and children around the world.

World Vision's national volunteers co-ordinator, Alison Ross, says her team put their skills to good use in many different ways.

"Our volunteers do anything from looking after our donation boxes in shops to helping out at special events. Without them World Vision wouldn't be nearly as effective. Often it is our volunteers who represent us in the far corners of New Zealand, where we don't have full-time staff," she says.

Many World Vision volunteers help with the organisation of the 40 Hour Famine, which is a simple and effective way for young New Zealanders to learn about issues beyond their immediate environment, such as poverty in developing countries. For the 2008 40 Hour Famine (May 23-25), World Vision's 'adopt a school' initiative means volunteers can now focus their energy on helping the children in just one local school.

"A teacher will usually take responsibility for organising the Famine within a school, but he or she can't do it on their own," says Alison. "The volunteer who adopts that school will be asked to support the Famine organiser with administration, banking deadlines or motivating students through presentations at assembly. Ultimately the tasks you are asked to do will depend on your interests and skills."

A common misconception, Alison says, is that you need to have a lot of free time to be a volunteer.

"One of our volunteers is a mother of eight children, whom she home-schools. She loves visiting schools in her area and helping the students and teachers with the Famine," Alison says. "She is so valuable to us."

Volunteering New Zealand estimates the value of unpaid work in New Zealand at around $3 billion annually. About 30 per cent of New Zealanders volunteer for one or more non-profit institutions each year.

"It is the support of people like these that allows World Vision to continue to send at least 75 per cent of the money it receives directly overseas," says Alison.

ENDS

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