Last Friday was my first day volunteering at my local Friends of the Library book sale. The manager of the book sale is a lovely woman with experience working in community-based organizations. As a book lover myself, I was familiar with where everything is in the book sale because I’ve shopped there before! In fact, I have hundreds of unread books that I’m currently working through so I can reduce that TBR (To Be Read) pile.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

What did I do while volunteering? Customers would put their books on the table, and I would tally how many of each type/cost they picked out. This makes it faster for the cashier. Many people are repeat customers, so they even put the books in piles for me. They know the drill!

When I worked at a library, I was not able to talk too much about books with patrons due to privacy issues around reading. Yet, nothing was said about the book sale! I was happy to tell customers which books looked cool and which I had read myself. We are community members, not employee/customer.

So, what does volunteering do for you? In almost every case, the people for whom you are volunteering are so ridiculously grateful you are there. Honestly, it’s a good feeling to be wanted and needed, and I believe if you are struggling with challenging emotions around belonging, loneliness, self-confidence, and/or worth, volunteering is a way to remind yourself that you do matter. Of course, there are the more practical benefits, such as making friends, helping your community, and getting to know people who are happy to write you a letter of recommendation.

Here are some types of volunteering I’ve done in the past:

  • Theater usher
  • Filling out award certificates with my calligraphy skills
  • Theater stage manager
  • Helping at the cookie table during a downtown Christmas event
  • Reading to a person with dementia
  • Driving a college men’s soccer team to their tournament

Have you volunteered? What was it like, and how did you feel about it?

Published by Grab the Lapels

I'm a graduate of the MFA fiction writing program at the University of Notre Dame, which inspired me to follow along with trends in teaching, publishing, and reviewing. I also have an MA and BS from Central Michigan University. I used to teach composition, creative writing, and literature in higher education, then did a brief stint at a civic theater, followed by two years at a references desk at a public library. I'm now working toward my ASL Interpreter license.

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