A Gift of Service: Just 4 hours

Christmas Cards. Most of us this time of year are either sending or receiving them or both.  They come and go in different forms, from the traditional card to more modern mediums like email.  But not all emails are equal as many are a conduit to an online Christmas message with animation and sound – I have already received some of these.

I have been active in the Christmas Card, or rather the Christmas Message, space for a few years.  Since 2005 I have been encouraging my colleauges to be creative with our seasons greeting.  Some examples have resulted in videos such as these: 20052006 and 2009.  Other years we have created eCards.

This year I want to do something different, I want to do more than just send a seasons greeting or a merry Christmas.  I want to encourage people, you, to do something, to act.

One morning after talking with my walking partner, Alastair, about the idea of encouraging people to act and then again that same morning over breakfast with my wife, Caryn, the beginnings of “A Gift of Service” started to take shape.

The idea is simple: Give the gift of service this Christmas.  Specifically, undertake 4 hours of volunteer work before 25 December 2011.

I took the “a gift of service”, or AGOS, idea to a colleague, Janet, and we developed a simple action plan:

  1. Contact NGOs and ask them what jobs, activities or tasks they need done as we approach Christmas and the New Year.
  2. Share these jobs, activities or tasks with our colleagues in our Department and with others, depending on the response from NGOs.

The thought is that by identifying actual jobs, activities or tasks that need doing we can make it easy for people to find something they feel comfortable volunteering to do. And so we did it.  We contacted NGOs and shared the jobs, activities and tasks they sent in.  We have only just started AGOS, but we already have the first reported AGOS assisted activity: helping to wrap presents for the Salvation Army’s Flying Padre & Outback Services (Gifts for remote communities & Stations).

Volunteer Gift Wrappers

For people that like numbers. The table below shows that 4 hours of volunteer work by 100 people is equivalent to one person working for 50 days.  It only takes 730 people doing 4 hours of volunteer work to be equivalent to one person working for an entire year.

People 100 730
Volunteer hours 4 4
Total Hours 400 2920
Total Days (8 hour day) 50 365


So, as we approach Christmas and the new year, I challenge you to undertake 4 hours of volunteering in your community.  If you want to know where help is needed or you are part of an NGO that needs help, then email me.  Please feel free to email or post a comment and share what you did for your 4 hours.

Note: For NGOs wishing to share what jobs, activities or taks they need doing, please provide the following details:

  • A description of the job, activity or task;
  • Whether there are any special skills required;
  • The estimated time for the job, activity or task;
  • Whether the job, activity or task requires an individual or group or both;
  • Any specific dates or times for the job, activity or task;
  • The location for the activity; and
  • A contact person (name, contact number and email).

One comment

  1. Amanda Gunn says:

    I participated in ‘A Gift of Service’ this year by participating in two separate events. The first was assisting to organise the gifts donated to the Kmart Christmas Tree and the other was to wrap presents for the Homeless Christmas Lunch.

    While I was very happy to donate my time, it was amazing to see the generosity of people at this time of year. It really showed me the hard work and caring of those people who not only work within these organisations but also the level of compassion within the community.

    To me, volunteering is a commitment and once committed you must be reliable. While I volunteer on a regular basis throughout the year for two organisatios ‘A Gift of Service’ allowed me to share my time in a one-off capacity at a special time of year.

    ‘A Gift of Service’ is a fantastic initiative and one I hope to support throughout the year. If you have ever considered volunteering, or are considering it now for the first time, I strongly encourage you to give it a go. Be careful – you might just get hooked!!

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