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Volunteerism is a powerful force

The city of Nashua website lists 45 agencies throughout the region that provide opportunities for people to volunteer their time.

The list runs the gamut, and we’ve included it below, though we’re under no illusion that they represent the totality of volunteer opportunities to be found in our little corner of the world. But they do provide a hint about the vast range of activities that good-hearted people in our region are engaged in.

Among other things, our local volunteers coach youth sports, deliver meals to seniors and help abuse victims. They work in hospitals, assist veterans, build homes and care for abandoned animals.

There is, it seems, nothing volunteers won’t do, and volunteerism is a powerful economic force in the country, including right here in the Granite State. We rank 23rd in volunteerism nationally, according to the 2015 report of VolunteerNH.

It’s probably something we take for granted, but we shouldn’t.

According to VolunteerNH, more than 306,000 Granite Staters – better than 28 percent of New Hampshire’s population – contributed 39 million hours of service in one form or another in 2015. How much would it cost if we had to pay for that work? Well, the federal government values volunteer work at $23.09 per hour. Add it all up, and New Hampshire’s volunteer army accounts for a total value of $900 million.

You can see the impact locally, too. According to Mike Apfelberg, head of the United Way of Greater Nashua, when the agency holds its annual United Way Day of Caring on Sept. 14, he expects at least 200 people – employees of companies throughout the area – to volunteer at local nonprofit organizations. They’ll paint and clean, read to children, deliver meals to homebound elderly residents and perform a variety of other services. Apfelberg said those $200 people working eight hours translates into a $37,000 return to the community. And that’s just one day.

One of the great things about the world of volunteerism is that people often get more out of it than they put into it. It gives young people an opportunity to develop skills and experience; people with skills and experience feel the reward of having their talents put to good use; and for some, volunteering is an opportunity to keep busy and make new friends.

Here is the list from the city of Nashua’s website of organizations looking for volunteers. Who knows? Maybe one of them is a fit for you.

AARP Tax Aide, Adult Learning Center, American Lung Association, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Bridges-Domestic Violence Support Group, CASA of NH, City of Nashua, Community Emergency Response Team, Daughters of the American Revolution, Friends of the Nashua Public Library, Front Door Agency, Girls Inc., Home Health & Hospice Care, Humane Society of Greater Nashua, Hunt Community, Huntington Community, Lower Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee, Marguerites’ Place, Meals on Wheels/St. Joseph’s Community Services, Nashua Girl Scouts, Nashua Habitat for Humanity, Nashua Historical Society, Nashua PAL, Nashua Parks and Recreation Department, Nashua Public Library, Nashua River Watershed Association, Nashua School District, Nashua Senior Activity Center, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Nashua Special Olympics, Operation Troop Care, Partnerships in Education, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Southern NH HIV/AIDS Task Force, Southern NH Medical Center, Southern NH Rescue Mission, Spartans Drum/Bugle Corps, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Symphony NH, United Way, YMCA of Greater Nashua.