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Your skills and talents needed for volunteer work [Senior Circles]

Thanksgiving is a day to count our blessings and to remember those less fortunate. The holidays are a time to give back to others, and the Share Your Blessings featured in this issue of the Howard County Times provides a roadmap for us to follow during the holidays. The article lists numerous volunteer and/or donor opportunities: nonprofits, which need volunteers, and their clients who need specific items during the holiday season.

It is important though that we don't forget about volunteering during the rest of the year and not just at holiday time. If you are already volunteering, thank you for giving of your time and talents to others. If you aren't currently volunteering, please consider doing so. Seniors have a wealth of skills and knowledge to share in a volunteer capacity.

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In addition to the Holiday Guide to Giving 2014, the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, a program of the Columbia Association, can match you with a nonprofit or agency that can utilize your skills and talents. A good way to begin is to go to volunteerhoward.org and fill in the Basic Search window. Provide a keyword based on your interest. I used the keyword "leader" and found a leadership training opportunity and two volunteer possibilities. I also tried the keyword "writing" and found two volunteer possibilities. Some of the other types of volunteer jobs I saw listed were board of directors/committees, greeter and refreshments volunteer, scheduler, tax counselor, activity assistant and lunchroom assistant.

If you were a manager during your career and would like to use your leadership skills, get involved in planning and leading a volunteer project. There will be a Volunteer Leaders Training as part of MLK Day of Service Across Howard County, Jan. 19, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Columbia Association headquarters, 10221 Wincopin Circle, in Columbia. Registration required. Contact Pam at 410-715-3179.

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If you are an older adult who wants to volunteer but needs transportation, the Volunteer Center has a partnership with Neighbor Ride. Once you have selected your volunteer connection, contact Neighbor Ride to provide transportation to fit your volunteer schedule. Call 410-884-7433 or go to neighborride.org.

Howard County has volunteer openings in Recreation and Parks, the Office on Aging, Howard County Police, Paws 4 Comfort and community-based organizations. Through these opportunities, you can help Howard County citizens as well as county workers. Search for howardcountymd.gov/volunteers to find details.

#GivingTuesday (givingtuesday.org) on Dec. 2 provides us an opportunity to be a volunteer donor. It is a special call to action to create a national day of giving around the annual shopping and spending season. "One day for thanks, two days for deals, and finally a day for giving back!" Help prove that the holidays can be about both giving and giving back. Join in this new tradition of generosity. In 2013, more than 10,000 organizations in 46 countries celebrated #GivingTuesday.

There is an associated campaign, #MarylandGivesMore (marylandgivesmore.com), which has the goal of showing that Maryland is the most generous state in America, by raising $12.2 million on 12/2, #GivingTuesday. To reach this goal, each Marylander would have to give at least $2.

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Don't lose the skills and talents you cultivated during your career, use them. Volunteer and make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

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