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In the lead-up to International Volunteer Day, these are some inspiring organisations you can volunteer your time to, as a way of giving back to those in need.


South Africa (03 December 2023) – Any day that’s a reminder to do good, like United Nations International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December each year, is a day worth celebrating. International Volunteer Day is an annual international observance first mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer-involving organisations and individual volunteers to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognise volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.

The UN estimates that over 862.4 million people aged 15 and over, volunteer their time every year – 14.3% of the global population. 6.5% of working-age people worldwide engage in formal volunteering via an organisation or association.

Here’s how you can make a difference.

Become a volunteer for every child

UNICEF South Africa’s Volunteer Program is an initiative that deploys the actions, ideas and power of people to improve the lives of children everywhere. They’re working to build a global network of volunteers that play a crucial role in realising UNICEF’s objectives: to give every child a chance.

Local knowledge and networks — merged with the skills, stories and energy of UNICEF volunteers — create a powerful combination for change. The organisation engages young people as volunteers to advise UNICEF South Africa on their priorities, their initiatives, and about the role UNICEF could play in making their aspirations and dreams come true. Joining the program gives young people a chance to get actively involved in setting the agenda for children and young people in South Africa and provides an excellent opportunity to learn about and help implement national programs aimed at children and young people’s development.

Fight Fire

The Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) has been combating dangerous and deadly runaway wildfires since it was formed during the devastating 1999/2000 fires in Cape Town. With over 300 volunteer members at four stations (Newlands, Jonkershoek, South Peninsula and Grabouw), VWS is a highly-organised non-profit organisation, run and managed by a team of volunteers.

VWS has assisted the Table Mountain National Park, CapeNature, Overberg District Municipality and Winelands District Municipality with some of the wildest fires Cape Town and the Western Cape have experienced.

They work closely with other emergency service organisations in wildland fire management and have had 57 callouts and fought 28 fires in 2022/23 alone. To date, VWS has achieved over 56,000 active firefighting hours between its members and stations.

Spread Festive Cheer

The Santa Shoebox Project started in Cape Town in 2006 and collected 180 shoeboxes containing a minimum of eight required items: a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a washcloth, sweets, a toy, school supplies and an outfit of clothing to be distributed to deserving children. Today, it has grown into a national organisation helping share over 1.1 million shoeboxes to over 1,000 recipient facilities each year, through more than 60 satellites around South Africa and Namibia.

The success of the Project can largely be attributed to its personal nature – donors give gifts of essential items and treats to children whose names, ages and genders are known. The project is supported by an extensive network of volunteers across South Africa and Namibia – kind-hearted people who give freely of their time, energy and expertise without remuneration.

“Whether help is financial, in products or in time, every single intervention makes a difference,” says MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet General Manager, Pieter Twine. “We’ve seen it every day over the last 26 years – if you can’t swipe your card, share your time and expertise – or just your kindness – with an organisation doing good work and you can have an incredible impact on the lives of many people.”

Sources: Press Release
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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