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Credit: ajdecandis

While physical labour is a popular type of volunteer work, there are plenty of ways you can help

Many Canadians are already volunteering, but do they need to do more?

It started as a school assignment: my daughter Maia was asked to choose a Canadian hero. The task was more difficult than my 10-year-old (or I) expected. Not because it’s hard to find a hero, although I think there is some truth to Canadian writer George Woodcock’s quote: “Canadians do not like heroes, and so they do not have them.” 

What stumped us was that tricky detail of a definition: just what is a hero anyway?

When I asked Maia to define the word hero, she suggested that a hero is someone who “changed their community and got lots of awards.” So while my daughter searched for her award-draped Canadian Hero in the history books, I began to wonder about all the volunteers who shape our communities, but never get more recognition than the occasional ‘thanks’ at an annual volunteer banquet.

How Many Canadians are Volunteering?

There’s a statistic that caught my eye as I read about these everyday heroes: although almost half of Canadians volunteer, the top 25% of volunteers account for 78% of total volunteer hours. While a whole bunch of us do a little bit to help, there are a few super volunteers who do the bulk of the work. The good news is that Vancouverites just might be more generous with their time than most.

According to a recent article in the CBC, “Vancouverites seem to place more importance on volunteering as a part of being a good citizen than other Canadians, a recent Environics Institute survey suggests.” The study, the article explains, says that 40% of Vancouverites feel like volunteering makes them better citizens. And while being a better citizen might not make you a hero, it certainly makes our city and province a better place to live.

Here's a list of local volunteer opportunities, or check out GoVolunteer.ca.