The Unexpected Gifts of Volunteer Service

"We all have something to give. So, if you know how to read, find someone who can't. If you've got a hammer, find a nail. If you're not hungry, not lonely, not in trouble, seek out someone who is."

During this season of giving, this quote from President George H. W. Bush from December 1990 still resonates -- the greatest gift we can give is of ourselves. Volunteering has the power to ignite passion, inspire change and impact our world by broadening perspectives and transforming communities.

While supporting causes financially will always be a critical component in strengthening our communities, the value and impact of volunteering is equally essential. In 2011, 64.3 million Americans volunteered to help their communities, and 7.9 billion hours of service was produced at an estimated dollar value of $171 billion.

That reflects the staggering impact for good that individuals can have. And with the backing of companies and employers, that impact can be magnified.

But let's start with the individual. The holidays are a joyous time for many, but they can be challenging for people or families in need. Whether you're a fourth grader who wants to help others or a company with thousands of employees around the world -- you have the power to make your mark on the world.

The Points of Light website ( offers a wide range of local volunteer opportunities, as do many companies' community relations office. Volunteer at a youth center. Read to children. Mentor a struggling student. Help an organization with a marketing plan.

There are no age restrictions when it comes to making your mark on the world through service. Encourage your children to get engaged in volunteering through one of generationOn's many programs, including this year's holiday Be a Joy Maker Campaign. For each action submitted to generationOn, the youth initiative of Points of Light, Hasbro will donate a toy or game to Toys 4 Tots, up to a total value of $1 million. Go to to learn more.

Hasbro embraces the "Power of Service" as an important part of its corporate culture and was one of the first companies to take the Billion + Change pledge, a national campaign for companies committing to pro bono service. Hasbro employees receive four hours of paid time off monthly to volunteer with organizations that benefit children. This month, its global workforce of 5,000 spent December 6 volunteering as part of its first annual Global Day of Joy.

Leveraging a deep knowledge of the power of play, Hasbro teams fanned out across the globe to feed the hungry, help create play spaces, design murals and deliver thousands of toys and games to organizations that are doing incredible work for children in need worldwide. In fact, the passion and commitment of one talented young man in Hasbro's Colombia office inspired the creation of a vibrant new "Toy Library" for orphaned children at the local SOS Children's Village in Bogota.

While volunteerism brings significant benefits to the community, it's also a gift to the employee volunteer. According to the Points of Light Corporate Service Council, a global platform for advancing corporate volunteerism, more than 85 percent report that employee volunteer programs positively impact employee morale. Volunteerism is good for businesses, too. Returns from skills-based volunteerism include stronger relationships with community stakeholders, team and skill development, brand value and employee engagement.

On Dec. 7, Carter Jenkins, a high school senior in San Juan Capistrano, California, hosted "Operation Help a Hero," a holiday party at Camp Pendleton where volunteers distributed Hasbro games and toys and conducted craft projects with some 300 military families. This young volunteer had already been recognized as a 2013 generationOn Hasbro Community Action Hero for creating Students for Safe Water, a non-profit that has raised $54,000 to install 22 latrines and other equipment in a Nicaraguan village of 400. But during this holiday season, he was inspired to do more. And he inspires us all to do more.

Join us this holiday season and give the gift of volunteerism with your family or organization. Empower yourself and others to make a difference together and bring joy, hope and service to those in need. If we all extend our hands to help together, we can build a better and brighter world.