Giving to others gives you more

By Dr. Amiee Mellon, assistant marketing professor & coordinator of service learning

Guest Column, published Dec. 27, 2017 in the Shelby County Reporter

It’s that time of year – the time when people want to give back to the community through volunteering. What better way to show how thankful you are for what you have than to give to those less fortunate than you? 

Aimee Mellon

But what if I were to tell you that volunteering is so much more than a one-time moment of “paying it forward”?

Numerous studies have shown that making others happy actually increases our own happiness. Think about it: as you volunteer in your community, you meet new people and build new relationships.

Your self-confidence can begin to increase as you accomplish volunteering goals. Further, volunteering sometimes means engaging in good old-fashioned hard work, improving your overall physical health as well!

Madden Saverse, a current MBA student at the University of Montevallo, has been benefitting from these positive side effects first ha volunteering has long been an aspect of his life from an early age. “Working for groups such as The Arc of Shelby County is so rewarding, especially seeing such positive end results…Volunteering and helping in the community has direct impacts on everyone’s life,” he said.

Simply put, the more we give, the happier we feel!

And volunteering is something that can be done with friends or as a family.

  • Birthday parties are perfect for hosting a toy drive for a children’s shelter.
  • Back-to-school time is a great time for stuffing a backpack for someone less fortunate.
  • Anniversaries can be shared volunteering together for a cause you both love.
  • Family Night can double as an opportunity for making care packages for the homeless.
  • Student summer vacations lend time for writing notes to deployed troops.

Interested in specific organizations or causes? Shelby County has you covered. 

  • Passionate about helping those overcome a difficult situation? Shelby Emergency Assistance and Family Connection both have opportunities for you today. 
  • Enjoy working with children? Boys & Girls Club and Links Up Mentoring program both can put you to work.
  • Run a business or organization and interested in employing individuals with developmental disabilities? Contact Arc of Shelby County for some amazing candidates. 
  • Want to volunteer, but are unavailable during normal working hours? Owens House has activities that can be done from the comfort of your home.

This is only a small sampling of the nonprofits here in Shelby County. To view more, visit To view more agencies throughout central Alabama, visit

Your community needs help beyond the holiday season. National disasters and crisis situations do not limit themselves to one month or season—why should our volunteer efforts be this limited?

And as you can see, the rewards of volunteering far surpass the costs – volunteering is a gift to both the recipient and the donor. Take it from Saverse: “Volunteering is a lifelong process, not a one-time deal.”

Don’t limit yourself to one season for these benefits. Volunteer today and continue volunteering for a happier tomorrow.