Today, December 5, marks International Volunteer Day, an annual opportunity to highlight the contributions that volunteers across the globe are making each and every day.
 
In communities all over the world, whether it be here in Canada, or internationally, Red Cross volunteers are an integral part of the organization, assisting millions of vulnerable people in need. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, there are over 17 million active Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers worldwide!
 
Often times Red Cross volunteers are placing themselves in extremely complex and challenging situations to provide life-saving support to others. For example, in countries affected by the recent Ebola outbreak, more than 10,000 Red Cross volunteers are saving lives every day, helping to prevent the spread of Ebola by sharing educational materials, providing safe burials, comforting families, and dealing with the effects of the outbreak on the front lines.
 
“The job is risky indeed, many people are not willing to engage, but people are dying and if nobody is managing the dead bodies, the disease is going to spread,” said a volunteer working to fight the outbreak in West Africa.  
 
This type of work leaves many volunteers to say:  If we don’t do it, who will?
 
International Volunteer Day

Canadian physician Shelley Rose Hyppolite shares this powerful message from the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

Without the contributions of volunteers, Red Cross responses worldwide would not be possible. Here in Canada, more than 25,000 Red Cross volunteers share their time and skills to help others every day. Their efforts include providing vital assistance for people's basic needs, including family reunification, emergency lodging, reception and information, emergency food, clothing, and personal services during disasters. 
 
To learn how you can make a difference, visit www.redcross.ca/volunteer