Volunteering should make you feel good. That's a given. But you should also get something practical out of the experience. For Alex Chau, a Gift Wrap volunteer with the Richmond Christmas Fund, that's exactly what happened. Our volunteer writer, Amanda Oye, spoke with Alex about his time as a Gift Wrapper, and how it helped him gain new skills and even land a job.
People find joy during the holiday season in many places – tracking down the perfect gift for a loved one, sipping hot chocolate by a cozy fire, or spending a little extra time with friends and family. For some, like Alex Chau, holiday joy is found in volunteering and knowing that someone else’s Christmas is going to be a little bit merrier.
Alex volunteers as a Gift Wrap Shift Supervisor for the Richmond Christmas Fund. He finds the experience rewarding “because what we do on the job directly impacts the lives of many people, especially during the Christmas season," he explains.
Gift wrapping is one of the ways the Richmond Christmas Fund raises money. Volunteers work a minimum of five shifts from December 1st to December 24th, wrapping gifts for people at Lansdowne Centre in exchange for a donation to the Christmas Fund.
Alex, who is now in university, started helping to wrap gifts when he was in high school. “I think at first it was really exciting to do because I originally did it with my cousin, so it was nice to have an activity for the two of us to participate in together,” Alex says. They both needed volunteer hours for school, so it was the perfect opportunity. What started as a necessary after-school activity quickly became a passion for Alex, and he continued coming back year after year, working his way up to being a Gift Wrap Shift Supervisor.
Doing so has benefited him in more ways than one. Volunteering as a Gift Wrapper “actually teaches you quite a bit of skills,” Alex says. For example, you learn how to work under pressure. “You have so many people coming in and out,” Alex explains.
He directly benefited from this experience when he interviewed for a customer service job and was asked specifically about his ability to work under pressure. “Having been able to recall this experience was really helpful for my successful interview,” he says.
Gift Wrappers also learn a variety of “soft-skills, like being able to talk to customers, being able to explain what an organization does, being able to represent an organization, and I think it's a good thing to have on your resume,” Alex says.
For students, one of the great benefits of the position is that it is an opportunity to learn how to work on a team. There are a lot of times throughout your schooling where you have to work in teams “and I think learning how to communicate with different people from different walks of life is really important,” Alex says.
Alex’s experience with the Christmas Fund, from his first days as a high school student, really goes to show that volunteering is a gift that keeps on giving.
If you are interested in volunteering as a Gift Wrapper, here's everything you need to know.
Photo Caption: Gift Wrap volunteers at Lansdowne Centre. This year, the Christmas Fund's Gift Wrap booth will be open at the mall from December 1 to 24, with all proceeds supporting families in need during the holiday season.