Photos of the Bennion Center of the University of Utah on April 10, 2018. Matt Gubler

A wise man once said, “There’s no such thing as a selfless good deed.” That man was Joey Tribbiani, a beloved fictional character from the sitcomFriends.”

Throughout high school, students are encouraged to do as much community service as possible because it looks good on college and scholarship applications. There are even high school clubs, like the National Honor Society, that come up with volunteer work to do together. In college, many groups require their members to volunteer in some sort of campus event or for some sort of charity. For example, sororities have to be active in events for their philanthropies or else they lose their benefits.

These are great ways to keep students involved in the community and to motivate them to do some good for others while still working on their own future, which is the priority.

Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to do charitable work or volunteer work for the sake of getting something out of it. Even when doing little things, like donating change at Panda Express or taking clothes to the DI, people usually only do it because they expect to get a tax break.

When we finish high school and college, many of us will stop volunteering because, let’s face it, life gets busy. This isn’t a bad thing — not having time to volunteer doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s still important we volunteer as much as we can, however the truth is we make time for the things we truly care about and volunteering should be one of those things.

Volunteering brings people in the community together. When you volunteer in your community, you’re connecting yourself to the people around you in a positive and productive way. You’re getting to know people you might not have otherwise known and you’re making them happy.

Volunteering is also a good emotional outlet. You can take your bottled up emotions or energy and use it to make something good. It’s good for your mental health and your emotional health, which is why many counselors and therapists recommend volunteer work.

Joey believes all good deeds are selfish because of the warm, fuzzy feelings you get for doing them, but that’s a good thing. Helping people, animals or the environment should make you feel good. Happiness is really the only thing you should be expecting to get out of volunteering.

There are easy ways you can volunteer, even if your life is busy. If you want to go buy new decorations for any holiday, you can donate your old ones to families who would love some decorations instead of just throwing them away. Most cities have a Christmas tree festival every December for this purpose.

If you’re a parent and you want to do fun things with your kids, most cities will have things like Easter egg hunts or community Halloween parties they need help setting up. While you’re helping coordinate and socializing with other adults, your kids will benefit, too, as they often learn by your example.

If you’re planning on spending the day at a park, you can take a trash bag and fill it up with litter you find as you’re walking around. I’ve started a tradition of making Valentine’s Day cards for the homeless community, which is easy, cheap and spreads love.

You may be out of school and have nothing to gain from being a volunteer, but other people might benefit from your work. You should never go through life only doing the things you have to do. With the world being in its current state of environmental and social chaos, there’s plenty of work to do.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

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