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Tips for new volunteers

Lisa Sellman, author and dog trainer in Minneapolis, doesn't know how to solve all the world's problems, but she does believe they could be somewhat lessened if everyone took the time to volunteer in their communities.

"I think a lot of problems that we have in the world come back to a lack of connectedness -- to our community, our family and even ourselves," Sellman said. "People have blinders on when it comes to their community."

Sellman has been volunteering for many years and wrote a children's book, "The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake," that parents can use to teach their children about the benefits of volunteering. For people who want to begin volunteering, Sellman offers these three tips:

Choose wisely. "Choose what will make you happy," Sellman said. She suggests that parents whose children like to play at the park also pick up trash while they're there. "There are so many things you can do," she said. "You don't have to be part of an organization to volunteer."

Watch your schedule. Time can easily be wasted, Sellman said. Instead, give only when you can. "Even if you only have a half an hour a week to volunteer, that still benefits our community," she said.

Have fun. Volunteering can often be seen as just another commitment to add to the calendar, Sellman said. If you look at volunteering as something enjoyable, however, you'll be more likely to stick with it. "Everybody has unique activities that they find fun," she said. "Use the things you enjoy to be of service. You'll find the feeling you get from volunteering is so rewarding. I get so much back when I volunteer. Life is about finding and creating joy and knowing that you matter, and volunteering is a big part of that."

Ashley White

Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

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