Take time out in 2014 to help out others

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The start of a new year is generally a time for reflection and resolutions; things we plan to do in the coming months and, more often, things we plan not to do.

Every intention is obviously a personal one and will inevitably be met with varying degrees of success. While stopping smoking, losing weight or getting fit may all be sensible goals, perhaps we should look outside our own lives and take a wider view of things that we can help to change.

For Doncaster’s dedicated band of charity supporters, their aims are usually the same each year; to raise money for innumerable worthwhile causes and ultimately to make a positive difference to the lives of thousands of people.

Take, for example, the outstanding work of Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust, which now has its sights on a new project to fight cancer locally which will be announced later this year. It has also earmarked half a million pounds to convert accommodation at St John’s Hospice into single, en suite rooms.

Anyone who has been affected by cancer, including family and friends, will know just how harrowing the experience can be in all sorts of ways. The idea of easing the strain is a fantastic one and yet just a relatively small number of people will be channelling their efforts into making it happen.

Towards that end, the inspiring Jeanette Fish and a small number of helpers could be found manning the Memory Tree daily in the Frenchgate Centre for most of December. How many of us, with our hectic lives and knee deep in Christmas preparations, would have given up so many hours at this busy time to sit in a crowded shopping centre and wait patiently for donations?

Many more local people make equally worthwhile contributions. Whether they help out at their community library, care for animals, the elderly, the ill or the homeless, they work quietly behind the scenes to help others but are always in need of more support to reach their goals.

While cash remains in short supply for many people, time, for some of us, does not. Anyone with a few hours to spare this year could consider volunteering to help whatever cause they might wish to support. Aside from benefiting the organisation in question, volunteering brings personal rewards by giving us a new interest and opening up social and even work possibilities.

In an age where life is increasingly hectic, it would do us all good to pause for thought and consider the things that really matter. Having the latest must-have gadget, risking debt to provide the `perfect’ Christmas and working all hours while missing out on family life might seem important in the short-term. In the longer term, however, material possessions can be no substitute for the truly important things in life; supporting others and making a lasting contribution that will continue long after our consumer goods have served their temporary purpose.

By Peter Davies

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