Madison Hutchins, senior natural gas specialist and 12 Walton Gas co-workers built 96 boxes for homebound seniors and sorted 3,400 pounds of food donations during a recent day of volunteering at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

April is National Volunteer Month, an annual celebration that highlights the essential role volunteers play in shaping a brighter future for all.

As a subsidiary of electric co-op Walton EMC, Walton Gas honors the cooperative principle of concern for community. Walton employees volunteer their time, talents and resources to benefit a variety of charities and community organizations.

Walton Gas employees benefit the people and communities we serve through activities such as hosting the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta Care-a-Thon where we raised more than $58,000 in a single hour in 2023. We also roll up our sleeves for hands-on volunteering at places like Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Annandale Village in Suwanee and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

Surprising benefits

While volunteerism is part of the Walton Gas corporate DNA, our employees will be the first to tell you we gain personally from the experience of helping people in need, worthwhile causes and the community. There’s plenty of evidence backing the idea that volunteering can make you feel healthier and happier.

Volunteering can make you feel healthier and happier.

Volunteering improves mental and physical health by:

  • Counteracting the effects of stress, anger and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on psychological well-being.
  • Combatting depression. Staying in regular contact with others helps to develop a solid support system, which in turn protects against depression.
  • Causing happiness. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure.
  • Increasing self-confidence. Doing good for others and the community provides a natural sense of accomplishment.
  • Providing a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.

Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy, too. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Your turn

We urge Walton Gas customers to join us in celebrating National Volunteer Month by connecting with a volunteer organization in your community.

Celebrate National Volunteer Month by connecting

with a volunteer organization in your community.

Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be beneficial. In fact, research shows that just two to three hours per week, or about 100 hours a year, can confer the most benefits—to both you and your chosen cause. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you. Volunteering should feel like a fun and rewarding hobby, not another chore on your to-do list.

If you have time constraints or physical limitations, consider virtual volunteering opportunities. In today’s digital age, many organizations need help with writing, graphic design, email, and other web-based tasks.

Prefer to work as a team like Walton Gas employees? Gather your friends and family for a group volunteering adventure.

If you can’t provide hands-on assistance, research and donate to a local nonprofit that aligns with your values. Many organizations rely on the generosity of individuals to continue their essential work. When we all give a little of our time and talents, it can make a positive impact on the lives of others in our communities

At right: Walton Gas employees teamed as volunteer awards presenters at the 2023 AthHalf Half Marathon, which benefits arts education in Athens-Clarke County schools. Pictured from left are Haley Watson, Liz Wright, Bailey Hollingsworth and Kimberly Willoughby.

Where to find volunteer opportunities in Georgia

VolunteerMatch – Find opportunities that match your volunteer interests, from location to type of work. A recent review found volunteer opportunities such as serving coffee to veterans, business mentoring and piano player for church services.

Hands on ATL – Help tackle Atlanta’s most pressing needs by signing up to volunteer with a trusted partner and a meaningful project. Recent projects include setting up community gardens, virtual tutoring for students and park beautification.

Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services – Make Georgia a better place for elders by delivering meals, lending an ear or even changing a light bulb.

American Red Cross – From blood drive support to disaster action teams, help fellow Georgians in their moments of greatest need.

Best Self – Best Self Atlanta magazine maintains a volunteerism database outlining opportunities for interests ranging from animals to women’s rights.

Georgia State Parks – The state offers volunteer opportunities for individuals, couples and groups throughout its system of parks, golf courses and historic sites. The site also lists partner organizations looking for help on stewardship projects, hiking trail maintenance and river cleanups.

AmeriCorps – AmeriCorps volunteers serve at more than 400 locations across Georgia, including schools, food banks, homeless shelters, health clinics, youth centers, veterans facilities and other nonprofit and faith-based organizations. – Type in your address to find local volunteer opportunities. Recent volunteer needs included packing bags for displaced children, caring for horses at an equestrian therapy facility and helping at a domestic violence shelter. – National database that includes Georgia opportunities such as being a campground host at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed locations and visitor assistants/museum docents for Georgia parks operated by the National Park Service.