Today, December 2nd is  #GivingTuesday. To put it simply it is a day that is all about giving back.

Today people from all over will be coming together to do what they can to give  what they can. Although I feel people should give back on a regular basis having this day warms my heart. I have been a volunteer since I was a teen. In high school I did a variety of things but one thing that sticks out was volunteering struggling Math students across the street at the middle school. Yeah, I tutored math. As an adult I have volunteered for a large variety of organizations and I continue to do so. My newest volunteer job is the Co- Community Outreach Director for Team RWB at Fort Bragg. I can’t wait to really get going with that! A positive to all my volunteer work is that my kids love to give back too! My oldest has started his adventures in volunteer work and my other kid’s love doing what they can. From collecting canned goods and old coats to just helping me with what I am doing. It is important for our children to see us giving back because they learn from us. When they learn from us they can see the positive that giving back does. They will learn why it is so important for them to give back also.

On this #GivingTuesday  I want to share with you some great places to volunteer and give back  as well as some great ideas to give back in your own community!

#givingtuesday | Country Girl Gourmet


There are ton’s of great organizations out there that would love your help. Here are a few of my favorites!

  1. Team RWB
  2. Blue Star Families
  3. USO
  4. Operation Homefront
  5. Fisher House
  6. Armed Services YMCA
  7. The Red Cross
  8. Special Olympics
  9. United Way
  10. Habitat for Humanity
  11. Homes for our Troops
  12. Toys for Tots

Looking for some other ways to give back? Check out these ideas!

  1. Do something (you are good at) for someone that is in need (car repair, painting, yard work,etc.)
  2. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter.
  3. Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
  4. Deliver meals (Meals for Wheels)
  5. Volunteer at your local Food Bank (sorting food, etc.)
  6. Volunteer at local Running Races (they almost always need course support and many support great causes)
  7. Coach Youth Sports
  8. Donate Food to your local Food Bank (Think outside the canned veggies and creamed soups)
  9. Donate old clothes, coats, blankets, toys, books, etc.
  10. Photographers, donate your time and skills for local events (OpLove, Hearts Apart, Gold Hope Project )
  11. Visit local nursing homes and Veterans hospitals
  12. Make care packages for seniors and veterans.
  13. Bake cookies and other baked goods for your community helpers (fire, police, paramedics/EMT’s)
  14. Volunteer your time at a local school. (Schools are always in need of volunteers from Testing Proctors to Tutoring)
  15. Clean up litter in your neighborhood and community.
  16. Become a peer counselor ( Boys and Girls Club of America)
  17. Donate new toys, blankets, knit/crochet hats and snacks to the pediatric ward at your local children’s hospital
  18. Adopt a family for the Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving , etc.)
  19. Donate Blood! While you are at it become an Organ Donor also!
  20. Become a volunteer fire fighter or EMT


I am only just getting started here. You don’t need to be a millionaire and spend money. You just need to be able to spare some of your time. There are so many organizations out there that want your help. To get started you can check out http://www.allforgood.org .  They have a wide variety of volunteer jobs just waiting for you.

So what do you think? How will you be supporting those in your community tomorrow on #GivingTuesday?






5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

Just a year ago my life and what was my normal changed. The Army had decided it was time for our family to move and we had started making our way to our new duty station, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fort Bragg wasn’t a new destination for us. It is where we started our families’ journey in military life. I knew what to expect for the most part. I had bloomed when I was planted at Fort Bragg before and I was sure it would be no problem to do it again. PCSing always brings with it all sorts of unique challenges and new adventures and even though we had spent 7 years at Fort Bragg several years prior I need to start over and bloom where I was being planted once again.

It didn’t take long to unpack and once I had it was back to what I had always done, volunteering. I jumped back in wasting no time at all. I stopped in a Blue Star Families, Books on Bases event  and lent a hand and offered my help for future events. Soon there after I volunteered with the USO at a Jack Daniels Salute to the Troops care package event with country singer and former 82nd Airborne soldier, Craig Morgan and EJ Snyder possibly best known from Naked and Afraid  one person over from me.

Volunteer Burnout (Craig Morgan) | Country Girl GourmetI applied for volunteer jobs online through Army Community Service, became an Operation Homefront volunteer again… well at least according to email correspondence I was one. I also told my children’s teachers if they needed volunteers I was more than happy to lend a hand.  I even became a Family Readiness Group  volunteer once again. Once my kids were back in school I suddenly found myself with “extra” time I once spent working on one of my varied volunteering jobs.

I spent my mornings job hunting and working on my blog and other Allrecipes activities. I started work on a family cookbook. I could go run without a worry. It was during one of my half marathon training runs I came to the realization that not volunteering may be just what I needed. In all honesty sometimes it takes time to realize things and I realized I had fallen victim to one of the things I always tried to fight against. I had Volunteer Burnout.

It is with no real surprise it happened. I have volunteered in some way or form since high school from planting trees in the community to tutoring middle school students. Once I married my husband  and became part of the Army family community I started volunteering with his companies Family Readiness Group(FRG). Well, back then it was called a Family Support Group. It was while my husband was on recruiting duty that my volunteering went to a new level. I was a FRG leader, I was always at my kid’s school helping with something and I had started advocating for military families. I was constantly busy doing something, helping out. I just did and did some more, I felt horrible saying NO.  Volunteering just became what I did and continued to do when we moved to the Fort Bliss area. I was always sure to say thank you to my volunteers and was always concerned that I was asking too much of them but I never did the same for myself.  I was the FRG leader running a 5k and answering my phone to help a fellow spouse. Yes, I did that.  Her questions were not emergencies and were something that could wait 20 minutes until I was done. I did this too many times to count. Blame my type A personality, the wanting of things to be perfect and the people pleaser in myself I put my volunteer responsibilities above my personal needs.

I did this for years, yes years. Becoming yet another victim of volunteer burnout ultimately was no surprise. Don’t get me wrong I loved and still do enjoy volunteering. It is something that I will never completely stop doing. Now I will just do things a little differently. I will put myself first and make sure I have time for myself. Over the last year I have been getting back to what makes myself me and have found myself less stressed out. Others have even noted how I even seem to be happier. A wonderful comment but it has me wondering how I must have appeared before, yikes! While this change was forced upon me it has made me a better person. I still volunteer but I am a much happier volunteer now and keep a few tips in mind.

5 Tips to Avoid Volunteer Burnout | Country Girl Gourmet


5 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

1. Schedule your volunteer time.   When taking on a volunteer job most give you a description of the expected hours per week that are expected. Yes, sometimes you will need to spend more hours than expected while others less. A huge things you can do for yourself is set hours you are “on the clock”. Do you have an email account associated with your volunteer job? Stop checking it all the time! Have set hours that you set aside for responding to emails. As a volunteer you are not expected to work nonstop. That is not good for you. You need your breaks. Remember your time is valuable!

2. Take Care of Yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods instead of junk food. Exercise regularly. Take time for you and your hobbies.  Go on vacation and leave your volunteer work at home. Be sure to make time to relax and unwind. You may think you don’t need a break but take one anyways.

3. Learn how to say NO with grace.  When I was joking that when I moved my email was going to be sexybooty69 to avoid being contacted it should have been a sign that I was on burnout road.  If you are coming up with ideas in your head about how to avoid volunteering instead of just saying NO you may be on the road to burnout. Saying NO isn’t a bad thing, it can be difficult especially when you feel like you are letting someone down. Over committing and spreading yourself too thin can have an adverse effect on your volunteering efforts and you. Volunteering is good but moderation is key. Remember, they don’t give a special award for being a volunteer martyr.

4. Ask for Help. For some asking for help is hard. I have friends that know if i’m asking for help I must need it because i’m one of those that rarely asks for help. I will try to be Superwoman and do it all myself. Being Superwoman can leave you more stressed. You don’t have to do it all yourself though. Delegate, ask for help. Give your volunteers more responsibility. Just remember, if they say no or seem hesitant, don’t push them to do something they don’t want to. Remember they are volunteering like you and like you the best volunteers are typically more prone to burnout.  Good volunteers are hard to find so like it is important to take care of yourself it’s important to make sure they take care of themselves also.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This for the control freaks out there. Stop worrying about things you cannot control. This is a HARD one but mastering this skill will help you. Yes, asking for help can lead to interesting situations sometimes but what will be, will be and it will be ok. If there is one thing I have learned in my years as a military spouse it has been to adapt and overcome. Things may not turn out exactly the way you hoped but in most cases things will be ok and if not it is a valuable learning experience.


These tips aren’t fool proof , just good suggestions from someone who has been to burned out. What do you do to avoid Volunteer Burnout?