9 Virtues Blog

Charity at the Holidays: Make a Firm Appointment to Volunteer After the Season

by Michael Silveus, D.D.S., M.S.


We are busy people. Between the demands of work, family, neighborhood, school, and keeping a house, there never seems to be time for hobbies and exercise, let alone volunteer work or spiritual activities.

Charity, or caritas—love of neighbor—moves us to act, and for busy people, giving financially is an expedient way of helping others. However, as Dr. Karl Haden and Prof. Rob Jenkins write in their book The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders, “perhaps the highest manifestation of love for others is serving them” (Deeds, 2015, p. 187).

Finding the inner motivation to serve is the easy part, especially during this holiday season; more hearts open at this time of year. Finding logistical opportunities to serve is more difficult. Charitable organizations go through boom and bust cycles. During holidays and school breaks, they can be overwhelmed with volunteers. Most organizations are hit with a post-holiday slump, and during “normal” times, they can be understaffed and underfunded.

I challenge you to seize on this month’s spirit of generosity and caritas, and sign up to volunteer somewhere. But I encourage you to sign up for a time after the holiday rush. Call the organization you are attracted to help and get scheduled for some time in the new year now, as part of your holiday giving. Put the date on each family member’s 2018 calendar and stick to it. You will offer the greatest good, and, by waiting to serve after this season, you will not add more stress to your already-busy lives.

Next time, I will challenge you to reflect on the act of serving.

Michael Silveus, D.D.S., M.S.

Dr. Silveus is a Vice President at AAL and has a broad range of expertise in leadership development, institutional feasibility assessment and founding, accreditation, strategic planning, and faculty mentoring. He has worked in development and campus ministry, and provided care at dental clinics in underserved areas. He was on the original administrative team that founded the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School network. Dr. Silveus serves on many boards, including the Institute of Clinical Bioethics at St. Joseph’s University.