International Volunteer Day is celebrated every year on December 5. Designated by the United Nations in 1985, it is an important day for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which relies on a network of passionate volunteers to assist in running many of its programs.
“We would like to take the opportunity to express our gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who trust us and help us support people in need around the world,” ADRA Europe leaders emphasized. Just in 2020, ADRA globally supported more than 34,560,000 homes, including more than 19,969,000 beneficiaries who received assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This would not have been possible without the support of our devoted volunteers. Thank you all!”'
The year 2021 was particularly difficult for several European countries. In addition to dealing with the challenges arising from the pandemic, several natural disasters hit the region: wildfires ravaged large areas in Italy, Greece, and Turkey; deadly floods hit Germany and Belgium, and a rare and violent tornado struck several villages in the Czech Republic. In all these cases, an immediate response was coordinated by ADRA Europe, “thanks not only to professionals but also to thousands of compassionate civilians who offered to volunteer both remotely and directly in the affected areas,” ADRA Europe leaders reported.
Despite efforts made to prevent tragedies, some cannot be completely avoided. In such cases, “having a strong network of volunteers ready to take action” is of crucial importance. “We are extremely grateful to the generous people who volunteer with integrity and solidarity. Their help is critical in times of crisis,” ADRA Europe said in a release.
ADRA Europe director João Martins agreed. “In times of crisis, the work of the volunteers is more visible. However, many of these thousands of men and women are making themselves available daily or weekly to share their time and talents with those in need,” he said. “They are showing the love of God in practical ways, ministering with compassion, as Jesus did.”