Should good deeds, donating or volunteering be rewarded? This is a conversation I had recently with a fellow parent. She believes that when we are collecting used books, box tops or having our kids volunteer their time that they should do so out of the goodness of their heart and not because any reward is attached.
To increase participation, our school has held class competitions with the winning class getting some time of reward. Sometimes the competition is for individual students. And our fifth graders have the option to record their volunteer hours and receive a recognition award at the end of the school year.
My friend feels these are all unnecessary as we live in a giving community. She says she can see implementing these in a less well-to-do area where the students or parents might need encouragement to participate. And while I agree with her that we should do things just for the inner joy of doing something you know is right or helpful, rewards are not a bad thing.
Rewarding good deeds can reinforce the good feelings. And there is nothing wrong with volunteers feeling appreciated for their hard work. All these good feelings can encourage people to continue their generosity.
Of course, there are some people who go out of their way to do good deeds just for the attention or the reward. And I can’t say that this is a bad thing but really you shouldn’t expect a reward or recognition for helping others.
I know I certainly don’t. I would keep donating and volunteering whether there is recognition at a volunteer’s breakfast or an award like the presidential volunteer service award, school district’s top volunteer or a Life Member award. And in the past three months I have received all these awards and know the school will be hosting a breakfast for the volunteers at the end of the school year.
No, I don’t do any of this for the awards, but it sure does feel nice to know others see all my hard work and appreciate it. I love when teachers, staff or even other parents tell me they appreciate everything I do for the students and school. It makes putting up with the rough parts bearable. Actually, just knowing that the kids enjoy the efforts of the hard work is enough, but who doesn’t like being appreciated for all they do?
I say, keep the rewards. We need to appreciate everyone’s good deeds and volunteering. There is nothing wrong with making people feel good, worthwhile and appreciated. Especially in this world where stories of animosity and hatefulness seem to dominate we can use some good feelings and to celebrate the good that others do.