It's not just nice: Here are 11 research-backed reasons to volunteer your time.
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Helpfulness is supposed to be its own reward, which, while admirable, isn’t always a compelling case for incorporating it into your life.

Especially if you're busy balancing work, family, relationships, your own health, and all of the chaos that goes with those things, volunteering can fall into the category of things we should do but rarely find time for. That’s why it can be useful to look deeper into the other benefits of being helpful — because it turns out that doing for others actually does a lot for you, too.

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Helpfulness doesn’t have to be an altruistic act.

It can also be a lifestyle change that affects your health, happiness, and overall quality of life in positive and surprising ways. And the benefits you get from helping out don't make it any less good for the world. Here are 11 surprising things about how helpfulness affects the helper.

1. Volunteering might help you live longer.

A 2013 review included a look at five studies that found that participants who volunteered compared with nonvolunteers were 22% more likely to have a lower risk of mortality.

2. People who give to others tend to be happier people.

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According to "The Paradox of Generosity," Americans who describe themselves as "very happy" volunteer an average of 5.8 hours per month. Those who donate more than 10% of their incomes also exhibited lower depression rates than those who did not.

3. One reason to be helpful? Research shows that it could be in your nature.

Scientists have discovered that the hormones connected to feeling generous vary depending on your DNA.

4. Of course, if you’re born with unhelpful genes, that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with them.

According to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, compassion can actually be taught through meditation and practice. "It's kind of like weight training," researcher Helen Weng told the University of Wisconsin–Madison. "We found that people can actually build up their compassion 'muscle' and respond to others' suffering with care and a desire to help."

5. The happiness we feel after helping is caused by oxytocin released in our bodies.

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That oxytocin triggers the release of another chemical, called nitric oxide, which reduces blood pressure.

6. Helping others could help reduce chronic pain.

Studies have shown that people with chronic pain reported feeling less discomfort after helping others with the same ailment.

7. Oxytocin also reduces levels of free radicals in our bodies, which contribute to aging and sometimes cancer.

So, in a way, helpfulness can actually slow aging!

8. Giving triggers more giving.

The New England Journal of Medicine documented a phenomenon that occurred when an anonymous donor gave a kidney. That single act triggered a chain of 10 kidney donations and transplants across five states from spouses and families of the kidney recipients.

Image via iStock.

9. Helpfulness increases productivity.

Adam Grant has become a leading researcher in organizational psychology based on his projects that show employees are exponentially more productive when they have direct interactions with the people who benefit from their work.

10. In teens and children, helpfulness can help develop more positive attitudes and behaviors.

Adolescents who volunteer tend to have improved grades and better self-image. So all of those school-mandated volunteer hours are definitely a good thing!

11. The benefits of helping others grow as you age.

Studies of older adults have found that retirees experience even greater benefits from their own volunteering than people who are employed.

There's no shame in incorporating helping into your life because it's healthy for you.

Volunteering, or simply being mindful about helping wherever you encounter a need, can be an important part of your own self-care routine that doesn't detract from all the good you're doing for the community. When people find ways to be helpers, everyone benefits.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

via idiehlpare / Flickr and ESPN

An innocent tweet by sports reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques erupted into a great discussion where people tried to describe the indescribable. "There's an unnamed media member in here who has never had a Dr. Pepper and asked what it tastes like," he tweeted.

"I have no idea how to describe it -- how would y'all do it?" he asked.

Marcel Louis-Jacques covers the Miami Dolphins for ESPN and appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and more.

The question feels like a Zen koan such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What do you call the world?"

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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