International Volunteer Day | December 5

International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations (UN) in 1985 to celebrate and promote the work and shared values of volunteers. It mobilizes thousands of volunteers every year.

On Volunteer Day, get inspired by learning about the heroes below. They come from all walks of life, but the one thing they have in common is looking around, seeing a problem to be fixed, and deciding to change the world they live in. Take 10 minutes and research different organizations working to help your community. Maybe there's a volunteer opportunity for you!

Credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

Jahkil has been awarded with the Youth Activist Award at the 19th MY HERO International Film Festival. 

60 Sec Docs with Jahkil Jackson

By: 60 Sec docs
Jahkil Jackson from Chicago is the founder of Project I Am, an organization raising awareness about homelessness.

Jahkil Jackson

By: Abigail Richardson
A Young Philanthropist Making a Big Difference

These Stories Highlight the Diversity of Volunteer Heroes 

'Building a Shower Trailer for Chico's Houseless on a Budget... of Love!' Receives Humanitarian Award

By: Deborah Neff, MY HERO Staff writer

Fire Station 3, Newington, ON

By: Brandon Poirier from Cornwall

These volunteer firefighters, including Brandon's dad, protect their rural town.

Jessica Mayberry

By: Eva Haller
Jessica Mayberry is the founder and executive director of Video Volunteers, an organization that teaches filmmaking to underrepresented communities in India.

Abdul Satter Edhi

By: Hasan Tariq
Abdul Satter Edhi was a Pakistani humanitarian and philanthropist who founded the Edhi Foundation, a social welfare program that crosses religious barriers.

Federica and Baby Malick

By: Cheikh Darou Seck

Baby Malick of Dakar received a lifesaving operation it Italy from volunteer Federica Iessi of One Life Onus.

Marilyn Bloss Koester

By: Mary
Marilyn Bloss Koester is on the board of directors for CHOICES, a Memphis center for reproductive health.

'LITTLE BIG STEVE': Winner of the Dan Eldon Activist Award in the 18th Annual Film Festival 2022

By: Naomi Gledhill
'LITTLE BIG STEVE': Winner of the Dan Eldon Activist Award in the 18th Annual Film Festival 2022

Nancy Caruso

By: Anabelle Vo
Nancy Caruso is a marine biologist who helped bring kelp forests back to the California coast.

Marcus Rashford MBE - Football Hero and Hunger Campaigner

By: Abigail Richardson
Marcus Rashford is an England Premiere League footballer who rose to fame playing for Manchester United and England and more recently for his work with FareShare[i] to help tackle childhood hunger in the UK.

Sarah Brown, Global Health and Education Hero

By: Abigail Richardson

These stories are available in text and audio, so you can listen as you read along.

Camille Zamora & Monica Yunus

By: Susan Gabriel Bunn from New York

Singers and Julliard alumni founded 'Sing for Hope', an art installation as well as a charitable event.

Durga Devi Ghimire

By: Annie Merkley

Durga Devi Ghimire is a courageous woman who stood up against the odds to achieve a higher education and to run her volunteer program, Future Nepal.

Learn about Volunteering Through Film

Introduction | Alex Epstein: The Power of Volunteering and Niger '66

Watch these films featuring inspiring volunteers. Total run time: 17 minutes

Building a Shower Trailer for Chico's Houseless on a Budget... of Love!

Produced by:Respectful Revolution
This video is one of the latest from the Respectful Revolution project that is dedicated to documenting humane solutions to our world's many challenges.


Produced by:Yves Matthey
A portrait of a guy with surprising resilience and his return to the shanty town, where he began his life!

Eva Haller Salon - Video Volunteers

Eva Haller

Alex Epstein: The Power of Volunteering

Producer: The Institute for Advancing Unity/The Working Group
A young man becomes an activist when his fellow citizens suffer from a national disaster.

Niger '66 - A Peace Corps Diary [Trailer]

Produced by:Judy Irola
A collective story from five Peace Corps Volunteers.


(1) Why do you think these people choose to do volunteer work?

(2) What kind of sacrifices are being made in their lives?

(3) How is volunteering different with youth and adults?

(4) Do you feel motivated to spend your own time volunteering?

(5) What causes inspire you to volunteer?


Learning Outcome

Students will be introduced to volunteers from different age groups and will be exposed to the satisfaction of giving selflessly. Seeing the value of volunteering will inspire students to become volunteers themselves. Students will be challenged to think about what they care about enough to offer their time as volunteers.


Lesson Plan | Learn about Volunteering through Art

Introduction | Artists illustrate humanitarian heroes to celebrate their dedication

Artists who illustrate their volunteer heroes do so in order to celebrate their heroes’ dedication to humanitarian causes and to the underserved.  Art can inspire each of us to become a volunteer and to contribute to our global society.


Sister Soeur Emmanuelle

By: Ben Heine

Sister Emmanuelle, a Belgian-born Roman Catholic nun and social activist, lived for more than two decades among the zabbaleen, the garbage scavengers in the slums of Cairo, where she established schools, clinics, and other social services.

Audrey Hepburn

By: Kayla from Laguna Beach

Audrey Hepburn was a British actress and humanitarian. She was an ambassador for UNICEF and worked to make children's lives better around the world.

Princess Diana

By: Elisabeth
Princess Diana worked tirelessly on behalf of charities around the world to raise awareness of a number of important humanitarian issues, including HIV/AIDS.


(1) How do each of these portraits illustrate characteristics of selfless heroes who work to help those who cannot help themselves? What kinds of artistic decisions have been made by each illustrator?

(2) How does the included quotation in the portrait of Princess Diana demonstrate an understanding of an act of kindness and selflessness?

(3) Ben Heine has drawn a compassionate and realistic portrait of Sister Emmanuelle? What do we sense about her from the way he has depicted her?  




Art can be a powerful tool to inspire acts of courage and kindness. When artists focuson hero es who have tirelessly given of themselves to the underserved and to humanitarian issues such as eradicating hunger and poverty as well as the need for universal education, the viewer becomes engaged in the subject and encouraged to contribute to a local or global issue. Encourage your students to discuss the qualities revealed in these portraits and to reflect on a global humanitarian crisis that resonates with them.


Organizer created on 11/29/2013 6:23:03 AM by Becky Miller

Last edited 12/5/2023 11:13:20 AM by Abigail Richardson