Time confetti refers to brief scraps of leisure time scattered throughout a day. How can one deal with time confetti? Instead of doing something to kill time, a growing number of people in different regions of China are choosing to work as volunteers in their free time. They are making full use of their time confetti, and they are participating in various socially useful activities.
The office of Tianmuxilu, a subdistrict in Jing'an, a district in Shanghai, on May 28, 2016, initiated Meeting One Hour, a voluntary activity of helping traffic policemen maintain traffic order for an hour at intersections in Tianmuxilu Subdistrict. The subdistrict office has been calling on residents to use their time confetti to participate in the activity.
To encourage residents, especially white-collar workers, to help maintain traffic order, the subdistrict office has taken the following measures: Made it easier for residents to register by allowing them to sign up on the subdistrict's official WeChat account; allowing volunteers to store their uniforms (which they must wear while on duty) in the subdistrict's volunteer service stations; giving volunteers greater options of crossroads at which to work; allowing participants to choose one hour from three periods of time — 7-10 am, noon-1 pm or 4-7 pm; and, allowing volunteers to divide their time with another person (two people dividing the hour into 30 minutes each).
The subdistrict office also established a reward mechanism. A volunteer can earn 50 points per one hour of volunteer work. The office calculates volunteers' points every month. Participants can exchange the points for gifts.
"I always hoped to participate in voluntary activities organized by the subdistrict office. However, in the past, the hours of the activities were fixed, and they conflicted with my work hours. Now, the hours of the activities are more flexible. It is easy for me to spare one hour to work as a volunteer on weekdays," says Zhao Haoran, who works in a company in Tianmuxilu Subdistrict.
Volunteering for one hour, whether per day, week or month, is fairly common in other regions of China. The neighborhood committee of Zhen'an, a community in Jiangdong, a district in Ningbo, a city in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, has also organized its residents to volunteer one hour per week. The neighborhood committee established the One-hour Volunteers' League seven years ago. Members of the league work as volunteers in their spare time.
"Now, the league has more than 100 members. The members not only do volunteer work for an hour … on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday, they also work as volunteers at other times that fit their schedules. The volunteer work includes doing household chores for the elderly and disabled people, looking after the elderly and repairing household appliances. Residents can participate in basic skills-training sessions … when they are free," says Weng Liangbo, secretary of the Zhen'an Community.
Wang Bin, a resident, says: "I am a mechanic. Every night, I spend one hour on duty at the community's activity center. If any family's pipeline or electric wire is broken, I will help the resident repair it for free. Our volunteers help other residents solve their problems, and the relationships between neighbors have been improved. I think our community is more and more harmonious."
Teams of volunteers, who work in time confetti, have grown in number in Huaiyin, a district in Ji'nan, capital of eastern China's Shandong Province. More than 30,000 volunteers have participated in socially useful activities organized by such teams.
Zhu Yude, a resident in Jingxiurongxiang, a community in Huaiyin, established One-hour Volunteers' Team, in November 2013. The team organizes socially useful activities nearly once a week. The activities include visiting elderly people in nursing homes, performing for elderly residents, cleaning rubbish from rivers and removing ads pasted on the walls in residential buildings. Now, Zhu's team has nearly 2,000 members.
"Some volunteers from other cities even participate in our activities. Many people hope to work as volunteers. However, they do not have much time. I established the team, as I hoped more people would take advantage of their time confetti. They can do volunteer work within their power for one hour a day, or one hour a week, even one hour a month," says Zhu.
(Executive Editor: DOU DOU, Women of China English Monthly March 2017 Issue)
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