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[Editorial] Efficient Volunteer System Needed

Posted December. 15, 2007 03:36,   


It is good news that volunteers across the nation are gathering on the Taean coast to clean up the oil slick caused by the worst oil spill in Korean history.

Despite the chaotic political conflicts and ordinary citizens’ economic hardships, that shows that our society is still healthy and has the power to unite.

The oil spill requires many people who can help clean up the oil slick and remove oil covering stones and rocks along the seashore. The cleanup, which seemed to be impossible for the residents to complete, is now gaining a momentum with the help of volunteers. Koreans can show the power that 300,000 Japanese volunteers showed back in 1997 after the Mikuni oil spill in Japan.

Volunteering is not a mandatory requirement, but a service in which one donates one’s mental and physical resources for others. It is one of the noblest human activities and is a strong motivation that unites and develops communities, resolving problems. That explains why the U.S., with a weaker social safety net than Europe, keeps its communities healthy.

In contrast, despite a large number of potential volunteers, Korea is poor at organizing them efficiently. After the recent Taean oil spill, there was almost no system that appropriately assigned work to unprepared volunteers. Even some local officials went as far to say, “It is not my job.” Some of them rejected volunteers because there were too many volunteers on weekends. Time is essential in the cleanup. It’s a pity to see such bureaucracy in action.

Everyone living in the U.S. can punch in their zip code to contact “Volunteer Match” (volunteermatch.org), an organization that connects organizations in need of volunteers with the public. We need to set up a national system that can help anyone who wants to volunteer anytime as soon as possible. Such a system is a basic requirement to enhance living standards and to become an advanced nation.