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20. April 2024
Volunteer Recognition Day
© UNICEF/ UN0599973

Volunteer Recognition Day: Commemorating Humanitarian Commitment Amidst Global Challenges


In a world of numerous obstacles, Volunteer Recognition Day is a moment of appreciation for humanitarianism and collective action.


This occasion serves as an important reminder of the transformational power that individuals can wield when united by a common goal.


This year, the light is shed not only on the tireless supporters of Ukraine who are working to restore peace and security, but also on everyone who voluntarily participates in various projects for the benefit of the global community.

Volunteer Recognition Day originated in the early 1970s, with the foundation of the Points of Light Foundation in the United States.


Former President George H.W. Bush supported this charitable organisation, which exemplified the belief that volunteerism is a keystone for societal resilience and communal well-being.


Subsequent milestones, such as the establishment of National Volunteer Week in 1985 and the recognition of Volunteer Recognition Day in 1991, emphasised the importance of acknowledging and promoting a culture of volunteerism.

At its core, Volunteer Recognition Day serves a multifaceted purpose.


Firstly, it honours the dedication and selflessness of volunteers, recognising their pivotal role in conducting positive  communal change. Secondly, it serves as an alarm calling to action and urging people to contributions to the benefit of society.


“By emphasising the significance of volunteerism, this day fosters a culture of social responsibility, transcending individualism to embrace common progress,” says Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff.

On this occasion, our thoughts turn to the thousands of courageous volunteers working to increase the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.


This war has taken a devastating toll on the country's most vulnerable: children are affected by violence, displacement, and deprivation.


“These selfless individuals, among the chaos of war, represent the spirit of kindness and unity, offering a helping hand to those caught in a state of struggle,’’ elaborates Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff who supports several voluntary projects providing humanitarian and educational help in Ukraine.

© UNICEF/ UN0230264/ Elrington

Amidst the conflict in Ukraine, which has resulted in over 30,000 civilian casualties and displaced 3.7 million internally and 6.5 million externally, volunteers continue to deliver life-saving aid.


In 2023, UNICEF volunteers delivered more than 100 relief convoys in collaboration with the United Nations, reaching over 8.76 million people, including 2.96 million children, in crisis-affected regions.


Their efforts included supplying equipment to 1,194 healthcare facilities, renovating shelters in 17 hospitals and perinatal care centres across 16 regions.


Yet, volunteers are working not only in the war zones, they are all around us. From humanitarian help and integration support in cities like Frankfurt am Main to sporting events like EURO2024, where 16,000 volunteers have already pre-registered. 

ZuBaKa - Ankommen in Schule und Stadt Frankfurt | © Witefield

Today, voluntary sports services are not just associated with large events but also have a strong presence in communities where they assist young people, sports clubs, and society overall.


For example, “Deutsche Sportjugend” offers the Voluntary Social Year (FSJ) to young people under the age of 26 who want to try their abilities at youth sports work. This programme serves as an educational and orientational year to encourage young people, in particular, to volunteer in society and take on responsibilities.


Such programs might be the reason why today, in Germany, we may be delighted that there are over 16 million individuals of our population aged 14 and up, who frequently volunteer in a variety of disciplines.

ZuBaKa - Ankommen in Schule und Stadt Frankfurt | © Witefield

Nonetheless, in a world full of turmoil, Germany welcomes an increasing number of refugees, with over 2 million in 2022.


Newcomers, like all visitors to any country, require assistance and advice. This is where a large number of volunteers are needed to assist with responsibilities ranging from language learning to administrative support.


On this particular occasion for voluntary service, we are grateful for the hard daily effort of each person who helps our country to integrate newcomers more smoothly.

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Now, volunteers stand as indispensable allies in the pursuit of peace, justice and an empathic environment where everyone has a chance to thrive.


Today, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who support and volunteer for a better life in Ukraine, Germany, Europe and the World.


Hand in hand, we are stronger!