For the last five years Rory Platow has volunteered through the Cape Fear Volunteer Center. He lost his job three weeks ago, and is now looking for a new one, but that hasn't limited his volunteer hours. “Six hours working with trying to find a job, working with everything I need to do there, I still have quite a few hours to work with the volunteer center,” Platow said. In fact, Platow now volunteers 10 to 15 hours each week with the volunteer center's Big Buddy Program, which pairs kids with adult mentors. Executive Director Annie Anthony said he's not alone. “People that are unemployed, who are trying to make sure that their resumes don't have a gap in time from when they become unemployed until they get that new job. So they are filling that time with volunteering opportunities,” Anthony said. The volunteer increase is not limited to our area. Last month, the national unemployment rate reached 7.6 percent, while volunteer service increased as much as 16 percent. And with more people volunteering, places like Vintage Values on Castle Street have more of a say on the people they choose to fill their positions. Billie Blackwell of Vintage Values said, “We have become a little more selective. We've been afforded that advantage. We've had more people to volunteer so we can be a little more selective.” The proceeds from Vintage Values support domestic violence victims so Blackwell looks for volunteers that share the same values, but she said there's no such thing as too much volunteering. Whether he is employed or not, Platow agrees. “It just feels like something you should do.” Anthony said 99 percent of Cape Fear Volunteer Center volunteers sign up on the internet through websites like 1-800-volunteers.com. If you would like to donate your time, you can browse through nearly 300 organizations that have partnered with the Cape Fear Volunteer Center.
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