Imagine the impact of a 12 millionstrong army of people willing to do whatever it took to accomplish their mission?
That's the power of volunteers in Canada.
Recent estimates suggest there are as many as 12.5 million volunteers in this country, in innumerable organizations and positions, providing a grand total of an estimated 2.1 billion hours of work. More than two billion hours worth of neighbourhood cleanups, handing out hot lunches to the homeless, raising funds for medical research, lending a hand at a hospice during someone's final hours of life, taking part in school field trips and activities, delivering supplies to children in need . well, the list could go on and on.
It's almost impossible to really imagine this country without the work of volunteers - especially in a day and age where the oft-used "belt-tightening" excuse seems to slip off the tongue of politicians every time a funding cut is made.
We give kudos to every single person who dedicates some of their free time and their energy, or donates a muchneeded chunk of change, to organizations and causes around the country.
We don't want to imagine our world without them doing what they do.
But the truth is that, all too often, relying on volunteers has become the stop-gap that has softened the blow of cuts in education, the arts, social services and more - one needs look no further than the necessity of school fundraisers, such as the Bandathon on today's front page, to see that in action.
But the cracks will show eventually. Volunteers will and should always play a key role in our society - but there are far too many instances where volunteering is filling the gap where our policy makers, governmental agencies, politicians - and our tax dollars - should be leading the charge.