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The Health Benefits of Volunteering

<p>Whether it's helping at a hospital, reading to the blind, or stocking a food pantry - there are countless ways to volunteer. And when you decide to help others, it can also benefit your own mental and physical health.</p>

JOPLIN, MO-- Whether it's helping at a hospital, reading to the blind, or stocking a food pantry - there are countless ways to volunteer. And when you decide to help others, it can also benefit your own mental and physical health.

"It's low stress, it's a break from my weekly routine and I love coming here." Freeman volunteer Anne Hodges isn't paid to work the hospital gift shop ... but that's not why she's here. "I love all the ladies I work with and it's nice to give back to the community too."

In fact, more than 300 volunteers donate their time in the Freeman system. Volunteer Program Supervisor Linda McIntosh says it's a big benefit for Freeman, saving about half a million dollars a year, but it also helps the volunteers themselves. "When you volunteer, it releases stress levels, it lowers your heart rate and it decreases depression."

And McIntosh adds there are also other intangible benefits. "When a person comes to volunteer, it also increases their self esteem and happiness level. Because they're out with other people. We have volunteers that make great, great friendships."

You can learn more about the Freeman volunteer program by calling the hospital and asking for Volunteer Services.

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