Give the Gift of Helping Others

A United Way Volunteer for 36 years, Joan Marsden knows a thing or two about giving back to the community she loves. And while she’s spent more than three decades volunteering with United Way through United Christmas Service, her days of serving others dates to elementary school, when she was first introduced to service work through the American Red Cross.


Growing up, Joan was the 8th of 15 children. At the age of 14, her mother passed away, and Joan took on the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings. She recalls the first Christmas without her mother and how the community came together to give Joan and her siblings a special holiday surprise.


“There were so many presents donated from the entire community – you could barely walk into the house,” said Joan. “People have always stepped up and helped me when I needed it, so I’m glad that now I’m in a place where I can help others.”


When Joan learned about United Christmas Service several years later, she knew it was a natural fit and couldn’t wait for the opportunity to help others in the same way people so generously once helped her. Since becoming involved with United Christmas Service, Joan has been a familiar face and comforting presence to everyone involved with the program.


“I just love helping people,” said Joan. “It’s such a joy to see a child’s face light up when they learn something new or receive a gift.”


For nearly four decades, Joan has remained a fixture at United Way, lending a helping hand wherever she’s needed. She has answered phones and mail, directed clients looking for help and worked with partner agencies when they visited United Way. And she’s always happy to provide treats to the United Christmas Service staff who work hard to make sure family’s needs are met each holiday season.


“United Christmas Service helps thousands of children and families at Christmastime every year,” said Joan. “With this program the money goes directly to families who need it the most, and that truly warms my heart.”


Outside of United Way Joan has volunteered with American Red Cross, Child Advocates, the Indianapolis Fire Department and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. And as if that weren’t enough, Joan also sings in her church choir and serves on several boards throughout the community. When asked why she gives back, the answer is simple.


“I truly think I was put on Earth to help others. I wouldn’t give up my time as a volunteer for anything,” said Joan.


Ready to sing? On the fourth Day of Giving, United Way gave to me … five volunteer hours, four Christmas ornaments, three Merry Money vouchers, two cheerful bothers, and one way to help my community.


United Way of Central Indiana gives thanks to our many volunteers. Like Joanie they give selflessly of their time to be of service to others! Share this story using the hashtag #uwci100 and tell someone how easy it is to donate to United Christmas Service, today.


Stay tuned tomorrow for the Sixth Day of Giving!