The Chicago Tribune reported last week that in some suburbs, unpaid volunteers are helping municipalities paint public buildings, work at the library and answer phones at the police department.
A sign of the times, especially in cash-strapped Illinois? Certainly. But is this trend just new to larger cities? Ways to localize the story:
-- Are municipal volunteers springing up in your town, or have they been there for decades, such as volunteer fire departments? When did such volunteering begin, and why? Was it to save money, or just because people wanted to help? If you haven't already, profile these folks weekly or monthly.
-- How can your area's residents help municipal departments with tasks such as answering phones, filing or helping with upcoming elections? List ways people can get involved.
-- Does your city or town government have internships, or employ or have volunteer positions for teens? Why or why not? What a great way to learn about government first-hand. Are there opportunities for teens with the summer coming up?