This last weekend, my boss and I helped as volunteers for the Downtown Renton Committee's annual Halloween party.
A public event aimed at kids and families, it was a tremendous success, thanks in part to volunteers from Renton High School and participating local businesses.
My boss frequently involves me in the volunteer work he does for such events, he being a member of the DT Renton Committee. But it was only at this event did I realize the innate benefits volunteering can yield.
At the Halloween party, a series of tents were set up in the empty lot behind St. Charles’ Place. Games and activities were arranged. Prizes were awarded. Food was served.
Having nothing better to do, I went to help at the Cake Walk. The Cake Walk involves several kids walking around on squares with numbers on them on the ground while music is playing, and then all of them stopping right where they are the second the music stops.
The person who stopped on the number I called out got a prize. I soon got the hang of it and began to have a little fun myself.
To the assortment of kids in elementary school or younger, I shouted, “Are you ready?”
They replied weakly, “Yeah…”
“I can’t hear you!”
“Yeah!” came their shout.
It dawned on me that my enthusiasm was contagious, which brings me to a rule I have about salesmanship: If you don’t care, they won’t care.
So I helped the kids march around the cakewalk, operated the music player, handed out prizes to the lucky winners, shooed would-be thieves away from the prize table, and kept them all entertained.
When the crowd began to disperse from my assigned attraction, I knew I had to change tactics.
I immediately went into pitchman mode.
“Come to the Cake Walk!” I shouted. “Win a prize! Get something good to eat!” (Benefits!)
Curious passerby immediately stopped. “Come on, we need people for the Cake Walk!” I said. “The more the merrier!” Soon, we had enough people, and we began to play again.
At another attraction I got to exercise my customer service skills. Here, kids had to throw bean-bags through holes in a giant pumpkin-shaped target.
After taking it over, I made sure that all the kids stood on the right spot, gave some brief instruction on throwing technique, and awarded prizes based on how well they did.
During this activity, I made sure to learn the kids’ names, inform them of the rules, and enthusiastically congratulate them on their progress. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but that’s my idea of customer service!
So if you’re a job-seeker, a business owner, or a regular employee, don’t hesitate to get in some volunteer work!
You’ll not only find it rewarding, but you’ll also get to practice soft skills related to customer service, salesmanship, and leadership.
Also, a belated happy Halloween to you all!
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing commentary on local and business news, along with notes on the state of the shop.