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Looking for a few good boomers to help others

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Carr also volunteers as treasurer for a church group and helps people with paperwork for food stamps and unemployment.

"There's so much in the news today that's very negative, and a lot of it I can't do a whole lot about," Carr says. "But at least here in the community that I live in, there are some things that I can do to help others."

About a third of boomers, ages 48 to 66 years, tend to gravitate toward opportunities with a religious underpinning, according to CNCS figures. That was followed by volunteer opportunities in education, 22 percent; social service, 14 percent; and hospitals, 8 percent.

The percentage of boomers volunteering these days, however, is on the decline.

Nearly 22 million baby boomers gave their time in communities across the country in 2010. That's about 28.8 percent of boomers, down slightly from 29.9 percent in 2007 and from 33.5 percent in 2003, according to the community service corporation.

"What I think we're seeing is baby boomers coming out of the period of peak volunteering," says Nathan Dietz, former associate director of research at CNCS and now a senior program manager with the Partnership for Public Service. "They are getting older, and people as they get older volunteer a little less often."

Peak age for volunteering tends to be in the mid-30s and 40s, Mr. Dietz says, when married couples and those with children are more likely to be exposed to situations in which people need volunteers – say, coaching for a child's soccer team or giving time to local scouts or schoolchildren as a mentor or group leader.

Many boomers are also delaying retirement and working into their golden years because their nest eggs have taken a hit in the last few years, giving them less time to volunteer.

An August 2011 Associated Press-National Constitution Center Poll found that 65 percent of baby boomers had done some type of volunteer activities through or for an organization over the past year. That is significantly less than adults younger than boomers. The top reasons baby boomers did not volunteer in the past year were not having the time, 69 percent, and health issues or physical limitations, 19 percent.

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