No one can accuse young, work-hard, play-hard, urban professionals of being lazy. Yet ask them if they do much volunteer work and there’s a good likelihood they’ll say “No.”

Known for their drive, enthusiasm and strong desire to be head honcho, generation Y hardly has time to spare. While pursuing their lofty goals, some admit they’ve easily neglected donating any of those rare free moments to charitable work.

“I knew I wanted to get involved with volunteering. But I say that to myself every year,” says Janelle Maregman, of Brampton.

Thanks to an innovative event that brings under one roof everything a would-be volunteer might need, the 22-year-old student and accounting intern is at long last entertaining her altruistic goals.

Billed as part volunteer fair, part silent art auction, part night on the town, an event called Timeraiser —now spreading across the country — is meant to plant the seed of good work, nurture it and help it grow.

The novel concept is simple: Hundreds of people, dressed to impress, mingle with artists and representatives of not-for-profit organizations that are seeking volunteers — all the while sipping wine and grooving to cool tunes.

As they discover opportunities that match their skills and interests, they scope out artwork by mostly emerging and local artists.

Attendees bid on those original works of art not in money, but in time: They must pledge to complete the greatest number of volunteer hours to score a piece.

Combined, all previous Timeraisers have garnered 42,000 volunteer hours, seen $245,000 invested in the careers of emerging artists, hosted 3,300 Canadians and given exposure to 250 non-profits.

With its trendy but authentic vibe, the social affair targets the reasons why Canadians in their 20s and 30s are among the groups least likely to volunteer: Nobody asks, they don’t have time and they don’t know where to find meaningful opportunities, according to Imagine Canada’s Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating.

For more information see timeraiser.ca.

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