There are alternatives on how to spend unemployment outside of Maury Povich, ice cream, and tears. As you can see from the video report many Americans are spending their newfound free time assisting others. Although some do indeed look towards volunteer work solely from its potential networking benefits, others are simply coming to the realization that their lives could be a lot worse and thus have decided to lend a helping hand. There are conflicting reports on exactly the number of Americans who are performing volunteer work, however.

A recent survey conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship claims Americans have cut back on their volunteerism and civic activities. Yet states like Minnesota, Massachusetts and Florida are reporting surges in activity.

Regardless of the exact number of people out volunteering, isn’t it good to see the recession highlight the goodwill in so many people? For those laid off, fighting off credit card companies and mortgage companies, no one would fault you for sitting in front of your TV slouched up counting down to the episode of Oprah where she reveals her favorite things that you know you can’t afford.

Yet, instead of being saltier than Tony Chachere people are out helping others.

To those laid off: Has the recession inspired you to hug a tree or someone’s bad little kid or are feeling like Oscar sitting in the dumps?

I’d love to hear from you.

Leave your feedback below and send your own recession tale by writing therecessiondiaries@gmail.com.