I've written about this topic before, but it bears repeating.
If you're a genealogist who's interested in helping others, doing more with your research skills than digging into your own family's past, and pushing your sleuthing talents to new levels, I can't think of a better way than volunteering for Unclaimed Persons.
If you're new to this concept, here's an introduction from the group's website, Unclaimed Persons:
"It's a quiet but disturbing epidemic. People are going to their graves with no family to claim them. Medical examiners and coroners' offices -- frequently overstretched with burgeoning case loads -- are turning to an unexpected resource for help. Over 400 genealogists are now offering their volunteer services to help locate the next of kin for unclaimed persons. And it's working. To date, 208 cases have been solved through this unusual partnership."
Four hundred volunteers might sound like more than enough, but it's not. As you might imagine, with current economic conditions, this epidemic is reaching new levels at the same time budgets are being slashed. More and more coroners are turning to Unclaimed Persons for assistance, and now, Unclaimed Persons is asking for your help.
Please go to Unclaimed Persons and request to join. The research is done in a private Facebook group to allow for more open discussion on individual cases. You'll be asked to read a set of guidelines and agree to abide by them, and then you'll be welcomed. After that, the choice is yours whether to observe for a while or jump in on a recently posted case.
So as you make your 2011 genealogical resolutions -- finding out what happened to that mysterious great-grandfather or jumping into the world of genetic genealogy -- please consider adding Unclaimed Persons to the list. The 2012 you will be glad you did.