Volunteering is a great way to give back, but a lot of people don’t know where to start. Here’s how to volunteer in your community.
How to Volunteer in Your Community
Volunteering poses several benefits. It’s a good way to spend time outside and get some exercise. In addition to physical health, volunteering is also great for your mental health. It helps curb anger and keeps anxiety in check. If your stress levels have been through the roof lately, volunteering can bring them back down.
Beyond physical and mental health, volunteering also gives you an opportunity to socialize. It’s the perfect way to give back to the community, connect with others, and unwind simultaneously.
If you’re not really sure what you can do, here’s how to volunteer and get involved in your community.
1. Donate Items You Don’t Need
One of the best ways to volunteer in the community is to donate items you don’t use or need anymore. You’re fortunate enough to be able to buy the things you want and then stop using them years later. Others, though, aren’t as lucky.
If you’re in a giving mood, consider donating your unwanted belongings to a shelter or thrift store. There, less fortunate people can buy them at a fraction of the original price or even for free. That old coat in your closet could be someone else’s only source of warmth in the winter.
There are a number of organizations you can donate to. Goodwill, for instance, is a well-known organization with thousands of locations around the country. You can find a Goodwill store on their website. Other notable organizations include The Salvation Army, AMVETS National Service Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.
2. Donate Books
You’ll often find people donating old clothes, shoes, and household items. But if you want to clear some space on your bookshelf, you can also donate books. Donating books can help families and children in your local community. Kids can even use them to learn how to read.
You can donate books at Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity, and you can also donate books to local libraries or schools. Many libraries and schools are in need of books due to a lack of funding.
Look for libraries and schools in your area. If you don’t know where your local library is, you can visit your city or town government’s website. You can also find schools by visiting your school district’s website.
3. Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter
Helping out at a homeless shelter is one of the classic examples of volunteering in the community. Many Americans experience homelessness. Lending a helping hand to them during this trying time in their lives is sometimes enough to keep them going.
There are a few ways to volunteer at a homeless shelter. These include donating food and clothing, helping in the kitchen, and cleaning rooms. If there are kids, you can inspire them to tap into their creativity or teach them valuable skills.
You can look for homeless shelters in your area here.
4. Serve at a Soup Kitchen
Volunteering at a soup kitchen doesn’t have to be just a Thanksgiving tradition. You can do it all year round. At a soup kitchen, you can help cook and serve food to those in need. A lot of people go to soup kitchens because they’re the only place where they can get a meal. And giving your time here is not only rewarding but also a good way to connect with the community members.
5. Become a Mentor
Many organizations run mentorship programs that aim to introduce young kids to role models. By volunteering to be a mentor, you can teach a student valuable life skills and lessons. It also gives them an opportunity to form a healthy relationship with an adult.
6. Volunteer at the Red Cross
Red Cross is a well-known humanitarian organization that promotes volunteerism. The organization provides different social welfare services, including disaster relief assistance and health and safety training. To put things in numbers, Red Cross volunteers help respond to about 60,000 disasters per year.
While Red Cross is often associated with health and safety, you don’t have to be a doctor or nurse to contribute your time and efforts. You can make donations (in cash and in-kind), give blood, and become a blood donor ambassador.
Find your perfect volunteer role through the Red Cross website.
7. Plan a Blood Drive
You don’t need a medical degree to save lives. Countless patients need blood – and it’s often a life-and-death situation for them. By organizing a blood drive, you can supply blood to those in need and help others do some volunteering in your community.
Planning a blood drive takes work, though. You need a fairly large venue, other people to help out, and donors. The good news is that organizations such as the Red Cross can help you organize blood drives with ease.
8. Volunteer in an Animal Shelter
If you want to know how to volunteer in your community, consider helping out at an animal shelter. Far too many animals are found in shelters today. And they need volunteers like you to help groom and feed them. Best of all, you can also play with the cats and dogs in the shelter. This teaches them how to interact with humans, making them more likely to be adopted.
You can go to your local animal shelter and ask them if they need volunteers. Alternatively, you can find volunteer opportunities through The Humane Society and its many partner organizations.
9. Volunteer at a Local Library
A big part of volunteering is socializing with others, but not everyone has a long-lasting social battery. How can I volunteer in my community? If you’re an introvert or just a bookworm, a local library might be the best fit.
Here, you can organize books and return them to their rightful place, help people find books, and go through the checkout process. Many libraries even host live readings for kids.
Look for libraries by visiting your city or town government’s website.
10. Spend Time at a Nursing Home
One of the ways to volunteer in your community is to spend time at a nursing home. Residents of nursing homes and senior centers don’t always get a lot of visitors. As such, they will appreciate you spending an afternoon or an entire weekend with them.
There are plenty of things you can do, too. You can read books, cook them food, and dance with them. Even just exchanging stories with them makes for an enjoyable time for everyone.
You can search for nursing homes and senior centers online. Many state websites also have directories for nursing homes, senior centers, and assisted living facilities.
11. Help Out at a School
If you’re looking for volunteering activities for students, assisting a school is a good option. A lot of schools are in constant need of volunteers due to insufficient funding. Some of the things you can do to help schools include becoming a teacher’s assistant, organizing events, and serving meals at lunchtime.
You can find schools in your area by visiting your school district’s website.
12. Be a Summer Camp Counselor
Camp counselors can make a big difference in the lives of students. If you want to volunteer your time and help shape minds, apply for a summer camp counselor position. At a summer camp, you can teach children, pass on valuable skills, and participate in enjoyable activities.
There are many organizations that hold summer camps. To look for one in your area, simply do a quick search online. From there, you can inquire about any volunteer counselor gigs.
13. Help the Environment
One of the more unconventional ways to volunteer for your community is to help the environment. To do this, you can volunteer at a local park to help keep it clean. The National Park Service is always looking for willing volunteers.
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