Get into the spirit of the season by giving back to those around you. Through volunteering to donate your time to local charity organizations, you can warm up the winter months and gain a good feeling!
There are plenty of opportunities for you to reach out, make an impact and enjoy yourself at the same time. Many organizations within the local community rely on volunteers in order to keep things going smoothly, so even small increments of time, like once a month or an hour a day, can make a huge difference; no amount of time is too little! Volunteering can be as easy as spending a few moments of your time making a new friend, sharing your talents or performing simple tasks. Volunteering is also a great way for families to spend time together, and can be a valuable learning experience for kids.
Many nationwide non-profit and charity organizations have been recognized for their contributions thanks to the efforts and good deeds of individual volunteers, who together are the core of these invaluable programs. Here are just a few of the groups you may want to get involved with to help make a difference:
If you want to share your abilities, your passions and your time working toward the greater good of people throughout your area, the United Way is one of the best ways to go. This diverse organization works with local groups to supply advocacy, education, health and other programs to people throughout the community. Share your expertise, your experience and your willingness to help others achieve their potentials and gain access to valuable services. The time you spend will benefit everyone. For more information, go to www.liveunited.org/volunteer/.
You’ll see the difference you can make simply by being a caring friend to a child or teen when you volunteer with the Big Brother Big Sister Program. This group has forged friendships between children and adult volunteers for over 100 years! Volunteers fulfill the positive role of “big brother” or “big sister” to a child between the ages of six and 18. An hour or two of your time spent playing games, chatting and having fun can help create the path to a strong future in a young person’s life. For details, visit www.bbbs.org.
Share a laugh over a cup of tea, listen to a story of the past or just lend an ear to a senior citizen in need of a friend through the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Program. The program’s goal is to ensure that elderly people, who are often alone, spend their days filled with good conversation, caring company and the sense of well-being that comes from having a friend’s visit to look forward to. For more information on getting involved, visit www.littlebrothers.org.
Do you enjoy the outdoors? The Army Corps of Engineers Volunteer Clearinghouse has plenty of opportunities for you to assist with the care and upkeep of parks, trails and wildlife habitats. You can also take part in educational programs, lead tours or do photographic documentation work. This benefits the community, as well as the environment! For more information on opportunities available near you, visit www.lrn.usace.army.mil/volunteer/.
Fill an empty plate by joining forces with Feeding America. This program’s mission is to alleviate hunger in communities across the nation by working tirelessly with grocery store chains, food banks and other local organizations to collect and distribute food to those in danger of going hungry including children and families. For more information, visit www.feedamerica.org.
Can you swing a hammer? Habitat for Humanity is an international program that focuses on providing a very basic necessity – a place to call home. Habitat for Humanity, with the generous help of volunteers, builds simple, affordable houses that give families safety and security. They combat homelessness and poor living conditions, making a better life for those in need. For more information on how you can help, visit www.habitat.org.
To narrow your search, match-up organizations can help you find a suitable volunteering position based on what you would most enjoy doing and what population you would like to serve. One such network is Volunteer Match, which maintains an online database of non-profit organizations seeking people to volunteer. The website is searchable by location and area of interest, and gives a brief description of each organization along with contact information. For more information, check out www.volunteermatch.org.
When it comes to volunteering, even a little means a lot. Seek out opportunities to help in your community!