Are you looking for a great way to help others, learn new skills, gain experience, build your resume, and meet more people? Try volunteering! There are many ways you can help those in need, whether it's in your own community or on the other side of the world. 1st Financial Bank USA believes in the importance of giving back. Here are 25 different ways to volunteer in your community.
1. Serve in a Soup Kitchen
Soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers to help serve food and cook meals. For some people, a meal at a soup kitchen may be the only food they have for the day. You also might be asked to greet regular patrons and welcome newcomers to the facility. A soup kitchen gives you the opportunity to accept people at their various stages of life. It's a rewarding way to connect with the veterans, elderly folks, parents, and children in your community.
2. Aid Your Church
There's a good chance that churches in your community are seeking volunteer help. Churches usually host a variety of activities to bring members and non-members together. Some churches are non-profit organizations, meaning that they have a few staff members on the payroll, and rely on volunteers to assist with the rest of their activities. In your church, you can help serve, sing in the choir, hand out offerings, organize church events, or even join a mission trip.
3. Spend Time at Summer Camp
Maybe you’ve wondered, “How can I volunteer in my community, but still have a lot of fun?” If so, being a summer camp counselor could be for you. Summer camps offer great opportunities for children to stay entertained until school is back in session. Not only do you get to teach the next generation of kids some valuable life skills, but you also get to enjoy the activities while teaching them. Volunteers typically help children learn new skills or information, but they also may facilitate watersports, provide meals, build campfires, play fun games, and form bonds with the children participating.
4. Assist Your School
Schools are almost always looking for volunteers, and because they have a wide variety of activities, you can usually help with an activity that you are interested in. If you prefer to work with adults, you can be a teacher’s assistant or take tickets at a sporting event. If you want to assist children, you can help serve lunch or watch recess. Volunteering at a local school is a great way to interact with younger minds and give back to your community.
5. Tutor Students
If you have ever been stuck on an algebraic equation or needed help with the phrasing of an important paper, you might have wished you had a tutor to help you. Tutors help give one-on-one attention to students who need to hear the material in a different way. Usually, a tutor will help find an easier way for the student to interpret and learn the material. This is a great way to spark your own creativity. Plus, you’ll get to help students build a lifelong love of learning.
6. Mentor a Child
While tutoring is helping a student academically, mentoring is helping a student in all aspects of life. Specific to Lee University, Big Pal, Little Pal, is a program that pairs up college students with children from the boys and girls club or other homes. This program, and mentorship in general, gives kids who may not have a good role model a chance to experience a healthy relationship with an adult.
7. Organize a Summer Reading Program
Students may forget some of the information they learned during the year over the course of the summer. Summer reading programs keep their reading skills active and minds fresh. Organizing a summer reading program is an excellent way to get kids to read a book, broaden their vocabularies, and learn something new. You can share your favorite books, offer prizes to children who meet their goals, and turn the program into a friendly competition, all while teaching children the importance of reading.
8. Donate Books
Donating books is a great way to give back to the children and families in your community. Old books from your childhood that you're still holding onto can help other children learn to read! Donating also helps maintain the budgets of schools and nonprofit organizations that may otherwise have to purchase new books. Plus, you can free up some space on your shelf to find another book you are interested in.
9. Help Out at a Homeless Shelter
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that roughly 3.5 million Americans per year are sleeping in homeless shelters, transitional housing, and public places not meant for housing (bridges, bus stops, etc.) Giving your time to those who are going through an unfortunate stage of life can make a difference. With the older residents in a shelter, you could cook food, clean the community kitchen/common room, or teach them a new language. Alternatively, you could spend time with the children in a homeless shelter by creating an art project or making cookies with them.
10. Visit the Elderly
The residents of nursing homes, along with the patrons of senior centers, may not see visitors often enough and would love to have some company. Even if you don’t have a family member who lives in the nursing home or goes to the senior center, you can volunteer at events, paint nails, read books, bring baked goods, make birthday cards, and so much more. The residents will enjoy the company, and the facility will be grateful for your help! You'll probably also hear some great stories about the good old days.
11. Assist Hospitals
You don’t have to have a background in medicine to volunteer at a hospital. Although hospitals are usually in need of healthcare workers, you can also help entertain the patients, their families, and the staff. Because a stay in a hospital is usually stressful, you can relieve some of the tension by playing an instrument in the lobby or by showing off your magic tricks. You may be able to bring a smile to a sick child's face or make an exhausted nurse laugh!
12. Serve in a Food Bank
According to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, a food bank is a warehouse that stores all of the food to be distributed to communities in need, and a food pantry delivers the food directly to the families and individuals that need it. Volunteering at a food bank or local food pantry may consist of donating foods, purchasing foods with a budget, and delivering food to those in need. As a volunteer, you will help provide those in need with the food necessary to keep them healthy.
13. Organize a Blood Drive
Blood drives are essential for hospitals and their patients. Often, the patients that need blood need it urgently. If you help organize a blood drive, you could actually be helping to save lives! If it is accepted, the blood that is donated at your drive will be waiting in a blood for those who need it, not the other way around. Consider working with others to see if you can organize a blood drive for your school or workplace. Best of all, you'll meet new people who are just as eager to help others as you are.
14. Donate Unwanted Items
Some people are not fortunate enough to be able to purchase every item at full price. These people head to shelters or thrift stores to pick up the items necessary for everyday life. Donating items that are unwanted or no longer used is a great way to help out your community. The gently used coats, blankets, and shoes in the back of your closet can make a big difference to others, while cleaning up some of the clutter in your home. Consider donating to local charities and women’s shelters.
15. Volunteer in an Animal Shelter
Have you ever wondered, “What can I do to volunteer in my community that doesn’t involve people?” Consider an animal shelter, as they are always looking for volunteers to keep lively animals entertained, fed, and groomed. You may think that playing with the animals cannot be considered volunteering, but helping the cats, dogs, and other animals become more sociable and friendly to humans, will increase their chances for adoption.
16. Help With Building Homes
Unfortunately, some people don’t have a place to call home. You may feel that you can’t help with their situation, but you can make a difference through organizations like Habitat for Humanity. This organization is local, national, and worldwide. They build and improve homes for those in need. Pictured: Two Siouxland Habitat for Humanity homes built with assistance from 1st Financial Bank USA.
17. Coach a Youth Sports Team
If you enjoy being active or have skills in a particular sport, coaching a youth sports team might be the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. You'll be able to share your passion, act as a role model, and help out parents who may be too busy to take on the role themselves. You may even learn a little more about the sport yourself.
18. Gift Christmas Presents
Operation Christmas Child is a great organization that allows families to put together shoe boxes of gifts to send to less fortunate children overseas. Any fun items or necessities that you can pack into the shoebox can be sent over. This is a great way to help others without having to travel yourself. Some common gift ideas are stuffed animals, crayons, coloring books, chapter books, and many other hygiene items.
19. Maintain the Environment
Take a moment to imagine a beautiful local park. There may be a playground and some botanical gardens, but you probably didn’t picture trash blowing through the park. Not only does this look unkempt, but it’s also bad for the environment. In rural areas, you can adopt a section of the highway to clean up the roadside ditches. Another way to keep the earth clean and beautiful is by planting trees in your neighborhood.
20. Package Meals
Many organizations around the U.S. make it easy for colleges, high schools, churches, and other groups to package meals for those living in poverty. These meals provide proper nutrients for the children and adults who receive them. No Kid Hungry and Orphan Grain Train are some of the organizations working to end world hunger one meal at a time.
21. Assist With Voter Registration
In the United States, most voters must wait until they turn eighteen to register to vote. Others may wait even longer if they don’t know how or where to register. You can assist with voter registration to eliminate some of these issues. Hosting a voter registration clinic can help the potential voters feel more confident, and you will feel good knowing that you helped more people to share their voice and fulfill their civic duties.
22. Help Out in Your Library
If you enjoy books and quiet, the library is the perfect place for you to volunteer. You will get to organize books, while finding new books to add to your to-be-read pile. If you like working with kids, then you can help young children by teaching, reading, and recommending books to them. Libraries can offer many different activities to engage children and help improve their cognitive skills.
23. Support the Red Cross
Red Cross is an organization that helps with disaster relief, blood donations, and more. Being a Red Cross volunteer provides experience in the medical field and allows you to help those in need. The Red Cross responds to disasters nationwide and helps communities recover. It may be difficult to see devastated communities, but you could have a part in helping them recover. In addition, you may meet new friends along the way.
24. Give Back to Local Foundations
Your community likely has a local foundation that helps support community members, schools, and businesses. This foundation might host events, fundraisers, and other contributions to improve the success of the area. Local foundations often seek volunteers through Facebook pages, posting flyers, or activities fairs. You can help improve your community by giving back to the foundations that aid your community.
25. Play at the YMCA
We know that it’s fun to stay at the YMCA, so it goes without saying that it can also be fun to volunteer there. Volunteering at your local YMCA is one way to be interactive with children and act as a role model for them. Plus, you can volunteer in your area of interest. If you enjoy working out, you can teach a class in the weight room; if you enjoy playing sports, you can coach an athletic team. There are many opportunities to help young kids while staying fit yourself.
Giving back to your community is a great way to improve the lives of others while growing as a person yourself. Plus, it is an activity that you can ask your friends and family to join. As you can see, there is a volunteer opportunity for each of your interests. While helping others, you may make new friends, learn new skills, and add memorable experiences to your life.
Now that you know how to volunteer in your community, you may think that you’re not qualified or are too busy to help others. Remember this quote by Elizabeth Andrew: “Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time; they have the heart.”
💚There are many reasons to volunteer in college. Read Why You Should Volunteer in College.
💼Volunteering can help job candidates stand out. Check out How to Present Yourself Online When Job Hunting.