It’s time to volunteer! Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, is held every year on the 4th Saturday of October. It is sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation.
Volunteering is fun – and it changes the lives of all those involved. Research shows that volunteering not only helps others-it actually improves the emotional and physical well being of the volunteers! People who have spent time volunteering report that they receive much more satisfaction and joy out of the experience than they ever expend in inconvenience or effort.
Volunteering strengthens communities while contributing to the betterment of society. Volunteering teaches values like kindness, empathy, and respect while breaking down generational gaps and other barriers of misunderstanding. Beyond those more lofty benefits, volunteering can be a good way to meet people and develop friendships as well as providing insight into one’s own problems.
Volunteer work may be used to learn skills and gain experience to put on a resume. It is something that everyone from students to retirees can do in their spare time. Finally, volunteering often provides networking opportunities and is a means to create new contacts that may help in your business or career.
50 Things You Can Do to Help
1. Participate in food and clothing drives for the poor.
2. Hold a community clean-up day.
3. Collect school supplies for needy students.
4. Visit residents at an assisted living facility, children’s orphanage, or hospice.
5. Adopt a trail with the Forest Service.
6. Send a care package to a soldier.
7. Collect blankets, toiletries, and clothing for the homeless.
8. Provide yard maintenance/housecleaning services for elderly or disabled neighbors.
9. Launch a mentoring or tutoring program.
10. Take pets to visit nursing home residents or terminally ill children.
11. Clean your room and donate unused books and toys to a charity.
12. Hold a car wash or yard sale to raise money for a cause you care about.
13. Volunteer at an animal shelter, food bank, soup kitchen, etc.
14. Collect leftover restaurant/cafeteria food for a local homeless shelter.
15. Deliver meals to seniors or homebound persons.
16. Organize a neighborhood block watch.
17. Clean up a vacant lot in your neighborhood.
18. Start a flower or tree-planting project in a park or on roadsides in your neighborhood.
19. Adopt a charity and raise money for it. (Call the local BBB for info on local charities.)
20. Have a scavenger hunt to collect food for the needy.
21. Help families in need by having a “pounding” (an 1800’s tradition in which everyone brings a pound of flour, sugar, beans, rice, etc.)
22. Send “thinking of you” cards to a homebound sick child or elderly person.
23. Match children up with “adopted” grandparents they can spend time with.
24. Record books on tapes for the blind.
25. Teach someone to read.
26. Start a community service club or Good Deed Club.
27. Assist an elderly neighbor.
28. Collect canned food and/or clothing for the poor.
29. Pick up trash and/or collect recyclables in your neighborhood.
30. Work with a local charity to host a book, food, or toy drive.
31. Get local civic/corporate groups to sponsor a community improvement project.
32. Organize a volunteer fair at which the community can get to know local charitable organizations.
33. Volunteer at your house of worship or a faith-based organization.
34. Visit a homebound elder or someone else who might be living in isolation.
35. Volunteer at a local community center, school, or nonprofit organization.
36. Utilize your Internet home page as a ministry to promote messages of faith.
37. Learn sign language, so you can communicate with hearing impaired children.
38. If your family knows someone who is physically or mentally challenged, try to include him or her in some of your activities.
39. Visit hospitals with smiles, treats and friendly conversation for patients.
40. Bring a small tame animal to a nursing home for the residents to pet.
41. Plant wildflowers along the roadside.
42. Cut down some weeds or trim some trees in your neighborhood.
43. Visit a retirement or nursing home and spend the afternoon talking with the residents.
44. Call an elderly or homebound neighbor and have a pleasant conversation with them.
45. Drop off a plant, flowers, or homemade baked goods at a bedridden neighbor’s house.
46. Offer to prepare meals, do housework, or run errands for a new mom.
47. Volunteer at your local library.
48. Give a young mother some relaxing time alone by watching her kids for a couple of hours.
49. Host a neighborhood get-together for everyone to meet and get to know one another.
50. Bake a batch of cookies and give them to someone who needs cheering up.
Can you think of any other ways in which you could volunteer at your church, school, or within your community? Be sure to consider your interests and choose a cause that is personally important to you, so that you will be able to enjoy your work, feel that your valuable time is being used wisely, and have a sense that you are contributing something of worth to the world.