Helping others is a way to invest in your local community. There are many worthwhile organizations where you can volunteer your time, donate money, or useful items. While you are giving back to the community, you’ll find that you benefit from the experience. You can learn new skills and make new friends.
You will be making a significant difference in the life of someone in your community. As there are so many community organizations doing great work, it may be challenging to decide where and how you want to get involved. Check out these ways that you can volunteer your time or give donations to a local organization in need.
Help at a Local Food Bank or Soup Kitchen
There are several ways that you can get involved in a local food bank. Volunteers are always needed to help sort food items, stock shelves, prepare, and serve food. You can also make a financial donation. This is always appreciated because most food banks are understaffed and underfunded. If your employer has a donation matching program, be sure to include the food bank.
Food donations are another way to get involved, but check with the agency before bringing food. You can find out the things they need and avoid donating what they don't. Plus, some agencies aren’t able to accept certain things; for instance, any products that need to be refrigerated. Alway avoid donating expired food or products with damaged packaging.
Consider donating blood at your local chapter of the American Red Cross. The need for blood is very high in the US. It can be life-saving during surgeries, serious injuries, and chronic illnesses.
According to the Red Cross, “Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the US.” All of the blood supply comes from volunteers, so your donation is always needed. If you want to make a big impact, you can also arrange to hold a blood drive at your workplace.
Volunteering to deliver meals to the elderly is a great way to contribute your time. Meals on Wheels is an organization that provides this service. Many volunteers get to know the people they visit, which is a rewarding experience. For the person receiving the meal, it’s a chance to see someone and helps to curtail feelings of social isolation. If you have a vehicle, this is a great way to volunteer and maybe brighten someone’s day.
Donate Clothing and Items to a Local Shelter
Homeless shelters and women’s shelters always need gently used products. Clothing will be welcomed, especially during the winter months, when warm clothes and winter coats are in high demand. The list of ends doesn’t end there, however. After you clean out your closet, head to your linen closet. Bedding, bath towels, and washed clothes are always useful. For the children in family shelters, consider donating toys, games, and puzzles. These are things they may not have access to. Also consider personal care items, such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, feminine products, etc. Baby products, including diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food, help families with a baby or young child.
Depending on who the shelter serves, they may also accept food donations and cookware. When you decide on which shelter you would like to help, check with their needs. Often, they will have a list of urgently needed items. Some organizations have programs that support women returning to the workforce and welcome gently-used business attire. The other way you can help is to volunteer your time.
Volunteer for a Bunk Bed Build Day
Participate in a build day with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP). The organization’s mission is to create beds for children. Fulfilling this need also provides physical, emotional, and mental support that children need. One of the many ways to get involved with the national organization is to participate in a build day -- a day when community members come together to build beds. SHP's goal is to donate enough beds so that no child has to sleep on the floor.
If you participate in a local community group, this is also a great way to do a little team building. Schools and corporations can also participate as a group. This opportunity is for anyone, regardless of age or skill -- builds require no prior building and power tool experience. They will teach you everything you need to know. Consider it an opportunity to help others while learning a new skill!
There are so many ways that you can contribute your skills, items, and time to help those in need. You need to take the first step. If you begin volunteering at an organization and decide it’s not a good fit, try another organization. Nonprofit organizations need the help of volunteers and donors to fulfill their work.