Everyone is busy and over scheduled but finding time to volunteer is worth the effort because the reward is always more than you imagined. People who volunteer are generally healthier and have a sense of worth knowing they are doing something good in the world. Parents who volunteer are teaching their children to be grateful and to give of themselves when the opportunity presents itself. Volunteering your time is a wonderful alternative to donating money or goods, especially if you are called to serve but are not financially able to donate. But finding those volunteer opportunities can sometimes be challenging; to help you get started, listed below are 5 easy and meaningful ways to volunteer your time.
Most communities have a local food bank working to assuage hunger in the area; food banks are always searching for volunteers and are generally happy to work with your schedule and abilities. Families or groups can volunteer to sort incoming food donations into their appropriate categories; even the youngest children can sort boxes from cans while older kids carry boxes and check expiration dates. Creating weekend survival kits for students who depend on school-provided meals, packing meals for the elderly or disabled, and learning about hunger and how it affects local residents are all part of the job at a food bank. Many food banks now also tend community gardens and need volunteers to help prepare the garden, plant seeds, remove weeds, and eventually harvest and wash the produce grown. This can be a wonderful experience for families who may not have a garden at home to watch a few small seeds change a person’s life.
To make a bigger impact on the community, adults can volunteer to be part of city boards and committees. Local government is chronically under-funded and over-worked so help is always needed on park and recreation boards, city ordinance committees, town festival committees and even the city council. Every citizen has the opportunity to help make changes to the things they complain about by joining one of these groups: you could revitalize your neighborhood park, change the zoning laws to allow chickens in backyards, help make your annual town celebration the best it can be, or work with other city leaders to determine the path your town will take into the future. If you cannot commit to a term on a board or committee, simply let a board member know that you are willing to volunteer your time to a specific cause and help when you can.
Churches offer myriad ways to volunteer your time so you can tailor your choices to your skill set or passion. Love to teach and impact youth? Volunteer to help with Sunday School or other youth programming. Do you enjoy decorating and crafting? Join the Altar or Decorating committee to help furnish the church and create seasonally appropriate displays. Are you handy and have your own set of power tools? Volunteer with the Building committee to help keep everything at the church running smoothly. Does a spreadsheet with perfectly balanced numbers make you happy? Consider joining the Finance or Budget committee. Or simply pray: pray for your church, your community, the world….what a beautiful way to volunteer your time.
Another beautiful way to volunteer your time and impact a life is to volunteer at a nursing home or center for people with disabilities. The simple act of listening, having a conversation, or playing a game can be life changing for a resident who may not get many visitors. You can arrange for scheduled visits with specific residents or to have your group or family perform for a number of residents at a time. Or you can simply stop in, check with staff about who might benefit from a friendly visitor, and make someone smile.
A somewhat more challenging way to volunteer your time is to commit to coaching a youth sports team or teach a youth arts class. Many communities offer recreational youth sports programs and are always short on coaches. Even if you do not have a child participating, if you are knowledgeable about the sport and eager to help kids develop fundamental skills and learn life lessons, you are qualified to volunteer. Talk to a local YMCA about available coaching opportunities or creating a class you would love to teach such as watercolor painting, yoga for kids, or photography.
The volunteer possibilities are endless if you are willing and able to give of your time and energy. Find your passion and go be the good in the world.
For 15 years Mimi Rothschild has been privileged to help hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers educate their children at home. The MorningStar Academy is a private online Christian school offering diplomas and teachers. The Jubilee Academy is an online Christian curriculum provider offering over 150 full year online Christian courses for PreK-12.