When I think about giving back, donating money is often the first thing that comes to mind. We hear on the news about natural disasters, and we are encouraged to give a helping hand to others around the world.
I absolutely applaud giving money or your time to any cause that moves you. Yet, there are many worthy causes right in our own communities. Summer is a great time to volunteer and give back right in your neighborhood.
And, if you have kids, summer break provides the perfect opportunity to learn about the rewards of giving back. You can even get your workplace involved in volunteering in your area.
Here are 7 places you, your family or your company can volunteer in your community:
In my neighborhood, we have a local arts festival that can always use volunteers. Your community may have local festivals, bazaars, fairs, parades or other opportunities to help out with popular summer events. You can enjoy the festivities while giving back to your community.
You may have summer camps or day camps for the kids in your area. They are always looking for volunteers to help them with programs, cooking, cleaning or assisting with activities. You may have a special talent – such as painting, scrapbooking, sewing, etc. – that the kids will enjoy and the camp will appreciate your expertise.
Many parks or playground areas could use some cleaning up in the summer. You can contact a local park district and see if they have certain days for park beautification and want volunteers. You can also pick a nice day and take a few trash bags with you to the park. If you make it a habit to clean up the park or playground, your kids will also learn the value of keeping their environment beautiful.
Hospitals, nursing homes or hospice
Hospitals always need help any time of year. The types of things you can volunteer to do may vary greatly. You may be able to greet people, deliver flowers and gifts to patient rooms or read to children or other patients. You can also visit your local nursing home and provide companionship, read or play games with patients.
You can volunteer for hospice. While it can be an emotionally difficult experience, it can also be very rewarding. You may become the person the family relies on to visit the patient, run errands or do simple tasks for the family.
Many young boys and girls have only one parent, live with grandparents or have foster families. You can make an amazing, positive difference in a child’s life simply be spending time with him or her. Summer is a great time to get started with endless fun activities available for you to get acquainted. You can contact your local Big Brother, Big Sister or Boys and Girls Club. Your area may also have summer activities or group events where you can volunteer and provide mentoring for local youth.
Your church is a great place to volunteer. During the summer, you may be able to help with youth group outings, Bible school, special Sunday school trips or other events. While you may already volunteer at your church, find out if there are more ways you can help.
If you are an animal lover and looking for ways to volunteer in your community, an animal shelter may be a perfect fit for you. With warm weather, the shelter animals will enjoy spending even more time walking or playing outdoors. You can get some exercise, take advantage of the weather and make an animal’s day. Plus, spending time with animals can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and just make you feel good!
So, get out there this summer and find ways to volunteer in your community. You may even be surprised by the benefits of giving back.
Do you have favorite places that you like to volunteer during the summer? Inspire us with your stories!