Every year, life seems to get a bit busier. Between work, family obligations, and making plans with friends, it’s difficult to find time to give back. The good news is easy volunteer ideas are everywhere in your community. Even if you only have an hour of free time, you can use those 60 minutes to positively affect the world around you, with these five activities.
Visit an Assisted Living Facility
No matter where you live, you can find a retirement home within a few miles. Some residents of assisted living facilities rarely go out due to health reasons, so a friendly visit from a neighbor keeps them connected with their community. Many facilities have volunteer programs in place that can pair you up with an interested resident for regular visits. If a one-off opportunity is more your speed, you can simply stop by with a homemade batch of cookies or to play a game of chess.
For the small price of a stamp, you can send a letter of gratitude to a soldier stationed overseas. This simple gesture has the power to uplift the brave men and women in uniform by letting them know their service is appreciated, while also providing them with a comforting voice. A Million Thanks is a non-profit organization that offers tips on how to compose your correspondence and makes sure your letter finds its way to a member of the military.
According to the American Red Cross, “one pint of blood can save up to three lives.” From start to finish, the entire process of giving blood takes about an hour and can be done by participating in a blood drive or by making an appointment online. Sometimes you experience dizziness after giving blood, so be sure to have a snack on hand and drink lots of water following the procedure. If you’re a first time donor, it’s also a good idea to avoid strenuous activities on the same day as your appointment just in case you feel a bit weak.
A cause that’s close to my heart is animal advocacy, especially when it comes to rescue pets. If you find that you have extra time available, local animal shelters are always looking for a helping hand. In my hometown of Chicago, PAWS has an extensive list of volunteer opportunities including working with cats, humane education, and helping with events. Many shelters also have “wish lists” posted on their websites letting you know what items they need donated. These lists usually include things like paper towels, dog toys, and cat treats. To start volunteering and making an animal’s life instantly better, check out the Animal Humane Society for more information.
Help Your Community
When looking to make the world a better place, sometimes, it’s best to start at home. There are plenty of opportunities to give back within your own community. Taking time to pick-up litter at the park, shoveling an elderly woman’s driveway when it snows, or making a home-cooked meal for a homebound or grieving neighbor are all good ways to help out on a time budget or while you take care of other chores. These quick volunteer opportunities can be made even more rewarding by getting the entire family involved.
Easy volunteer ideas don’t need to take a lot of time or money. Even small gestures like saying “hello” to fellow shoppers at the grocery store or giving a dollar to a homeless person in need of a warm cup of coffee can go a long way towards making the world a better, more positive, place.
What are some of your favorite volunteer opportunities? Let us know in the comments section or send us a #GoodMatters tweet!
Image sources: Wikimedia Commons | Laurie Fanelli
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.