Outdoor volunteering is the perfect way to spend a long summer day or even a sunshine-filled week. From helping out at community events to cleaning up a local forest preserve, there’s a perfect volunteer opportunity for everyone interested.
Many of us are lucky enough to have good jobs, friendly neighborhoods, and loving families to come home to, but we can often feel secluded in our daily routines. Giving back is a great way to help neighbors, organizations, and the environment, and it also makes you more appreciative for everything you have. Try one of the following opportunities this summer, and experience the joy of volunteering firsthand.
Habitat for Humanity
Since its foundation, Habitat for Humanity has helped build homes for people all over the world. The organization has volunteer opportunities available within your own community, which are perfect for those looking for a weekend project. It also has service opportunities and trips planned across the country and abroad, so you can add one to your next vacation itinerary. Remember to invite your family and friends to join you. Giving back with those you love makes the experience that much more valuable, and it’s a chance to teach your kids a few new skills.
One of my favorite outdoor activities is running, but the experience is even more gratifying when a race for charity is your main training goal. Whether you prefer running 5Ks or the full 26.2-mile marathon, there are ample opportunities to raise money for a worthy cause as you log your miles. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the American Heart Association are just two of the great organizations that build charity running programs into their values. Want to support a local business or even a family friend in need? Set up a GoFundMe page where supporters can donate to your unique cause.
Clean Up Mother Nature
From widely visited national parks to local forest preserves, litter is a major problem. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, three out of four people admitted to littering in the last five years. Fight this trend by spending just one free afternoon at a community cleanup event. Many government agencies have them on their calendars, like California Coastal Cleanup Day, but you can always contact city hall to set up your own. Sometimes taking out the trash is all you need to improve the environment in your own neighborhood.
Keep It in the Community
There are countless ways for individuals and families to give back across the country, but nothing feels better than helping out right in your hometown. In Chicago we have the One Good Deed Chicago program, which matches volunteers with opportunities and organizations that complement their skills and availability. From mentoring students to working victory gardens, numerous volunteer experiences can be found through this program. If you want to volunteer in your community, but you don’t know where to start, call or visit city hall after work one day and ask how you can be of service while enjoying the nice weather. Depending on your availability, you could bake for a school carnival fundraiser or even coach a youth soccer team.
Work with Animals
There are tons of outdoor volunteering positions in place that benefit animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) offers great ideas, big and small, on its website. The organization’s plans include campaigning for humane legislation and even fostering an animal in need while they find a permanent home. Don’t have the time? Offering to walk a neighbor’s dog and handing out literature on the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars are two easy ways to help our four-legged friends this summer while enjoying some sunshine.
Summer volunteer activities are a chance to give back, but they also make you feel grateful and more connected to the world around you. Rather than watching reruns in the air conditioning in your free time, enjoy warm weather and a full heart by trying one of these volunteer opportunities with family and friends.
What’s your favorite outdoor volunteer activity? How do you plan to give back this summer? Let us know on Twitter!
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.