How To: Give Back to Your Community
We are a generation focused on making a positive difference in the world. Just last year, 13 million teens volunteered roughly 2.4 billion hours of service in communities across the nation, and it’s not hard to understand why when the side-effects of such work are new friends, feeling proud of yourself, and improving the well-being of our hometowns.
Sometimes it can be really hard to know how to give back to our communities though — especially if you’re not formally part of a club or group geared toward volunteerism. Knowing where to go, what work you would be interested in doing, or who needs the most help can be pretty convoluted. Whenever I’m considering a new volunteer opportunity and feel overwhelmed by the variety of needs in my neighborhood, I always keep in mind that no time spent giving back is time wasted. You can’t make a bad decision when you’re deciding how to volunteer!
To help figure out what type of volunteerism fits you best, I’ve listed some of my favorite ways to give back to my community. I would also encourage you to take advantage of the “volunteer asks” that organizations in your area make — looking on your favorite local non-profit’s website or social media can be a really easy way to find a volunteer opportunity that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about!
Pack lunches at your local food bank
Food banks are always in need of extra hands and it’s a really easy, important, way to serve your community. Giving just one hour of time to a food bank can equate to hundreds of pounds of sorted and washed food, or packed meals, for folks who would otherwise go hungry.
Donate toys and clothes to the YWCA
If your town is anything like mine, then the YWCA is a central resource for families in crisis. Giving toys and clothes is a universal and meaningful way to help women and kids get back on their feet. Helpful tip for picking out what to give: If it still works and isn’t worn out, then it’s perfect!
Bake cookies for your neighbors
Making something for the people you live around is a community-centered gesture, flexes your baking muscles, and show your neighbors that care about them.
Volunteer some time at the animal shelter
This is my favorite suggestion because it’s how I met my dog, Koda! Most of the dogs in an animal shelter don’t have a lot of opportunities to run around and play, and they are so happy and grateful when people come to take them on walks. If the shelter has “adopt me” vests that a rescue pup can wear during walks, then this is also great way to help get them adopted, too! Tip: Ask for treats from the shelter (for pups that aren’t allergic) and to help continue a pup’s obedience training while you’re on the walk.
Pick up trash in your neighborhood or a park
Helping beautify the spaces that many people use and play in every day is a really resounding way to positively impact your community. Picking up trash in your neighborhood helps improve community health, is good for the environment, and is a fun to do with friends! Tip: make sure to wear gloves and use heavy-duty trash bags.
These are my favorite ways to volunteer, and there are infinitely more important ways to give back to your community. Volunteering makes us feel good, connects us to other people, and makes our world a little bit better. So do a little research and get involved!
Do you have a favorite way to volunteer? Share it with us in the comments below!