No matter your age, physical capabilities, income level, or schedule, there is a local organization who would love to have you as a volunteer.
Everyone knows those folks who seem to be involved in everything. They volunteer with their church, fire company, ambulance, Scout troop, local government, and anyone else who might need extra hands. Though we all agree that's admirable and our communities would be lost without these dedicated volunteers, the truth is that those who can give that much time to different organizations are few and far between. Many people don't want to volunteer because they hear that word and think "big time commitment." While that can be true, you can do more giving an hour of your time once a month to one organization than being a long-standing, but not very active, member of a few different groups.
As an example, you can give blood once or twice a year and help dozens of people just from those few donations. According to the American Red Cross website, 1 pint of blood can save 3 lives. Type O blood is the universal donor, so folks with this blood type are always needed, while type AB is the universal recipient, so they can accept types A, B, or O blood. You have to be 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health in order to donate. You can donate whole blood every 56 days or approximately every 6 weeks. This can be your only volunteerism all year and you'll have done a huge service for the community.
Need other ideas? Stack books at one of the local libraries. Be a Scout leader. Get involved with one of the many local historical societies. Be a driver for Meals on Wheels. Be a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Be a tutor for the literacy council. Serve on a board of directors of any type of organization. Adopt a grandparent at a long-term care facility and visit them for an hour each week. Hold a canned food drive. Give a few hours at the SPCA or any animal shelter. There are just 10 ideas off the top of my head.
It would be impossible to talk about volunteerism and not mention the many fire, police, and ambulance crews throughout the region. Every day, these brave men and women don't think twice about going into dangerous situations, often putting themselves in harm's way in order to help others. Besides the work they're trained to do, these folks hold a number of fundraisers and community service events all year round and they need the manpower to organize these events, so consider getting involved somehow.
And did I mention that being a volunteer is a nice addition to your resume? More and more companies are getting involved in the communities they serve, and they like to see job applicants who are already active. This means that these folks are likely to be some of the first people to step up to serve on a committee or participate in a company-sponsored community event.
Finally, did you know that there's a whole day devoted to volunteerism? Make a Difference Day was started by USA WEEKEND Magazine over a decade ago, and the purpose of the day is to help others in the community. Both groups and individuals can participate. If you have a project in mind, register on USA Weekend Magazine's website so that you will be officially recognized. Virtually any type of project is accepted. Just a few examples include neighborhood clean-ups, coat drives, working with children or the elderly, or mural projects. For more information or to register your group, visit www.usaweekend.com/diffday/index.html .