How to Start Volunteering in the Local Community

World Humanitarian Day is August 19, and it’s a day the United Nations dedicates to celebrating all humanitarian workers around the world who have put their lives in danger – and even lost their lives – fighting for humanitarian causes. This is a noble line of work, and very important in many places around the world. However, don’t feel you have to become a humanitarian worker to help others. In fact, many humanitarians got their start much smaller, and closer to home.

You can get involved in your local community, too, as a one-time or ongoing volunteer at a cause you care about. Many busy people don’t have time to commit to a large, long-term project, but there are other ways to make a difference in your local area. If you feel strongly about anything, there is bound to be a nonprofit organization or charity you can get involved with, whether it is by fundraising, volunteering your time or donating items. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

If Your Cause is…

Children:

  • Volunteer at the children’s hospital, spending time with kids or families as they deal with illnesses
  • Get involved in scouting, as a leader or volunteer
  • See if there are opportunities at local clubs or groups that work with children as a mentor, volunteer or sponsor

Animals:

  • Walk animals at the local animal shelter
  • See if you have a local rescue or sanctuary that needs any help
  • Host a pet food drive to donate to a shelter (check with them first to see if there are any immediate needs for a specific type of food)

Homeless:

  • Volunteer at the homeless shelter, chatting or playing board games with people staying there
  • Serve food at the shelter or a soup kitchen
  • Carry water, granola bars and small toiletry items you can hand out to homeless people you may see on your commute

Environment:

  • Take a walk or hike and bring a trash bag with you to pick up litter along the way (you may even be able to find a local group cleanup to participate in!)
  • Help educate people on the issues related to the local environment in your area, like pollution, litter or other things
  • See if there is a community garden or community tree planting event – or organize your own

If you have a favorite volunteer activity you’ve been involved with in the past, whether that is through school or church or even on your own, you can get back involved. Once you have, share with your friends and family to inspire them to volunteer in their communities as well.

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