Food bank

7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community

By Natasha Wolff
food bank

Giving back to your community helps humans and the planet live better. Whether this involves donating clothing to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, volunteering at a food bank or voluntourism where you travel to aid in disaster relief, there are many ways to get involved and give back to your community.

How Can I Volunteer?

Research a cause you’re passionate about (be it animal rescue, homelessness or education) and find the volunteer opportunity that’s right for you. Find an opportunity that matches your skills, interests and schedule and then reach out to the nonprofit you’d like to volunteer with. A website like Volunteer Match or app like GiveGab helps you to automate the process of matching you with the right organization. Below, we’ve compiled seven easy ideas for how you can get involved in your community right now!

Work At A Food Bank

Try volunteering at a local soup kitchen church or homeless shelter. Food Banks are a great place to start, either by donating much-needed canned food goods or helping to pack or serve meals. If you can’t donate your time, donating to wonderful organizations like Feeding America’s network of food banks is an easy and affordable way to make a difference: for every $1 you give, you help provide 11 free meals.

7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community
Deliver Meals To Seniors

Common illnesses can easily leave seniors housebound, unable to purchase food. That is where programs like City Meals on Wheels step in. City Meals on Wheels has over 5,000 local chapters throughout the country, providing healthful meals weekly to over 2.4M seniors in need a year.

Help A Family In Need

Whether you have gently used baby clothes, an old stroller, toys or extra baby formula and diapers on hand, there are many families with babies in need of support. The Good+ Foundation and Baby2Baby are great organizations that serve women in need. Both accept item donations and can arrange messenger pick-ups for larger items.

Offer In-Person Support

From nursing homes and veteran associations to hospitals and homeless shelters, there are many locations where you can donate your time and make a difference one on one. Spending time with the elderly or a veteran in need leaves a lasting impact.

Men and women trying to get back into the workforce also find programs like Dress For Success and Bottomless Closet to be extremely helpful in order to achieve economic independence. These nonprofits offer computer help with job searches and creating resumes, finding a professional outfit for an interview and financial planning. By reducing these daunting barriers that people face during a job search, these programs enable applicants to look and feel their most confident and land the job they want.

Give Someone A Fresh Start

By converting buses into mobile showers and bathrooms on the streets of cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix and New York City, nonprofits like Lava Mae, Streetside Showers and Project Outpour are helping the homeless get clean. These refurbished buses offer soap (The Right To Shower is a proud partner of these organizations), towels and fresh undergarments to those in need. Getting clean gives people not only hygiene but also a sense of respect and the ability to go out and find a job while feeling fresh.

7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community
Help Someone Get A Second Chance

The Doe Fund in New York City offers programs Like Ready, Willing & Able which provide jobs for the homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals in the hopes of breaking the cycles of addiction, homelessness and criminal activity. They’ve helped thousands of people get jobs with fair wages and find homes for them and their families.

7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community7 Ways To Give Back to Your Community
Aid Disaster Relief/Be A Voluntourist

A project-based trip to Haiti, Puerto Rico or another area struggling after a natural disaster to construct a school or home, set up a medical clinic or donate time at an orphanage may be of interest if you want a hands-on experience. A 2008 study noted that 1.6 million people volunteer on vacation while spending around $2 billion annually. Being a missionary is another way to make a difference that is more hands-on and not just a financial transaction.

How To Get Involved This Holiday Season

One idea is to visit Puerto Rico and lend a hand on the ground there. Following the devastating impact of the hurricanes in fall of 2018, an estimated 23 to 31 million trees were completely wiped out, putting indigenous species at risk of extinction.

Para La Naturaleza(PLN) is an environmental organization on the ground in Puerto Rico that offers a number of volunteer activities perfect for families, solo travelers or tour groups looking to make a difference this holiday season. Working hands-on by sowing trees or maintaining nurseries aids in hurricane recovery and ensures a positive future for Puerto Rico’s natural surroundings.

Whether you decide to donate your time, vacation or make a monetary offering, there is a way for everyone to get involved on a meaningful level and give back to their community. And you’re sure to find a deserving organization that will speak to a cause you are passionate about.