Volunteering: 8 Easy Ways to Make an Impact

By: Mollie Shauger | Friday, November 8, 2019 | Social Responsibility

Volunteers fill boxes with canned goods and packaged foods. Credit: YMCA

Note: This blog has been updated from a previous version.

With busy schedules, finding the time to give back in the community can be hard. But even small tasks or gestures can make a big difference in other people’s lives.

Volunteering is another way to connect to your community and make it a better place. During the holiday season, individuals and families will spend time doing acts of volunteerism. Here are some ways to give back any day of the year.

1. Volunteer at school or child care

Helping out at your child’s school or child care center is not only a great way to meet other families and teachers, but it’s also an opportunity to spend time with your child and show that their school activities matter, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you don't have the time to serve on a parent-teacher organization, you could help out one day in the classroom or with a special event, or help to chaperone students on a field trip. 

2. Volunteer at an event

Nonprofits like the YMCA rely on volunteers to help with events, fundraisers, and other programs. The YMCA'sTogetherhood program provides opportunities to help with community service projects. The website volunteermatch.org also allows you to search by location and to see what other organizations have service opportunities available.

3. Care for the environment

Taking care of the earth benefits everyone in the community, and that could be as simple as picking up trash at your local park. Also, planting a tree in your neighborhood can help keep your street shady and cool, and benefit the planet by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the air, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

4. Help out a local food bank

In New Jersey, one in 10 people struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America. Spending a few hours each month volunteering can make a huge difference for food banks and the families they serve. When grocery shopping, consider picking a few additional nonperishable items to donate to a food bank, especially around the holidays, when many pantries are in need of extra supplies.

5. Help out a neighbor

Giving back to the community can be as simple as showing kindness to those right next door. This could include assisting an elderly neighbor with landscaping or snow removal, or getting their mail for them. Join a neighborhood association or community watch program where you can meet other residents, work on beautification projects together, and create a sense of pride in your community.

6. Give the gift of life

Blood donations aren't just needed after major disasters; there are daily emergencies and ongoing medical needs of hospitals, such as surgeries and transplants, that require a constant and ready blood supply, according to Vitalant. Giving blood is a safe and easy process that doesn't require a lot of time.

7. Donate old or unwanted items

Even children can get involved in giving away old clothes or toys. Give them a bag and have them pick out at least one or two things they no longer play with or wear, and make it a regular practice. Check to see if organizations or police and fire stations in town are accepting donations or holding drives for charities like Toys for Tots

8. Start an online fundraiser 

If there's a specific cause or charity you're passionate about, you could raise money through crowdfunding using online sites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter. Share on your social media to reach more people. 

Volunteer today


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