Everyone knows the benefits of volunteering, but not everyone knows quite where to start or what to do. Here, I've compiled just a few of the numerous options I found by looking around online for a bit for some good, outside-the-box volunteering opportunities.
VolunteerMatch - This site will use your location to find numerous volunteering opportunities of all kinds in your area.
Serve.gov - Find volunteering opportunities near you.
Free Rice - For every word you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme.
7 Cups of Tea - Take a short online training course in active listening in order to chat with anonymous people who need someone to listen. 7 Cups also has forums and group chats, and you control how much time you put in.
Crochet for Cancer - Crochet (or knit) a chemo cap (patterns available on the site) and mail it in to the nearest Crochet for Cancer chapter, where volunteers will take your caps to local hospitals to distribute to cancer patients losing their hair.
Project Linus - Craft a blanket for a child in need.
More Love Letters - Write notes and leave them in public places for others to find, or send letters of encouragement to those on a request list on this site.
Girls Love Mail - This organization collects encouraging letters and distributes them to women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Operation Gratitude - Send a letter to a service member.
Letters Against Depression - Sign up as a volunteer to send letters of encouragement to those facing depression.
Most volunteering/charity sites will include the option to donate financially in addition to other opportunities.
World Vision - From their site: “Sponsor a child, and your monthly gift helps bring essentials like clean water, nutrition, education, and hope to your sponsored child and the community. When you sponsor a child, you can build a relationship with your child through letters and photos. Sponsor a child for $39 a month and help a child and community break free from poverty for good.”
Compassion gifts - Essentially donate a specific amount to be used toward a particular need, such as funding for water wells or medical care.
Goodwill - Donating used items to your local Goodwill is a great way to get rid of clutter and support a charity at the same time. According to the site, there are also more active volunteering options.
Red Cross - In addition to monetary donations, the Red Cross includes various chapters to get more actively involved with.
Your city’s website - Most cities will have a website where you can find pages like “volunteering” or “get involved” to find what volunteering communities are available in your area and where you might fit in.
Your local nursing homes - Children choirs stomp through in droves during the Christmas season, but at every other time of year, many homes suffer from lack of entertainment. Residents tend to be very accepting of anyone willing to talk to them, play music for them, etc.
Picking up litter - No matter where you go, there will usually be litter. Because of that, getting a trash bag and a pair of tongs and heading to the local park for litter removal is always a great option for volunteer work.
Gleanings for the Hungry - Stay in Dinuba, CA for a week (or sometimes more) and make dried peaches in the summer and soup mix packets in the winter.
There are, of course, way more ways to volunteer than I could possibly list in a single article, but these are some of the ones I've found myself. There's definitely a lot more options than a soup kitchen. No matter your situation, it's likely you'll be able to find something, so why not give volunteering a try, and give back to your community in the near future?