We have all heard throughout our lives that volunteering is a good thing to do. “Giving back to your community,” is lifted up as something that the best people in the neighborhood are known for. And, many people, while young, do take the time to volunteer in various ways when they have time. The problem being that they often do not have a lot of time to contribute while they are raising families & working full time.
As we age, however, we have another problem that arises. We often do not have a lot of strength and energy left to contribute in the same way we could when we were younger. There are, however, still many needs which we can fill for our neighborhoods, churches & communities. This will be a partial list to start you thinking about how you can help to make the world around you a better place!
-Community Flowers. Many larger cities have landscaping companies hired to take care of boulevard plantings & corner flower pots. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of the small rural villages that comprise many parts of America, though, you could volunteer to keep your town green & colorful by planting & maintaining these public areas.
-Hospitals. Many smaller hospitals ask for volunteers to run their gift shops, libraries & even do some lighter front desk duties. You could also volunteer to visit those who are terminally ill & liven up their day a bit.
-Thrift stores. Many charities run thrift stores to try to offset the cost of the expenses incurred while they're doing their work . A few that are very common throughout the country are: Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Disabled Veterans, & St. Vincent's. There may be others in your area. Normally they need help with sorting, cleaning, folding & hanging clothing, as well as displaying numerous other items that are donated to the shoppe.
-Parks. Several pocket parks in small communities can use tidying up! Oftentimes if you notice an area is neglected, others have noticed it, too. If your town does not have a regular maintenance person to take care of this duty, you can go straight to your town board & ask if you can help. If playground equipment is in disrepair & you know how to fix it, offer your services. If there are items that need to be painted, volunteer to scrape & paint them if they will provide the paint. Small things like this can do wonders to improve the atmosphere where we live & might even be a catalyst for others in the area to spruce up their properties.
-Nurseries. If you love holding and comforting babies, you could volunteer at a day alzheimer care facility, or a larger pediatric hospital. They are often in need of people that can hold & rock babies, and studies have shown that babies that are held often are better mentally adjusted as they grow up.
-Sewing. Many shelters & hospitals are in need of blankets, baby hats, etc. Offer your services or get a group of sewers together to amplify your efforts.
-Cooking. If you love to cook there are ample opportunities for serving. Check with VA hospitals or nursing homes & see if you can bring a dessert of snack. Check with other groups to see if you can provide them help with a snack once in awhile. It may seem like a small thing, but it can relieve a great burden from others who are already doing too much.
-Libraries. Volunteer to help with books, or reading to small children. Some small town libraries operate fully with volunteer librarians.
-Food distribution. Several areas of the country have food distribution sites for the needy. They are almost always run by churches or charities that depend on volunteer help to be of benefit to the broader public. Even if you aren't able to lift heavy boxes, there are often other ways to help. Distributing produce or bread, or helping people sign in at registration tables or serving coffee to people who come through. A couple of places to check into are Ruby's Pantry & The Salvation Army. It helps a great deal to be able to help out those who are going through hard times.
If you are a little reluctant to volunteer in such an organized manner, just keep your ears open to those around you. Perhaps you can volunteer to fill a need that they have that might free them up, as well.
Maybe you think that this will not make a difference to those around you, but I can assure you that even the smallest amount of effort will not go unnoticed. It is becoming less common for people to do things as volunteers that it used to be. Because of this, it is often appreciated even more as people recognize that you did not have to give of your time & energy. The value is amplified & can make someone's day & benefit an entire community in simple, yet effective ways.