"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids

Make a Difference - Volunteer!

"Since the earliest days of the Republic, Americans have embraced the virtues of hard work, charity, and community service, and each generation of Americans has recognized its responsibility to pass these values on to the next generation." ~U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige

"I hope each of you will help build this culture of service, for three important reasons: service is important to your neighbors; service is important to your character; and service is important to your country…. some needs government cannot fulfill: the need for kindness, and for understanding, and for love. A person in crisis often needs more than a program or a check; he needs a friend—and that friend can be you." ~George W. Bush, 2002 speech at Ohio State University

While government programs cannot fulfill the need for kindness, understanding, and love in our communities, millions of unselfish acts of kindness and decency can change America one heart at a time. The terms "volunteerism" and "community service" both refer to the practice of serving others without compensation or other external obligations to do so. They are acts of charity, marked by a concern for others. In this way, volunteering strengthens local communities while contributing to the betterment of society as a whole.

Why Volunteer?

The Bible clearly establishes that serving others ultimately translates to serving God. And research shows that volunteering not only helps others—it actually improves the emotional and physical well being of the volunteers! People who have spent time volunteering report that they receive much more satisfaction and joy out of the experience than they ever expend in inconvenience or effort. By gathering clothes, toys, or food for the needy, even young children can gain a sense of helping others that will go a long way toward making them feel good about themselves.

Families that volunteer together also benefit because volunteering teaches values like kindness, empathy, and respect while breaking down generational gaps, social barriers, and other forms of misunderstanding. Volunteering improves family communication and is a good way to spend quality time together. People who volunteer as children are more likely to grow up to become dedicated volunteers in the future.

Beyond these more lofty benefits, volunteering can be a great way to meet people and develop friendships as well as a means of putting one’s own problems into perspective. It is something that everyone from students to retirees can do in their spare time. Volunteer work may be used to learn skills and gain experience to put on a resume. Finally, volunteering often provides networking opportunities and is a means to create new contacts that may help in your business or career.

Volunteering is fun — and it changes the lives of all those involved. Everyone can do something, no matter how small – and that includes you!

What Can You Do to Help? Here are some ideas!

1. Participate in food and clothing drives for the poor.
2. Hold a community clean-up day.
3. Go Christmas caroling at a children's hospital or nursing home.
4. Collect school supplies for needy students.
5. Visit residents at an assisted living facility, children's orphanage, or hospice.
6. Adopt a trail with the Forest Service.
7. Hold a holiday toy drive for children in low-income families.
8. Collect blankets and clothing for the homeless.
9. Provide yard maintenance/housecleaning services for elderly or disabled neighbors.
10. Launch a mentoring or tutoring program at a nearby school.
11. Take pets to visit nursing home residents or terminally ill children.
12. Adopt a family at Christmas (provide toys, clothes, and practical gifts).
13. Hold a car wash to raise money for a cause you care about.
14. Volunteer at an animal shelter, food bank, soup kitchen, etc.
15. Collect leftover restaurant/cafeteria food for a local homeless shelter.
16. Deliver meals to seniors or homebound persons.
17. Organize a neighborhood block watch.
18. Deliver handmade cards to nursing homes during the holidays.
19. Participate in a Christmas Angel, Angel Tree, or similar program.
20. Start a flower or tree-planting project in a park or on roadsides in your neighborhood.
21. Adopt a charity and raise money for it. (Call the local BBB for info on local charities.)
22. Take Christmas gifts to a nursing home or children's hospital.
23. Buy a new toy and donate it to the holiday “Toys for Tots” campaign.
24. Have a scavenger hunt to collect food for the needy.
25. Help families in need by having a "pounding" (an 1800's tradition in which everyone brings a pound of flour, sugar, beans, rice, etc.)
26. Send "thinking of you" cards to a homebound sick child or elderly person.
27. Match children up with "adopted" grandparents they can spend time with.
28. Record books on tapes for the blind.
29. Teach someone to read.
30. Start a community service club or Good Deed Club.
31. Assist an elderly neighbor.
32. Help out at a local child care center.
33. Collect canned food and/or clothing for the poor.
34. Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
35. Set up a recycling program in your neighborhood or school.
36. Make a list of community needs to share with local schools.
37. Organize a volunteer challenge for the clubs at your local school.
38. Get local civic/corporate groups to sponsor a community improvement project.
39. Organize a volunteer fair at which the community can get to know local charitable organizations and learn how their volunteer efforts make a difference.
40. Volunteer at your house of worship or a faith-based organization.
41. Offer volunteer support to local fire, police, and health departments.
42. Visit a homebound elder or someone else who might be living in isolation.
43. Take a First Aid/CPR course. (If you are already trained, organize a course at your workplace, church, or community center to teach others these life saving skills.)
44. Donate blood.
45. Volunteer at a local community center, school, or nonprofit organization.
46. Utilize your Internet home page as a ministry to promote messages of unity and faith.
47. Learn sign language, so you can communicate with hearing impaired children.
48. If your family knows someone who is physically or mentally challenged, try to include him or her in some of your activities.
49. Visit hospitals with smiles, treats and friendly conversation for patients.
50. Bring a small tame animal to a nursing home for the residents to pet.
51. Plant wildflowers along the roadside.
52. Cut down some weeds or trim some trees in your neighborhood.
53. Visit a retirement or nursing home and spend the afternoon talking with the residents.
54. Call an elderly or homebound neighbor and have a pleasant conversation with them.
55. Drop off a plant, flowers, or homemade baked goods at a bedridden neighbor’s house.
56. Offer to prepare meals, do housework, or run errands for a new mom.
57. Volunteer at your local library.
58. Give a young mother some relaxing time alone by watching her kids for a couple of hours.
59. Host a neighborhood get-together for everyone to meet and get to know one another.
60. Bake a batch of cookies and give them to someone who needs cheering up.

Can you think of any other ways in which you could volunteer at your church, school, or within your community? Be sure to consider your interests and choose a cause that is personally important to you, so that you will be able to enjoy your work, feel that your valuable time is being used wisely, and have a sense that you are contributing something of worth to the world.

Annual Volunteer Opportunities

Make a Difference Day – October - the largest national day of helping others, held every year on the 4th Saturday of October. It is sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation.
National Kids Care Week – October (concludes on Make a Difference Day) – recognizing the power of kids to reach out and help others, as kids show they care by doing charitable works in their community.
World Kindness Day – November - dedicated to building a kinder and more compassionate world.
National Family Volunteer Day - November - families all across America work together to strengthen their families, communities, and non-profit organizations through volunteer service.
Random Acts of Kindness Week– February – a grassroots movement for performing random acts of kindness to show how easy it is to affect a person's life in a positive way, and encourage others to do the same.
National Youth Service Day – April - empowering young people, highlighting their ongoing contributions to their communities, and mobilizing their energy, commitment, and idealism.
National Volunteer Week - April – celebrating the American spirit by recognizing the efforts of volunteers at the local, state and national levels.

Of course, helping people does not have to be limited to certain days. People do good deeds and perform random acts of kindness every day. Adults and kids alike are working all year round at helping others, caring for the environment, and making their communities better places to live. Have you done your good deed for the day?


www.usaweekend.com/diffday (Learn about Make a Difference Day and how to get involved, find a project, look at project planning guides (for students, teachers, families, employers, and more), an idea generator, and examples of what others have done.)

www.pointsoflight.org (Find out how individuals, families, and corporations can get involved in volunteer community service.)

www.usa.pointsoflight.org/kids.jsp (Show Your Character: A “How-to” Guide for Young Volunteers.)

www.networkforgood.org/volunteer (Learn more about America's tradition of volunteering, get started with 10 tips on volunteering wisely, read personal stories from people who volunteer, find volunteer opportunities, and link to the Youth Volunteer Network for teens.)

www.youthnoise.com (On this website for teens, click on “Take Action” for a Lend-a-Hand Toolkit and ways in which you can be part of the solution.)

www.kidscare.org (A national service club for schools and youth groups that introduces kids to philanthropic action.)

www.familycares.org (Their mission is to promote compassion and the spirit of charity in children through hands-on family projects that help others in need.)

www.give.org (This Better Business Bureau site has advice on giving to charities and lists hundreds of national charitable organizations.)

http://familyeducation.com (In the Search box, type in "volunteering" and click on Go to get ten great volunteer ideas, tips, and related topics.)

www.volunteerphoenix.org (Informative site for aspiring volunteers of all ages and backgrounds in Maricopa County; mobilizing families, youth and businesses in volunteerism through a personalized online referral process. They also sponsor a Youth Volunteer Advisory Board for high school students and the Youth Volunteer Corps for ages 11-18.)


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
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