No-money ways to improve your community

Make use of your time, talent and energy for a better community. Willing hands and hearts can make a difference!

Volunteering

Can one person really make a difference? In communities all across the country they do! Even in the face of tough economic realities, people are getting out and involved in organizations that feed the hungry, bring relief to the lonely and make conditions better for the less fortunate. They’re working with schools for better education and with local governments to improve conditions in their own neighborhoods. It doesn’t cost anything but a little time to improve your own community!

Food banks

Your local food bank could use your help! Volunteers are always needed to help serve the patrons and help them make smart selections of pantry items to feed their families. You’ll meet and greet people to assist them in gathering the food supplies. Food banks need stockers, too. This volunteer helps process donations for distribution to needy families. If your time is too limited to serve at the food bank, consider adding a can or two of a nutritious food to your weekly shopping list — the food bank will welcome the donation and it helps them keep their shelves stocked to continue serving the community. Organize a food drive to benefit the food bank at your children’s school, your church or your workplace. Gather the donations — cash or non-perishable food items — and give them to the food bank. It’s a generous way to pay it forward and a reminder to be grateful for your own good fortune.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels serves shut-ins and the elderly in many communities. If your city has a Meals on Wheels program, they need people to deliver hot meals to their patrons. Often this is the only meal these individuals can count on in a day and the only social contact they have. Volunteer delivery people bring the meal and spend a few minutes chatting with the recipient. The conversation is as nourishing as the meal to these individuals: Imagine being housebound and alone and it’s easy to understand that Meals on Wheels provides the comfort of companionship along with a hot dinner.

School volunteer

Tight budgets have trimmed after-school programs and educational extras. If you have a talent — art, music, athletics — your time and skill can make an impact. Volunteer to supervise an after-school program or work with other parents on fund-raising ideas that will help your school add programs that enhance education in the district.

In late summer, gather your friends and neighbours for a school-supply and clothing drive. The donations can be given to an organization that provides needy children of school age with the basics they should have for the coming year.

Hospitals and nursing homes

Rocking babies in the hospital nursery or simply visiting patients with no nearby family — there are plenty of ways to invest a little time in a care facility. You don’t need a medical background to make an impact and understaffed hospitals and nursing homes will have various jobs that volunteers can fill. Just a few hours weekly or monthly from you will bring a big dose of comfort to the sick and lonely.

Safety and improvements

Look around you and notice where street lights, stop signs or crossing guards are needed and make it your mission to talk to the appropriate authorities about the situation. You can make your own neighbourhood a safer place by being the person who speaks up and takes action!

More tips for volunteering

Top 5 volunteer trip destinations
How (and why) to volunteer with your dog
Selecting volunteer projects for your child

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