How to volunteer without ever leaving your living room (or writing a check)
During the holiday season, we often think about acts of kindness and find ways to give back.
A study by the National Service Agency finds that one in four Americans volunteer and two-thirds help their neighbors. Many more would surely like to, but often feel they're too short on time or lack the childcare to do so. Here are some ways you can volunteer from the comfort of your own home over the holidays and throughout the year.
Help the military
Treats 4 Our Troops collects used magazines and surplus holiday candy to support the troops and wounded solders. You can find guidelines and information about how to collect, package and send care packages here.
Boot Campaign supports the military and their families. You can support them by joining a "Pushups for Charity" event or by holding your own. Challenge your friends, family and coworkers to do as many push-ups as possible in 90 seconds.
Offer crisis support
Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteer crisis counselors. Using their web-based platform, you can provide support via text to people who are facing a wide range of issues such as bullying, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and more.
Project Toe is an app you can download to your iPhone or Android that connects you with someone looking for support. You can share your own personal story of encouragement and chat one-on-one with someone looking for support.
Become a listener for 7 Cups of Tea, an online resource that helps people who are having trouble coping. Volunteers are offered training on active listening techniques.
Make something for a good cause
If you are crafty, here are several opportunities to use your talents for the greater good.
Make a handmade blanket for Project Linus benefitting seriously ill and traumatized children, ages 0 to 18.
Make quilts and layette sets for babies (jackets, sweaters, gowns and sunbonnets) for children living in poor, rural areas around the globe through Lutheran World Relief.
Wipe out hunger
Find a virtual volunteer opportunity at Hunger Volunteer Connection by selecting "virtual" in the "narrow your choices" section of the search page. Volunteer opportunities include helping to write a grant or helping seniors order groceries online.
Help those in prison
Become a pen pal to someone in prison using a "pen" name through Evangel Prison Ministries. Letters are sent through a secure P.O. box so that you remain anonymous.
Help the animals
Raise resources for more than 2,000 different animal welfare organizations with ResQwalk, an app that records miles walked and translates them into funds for products for a variety of animal welfare organizations.
Help kids learn to read out loud by volunteering with Bam Boomerang. You will listen to children read and provide feedback.
Support 13 to 25-year-olds via text through DoSomething.org, an organization that works with young people to create positive social change. Campaigns have focused on recycling cans and donating food as well as influencing social change related to transgender and race issues. Volunteers must commit about 10 hours per month to participate.
Help underprivileged and disabled children in the Philippines and Ukraine through Maya's Hope by translating documents and letters as well as making phone calls to contacts within those countries.
Mentor at-risk middle and high school students through icouldbe.org, an online community that empowers teens to stay in school and plan for their future.
Volunteer with your kids
Bake cookies from different cultures at home and then deliver them to a local nursing home or community center, or an elderly neighbor through Kids Cook to Care.
GenerationOn, the youth service division of Points of Light, offers a number of hands-on service projects throughout the holiday season, including creating holiday cards for children in hospitals, preparing shoeboxes filled with age-appropriate gifts for needy children and making holiday treat bags for dogs without homes.