Beliefnet member suggestions for fun and innovative summer volunteering projects.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Take part in a Big Brother-Big Sister program.
2. Volunteer at a nursing home. Some people have NO family or friends visit them and they just want someone to LISTEN to them.
3. Volunteer at a hospital.
4. Bisit a veterans home.
5. Raise a puppy to be trained to aid the blind. Here in Connecticut it is the Fedelco society. They raise German Shepherds to help blind people.
Two great summer needs for us: non-perishable food. Many schools and businesses that hold food drives are on vacation for the summer. Our food needs go up because children aren't receiving school lunch and breakfast. Hold a food drive in your neighborhood.
Second are volunteers to read to children waiting in the food line with their parents. Our volunteers bring a blanket and invite the children to join them (in their parents view) and read. This works great when the volunteer is able to give the books way to the children at the end...many have no books at home or parents who cannot read, or read English.
Here's one a little out of the ordinary--find out if your community fire department and emergency medical service (emergency squad) is volunteer or fulltime. If it's volunteer, guaranteed they can use you, even if it's just helping with run records on the computer or helping keep the station and trucks in good shape. You may find a career out of it, as I did, or you may just have some fun with a great bunch of people doing a largely thankless job.
No matter what religion or beliefs--volunteer for your local park and rec! It's a great summer activity. My best friend and I clean parks, and you can volunteer with children, too (like teaching vacation bible school...what a great time!). You get to know little kids, and you are truly recieving while at the same time giving all ofyourself and you help the environment.
Maybe you can volunteer at a local shelter to help feed the homeless or poor. You can also volunteer to shop for or just plain visit an elderly person. Ask your local hospital if there is anything there that you can do. Get involved in a pet cause of yours, maybe the environment or helping animals. Investigate helping an illiterate learn to read, or a foriegner to speak English. Whatever you do, make it something in which you are interested. Be warned! Helping others is addictive!!
Habitat for Humanity. If you have a couple of extra weeks, and you don't mind some hard work, it's the best volunteer gig going. They build homes for the homeless and they need builders.
Habitat volunteers come from all over the country and go to the site of a new home under construction. You may get to pour the foundation, erect the frame, or put on a roof. The homeless who will be getting the house will work alongside you.
I've worked as a Youth Volunteer at a local hospital for the past few years. Maybe try working in one that also operates a Nursing home. That way you can do twice as much good without stretching yourself too thin. In fact, many hospitals have such programs. For instance, you may assist in the ER and on your breaks go visit a lonely senior for a chat, game, puzzle, etc. It's very fulfilling to know that you can help so many different people.
Perhaps you could look around your own neighborhood, maybe there are elderly people who need their lawns mowed, or errands run, or maybe a mom with kids who could use a couple of hours to herself.