6 ways to volunteer in your community

JAN 08, 2019
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This is the month many of us show loved ones we care — often through food, flowers, and chocolates. Another gift option? Consider volunteering in your community.


Giving back is not only good for the people you help, but can also improve your own health. Research has shown that those who volunteer maintain physical mobility as they age and often experience less memory loss. Some studies have also found it may even help you live longer.


Here are a few volunteer ideas to try in your community.


1. Brighten a child’s day. For children battling cancer, countless days are spent in the hospital. So volunteer at a nearby hospital, where you can visit with sick children or prepare goody bags to help make their stay more comfortable.


2. Show support for seniors. Spend an afternoon chatting with a senior at a nursing home or hospice center. With so many of our interactions occurring online or through text messaging, having a face-to-face connection is especially meaningful — and could help those who are lonely or don’t have family nearby.


3. Bring much-needed love to a furry friend. Animal shelters are wonderful places to volunteer and can bring joy to you and the animals you work with. You can walk and help socialize animals — so they’ll be better prepared to find a forever home. You may even find a fur baby of your own to foster — or adopt.


4. Protect local parks. At organizations like Trees Atlanta, you can plant trees and even participate in restoration projects. Or sign up to volunteer through your city’s parks and recreation department. It’s a great way to help your city — and the environment.


5. Provide a good meal. Donate non-perishable goods, such as peanut butter, pasta sauce, and whole-wheat pasta to a food bank. Many food banks also offer on-site volunteer opportunities for groups and individuals, such as sorting items or even picking out groceries.


6. Donate blood. No matter the time of year, donating blood is an important activity. Make an event of it and go with a significant other or a group of friends. If you’re squeamish at the sight of a needle, you’ll have someone to hold your hand.


So while the flowers you give may wilt, and the chocolates will be long gone, volunteering can have a lasting impact on your community — and your health.


Note: Kaiser Permanente is a sponsor of Trees Atlanta.


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