Summertime is a time for relaxation, a time to take a break from working hard and to give yourself some TLC. But summer also opens a whole treasure trove of opportunities for extracurricular activities, one of them being summer volunteering.
There are a variety of programs and organizations that are open to volunteers of all age groups, so do your research, see what different opportunities have to offer, and take your pick.
During the summer, there is an array of beaches, parks, and other public areas that are looking for volunteers when they host special events like on the fourth of July. Try visiting your local park or beach to see what they have. You can also look up your local national park at nps.gov and see what they offer in terms of volunteer work, which includes cleaning up, hosting campgrounds, or distributing information for campers.
Another cool option is volunteering at museums, which are sure to see an influx of visitors with break starting and will be looking for helping hands. Some will want help with information desks, public tours, educating guests, while others offer more behind-the-scenes work like helping organize special events. Whatever you do, you’ll be getting a dose of culture while being able to stay inside during the hot summer months.
There are also plenty of year-round volunteer organizations dedicated to helping the homeless and hungry. The Ronald McDonald House charity is always looking for young volunteers, as is Camillus House. In South Florida, there is Feeding South Florida, which gives students the opportunity to volunteer at food banks.
If you want to work with animals, try a local animal shelter like the Humane Society or any other type of Animal Services and Pet Adoptions. Petfinder.com has a search engine that helps find animal shelters near you that need help with cleaning up and caring for animals, as well as distributing information. It’s a great option for animal lovers and anyone who isn’t allowed to have a pet at home.
If what you want is to gain experience in something you’d be interested in doing in the future, there are always specialized organizations. Art Studio Inc. focuses on making art a tool of empowerment and gives student artists chances to be mentors.
Some organizations revolve around a particular belief, whether it’s political or social. Volunteer with your local political party’s chapter and speak to voters, reach out to other students, and use social media to connect with others digitally. With upcoming elections, it’s bound to be busy. You can also see if there are any social activist groups you can volunteer at like GLAAD, a pro-LGBT organization.
In this day and age, there are also plenty of online volunteer sites you can check out. Do Something is an organization dedicated to getting young teens and adults involved in helping the community by spreading information and donating supplies. There are also websites like volunteermatch.org that can help you find specific kinds of volunteer work based on keywords.
The summer can be both pleasant and productive, with volunteering being the perfect way to not only help the community, but also yourself. You’ll be spending your summer free time in a fun and philanthropic way. With so many places looking for volunteers, just keep your eyes and mind open for any summer volunteer opportunities.
By Nathalie Mairena