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giving-back-ideas-for-volunteeringIf you can't donate money, why not donate your time?

My husband and I don’t have kids yet, thank you for asking. We’re both in our mid-20s, we are enjoying our life together and simply do not feel ready. If a baby happened we’d be over the moon, but let’s just say we’re not monitoring body temperatures and calendar charts just yet.

Our 9-to-5's and our kidless life provide us with something not a lot of parents have: Free time. While we don't have the financial resources to give a lot of donations, we've decided to use that free time as our donation to our community in the form of volunteering.

From the smallest to the busiest community, volunteers are always needed and always valuable. Why not put yourself in the mix? Here are some great places that could always use more hands and hearts.

Ways You Can Volunteer

1. The Children’s Hospital

My local children’s hospital has an incredible program for volunteers of all stripes. From admin workers and daycare babysitters to people who simply visit sick children and their families during this scary time can provide great relief for families and organizations. If you’d like to volunteer at the hospital, be aware that there may be some stringent requirements. You may have to get some immunizations as well as a bi-annual TB test. You may also have to give a pretty generous time commitment. But in the eyes of every parent that has the misfortune of walking through those doors, it’ll be worth it.

2. The Homeless Shelter

Local homeless shelters are truly the glue that holds communities together, though they often go unrecognized. This is the place where your most vulnerable neighbors can go for safety and security. We have an incredible local homeless shelter here in Phoenix that caters to families, veterans, single adults and everyone in between. Because of their diverse population, there are literally hundreds of volunteer opportunities. You can work in the cafeteria and serve dinner, spend one night a week at a reading club with the young kids or help tutor the high school kids.  If you have professional experience, you can even teach a class on resume writing or succeeding in a job interview. These shelters are incredibly needed and incredibly meaningful. Why not be a part of that?

3. The Animal Shelter

Next to children and the elderly, neglected animals are often some of the most vulnerable among us. Almost every community has an animal shelter or a pound. You might not be able to adopt every single one, but why not take some of these furry friends for a walk every now and then? Or help get the word out about adoptable buddies that some of your friends may be interested in? You could be a live-saver to these little ones.

4. Visiting Shut-Ins

I went to college in a beautiful, rural town in southeast Ohio. Outside of campus, it was an extraordinarily poor area. Our local homeless shelter offered a great program for volunteers to visit shut-ins around the area. A shut-in means someone with a disability or other ailment is preventing them from leaving their homes. My then boyfriend and I would visit some of them once a week. It was incredibly life-giving, both for us and them. There could be an organization already like this in your area, but even if there isn’t, why not start one?

There are countless other opportunities to volunteer like your local recycling plant, writing letters to prison inmates, making food for a sick neighbor, etc. The important thing is that if you have the time, you get out there! After all, we’re in this “life” thing together, right?

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