Helping Hands

As we enter into the holiday season, many people get into the spirit of helping others even more than usual. If joining in a community service effort sounds like something you’d like to do but just not sure where or how, here are a few ideas to get you on track:

Food Banks or Soup Kitchens – There are a large number of food banks and soup kitchens in Delaware that are always in need of help. The best way to find out what needs they have, running events, item collection, serving food etc… is to contact those you are interested in volunteering with and see what you can do to help. This website has compiled a list of some throughout Delaware and would be a good place to start your search.

Animal Shelter or Rescue – Contact local animal shelters, often times there are many ways that you can help serve animals in need besides just adopting them. Some examples that I have seen are:

  • Donating items – pillows, blankets, leashes and food are just a few needed items
  • Fostering animals
  • Helping at adoption events
  • Walk Dogs or Play with Cats
  • Pet Transportation
  • Financial Donations
  • And much more.

This website has some good advice to consider before you sign up for volunteering at a shelter. The best place to start is to locate a shelter near you that sounds like a good fit and inquire about their specific needs and requirements.

Neighborhood Projects – Getting together with neighbors and organizing a clean-up effort or other neighborhood project is another wonderful way to help your community.  Here are suggestions for ways you can serve those that live closest to you:

  • Locate a legal place to safely set up a little free library. This website has just about everything you need to know to start one of your own.
  • Create a neighborhood garden where people can get together and grow veggies or plant flowers as a community. * Take part in the Sawgrass Community Residents Adopt-a-Highway Program when the weather warms up.
  • Have a group meet-up. Volunteering to teach others a skill can be very beneficial. Interested participants can come together and learn to paint, use a computer program, play an instrument, learn to sew or any other skill you might have to offer. Also, it’s a great opportunity to make some friends with similar interests.
  • Good at sports? Offer to coach a youth team that might need assistance.

Virtual Volunteering – If you would love to help but getting out somewhere to volunteer is hard for you, there are still options aside from just donating money. This website helps potential volunteers find opportunities near them and that includes virtual volunteering! There are many ways we can still help our community from the comfort of our own homes. These opportunities include such things as translating, web development, writing, marketing, social media, blogging, fundraising and much more. Not finding a cause that suits your interests? You might discover that some of these skills could be useful at just about any charity. Take a few moments to give them a call and see if they have any virtual opportunities available.

Community Collections – A pretty well known option for community service is collecting of items. These are pretty easy to set up, pick a cause and an organization and run a collection within the community. You can spread the word with flyers, posting on e-mail listservs, mentioning it on social media platforms or even host a party if you wanted to get more elaborate. Wondering what to collect? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • School supplies – always a great choice for July/August before school starts.
  • Homeless Care Packages – Warm clothing, personal care and food are always needed.
  • Books – There are many kids, schools or even some libraries in need of books of all types.
  • Food drive – non perishable items. Don’t forget, this can be any time of year. Many times the warmer summer months often get forgotten, and these are the months children don’t get lunches at school.
  • Toys for Tots –Organize a toy drive in your community and take the toys you’ve collected to the established location of your choice by their deadline.

Assist the Elderly – Helping the elderly members of the community throughout the year is a wonderful service project. Here are some ideas that may be appreciated:

  • Yard work – Shoveling Sidewalks, raking leaves, mowing lawns and trimming bushes and trees.
  • Food – Bring them frozen meals that they can just take out and heat up, help with grocery shopping or putting away items that have been delivered, go grocery shopping, offer to take them out for a nice dinner and keep them company.
  • Additional Help – Assist with minor repairs like fixing a leaky faucet or re-sealing a deck, take out their trash, clean their cars, walk their dog or just spend some quality time talking or playing a game.
  • Check with a local retirement facility and see if they have any specific needs. A lot of times, there are residents that would just enjoy company because they may not have family nearby.

Volunteer at Local Events – Many times there are local events going on that might need a few extra hands. It might be beneficial to check in with local schools, churches and community centers to see if they have anything coming up. Additionally, take a look in your newspaper or online for events coming up such as charity drives or 5K runs etc… they may need extra help as well.

Mentoring – Have a business of your own? Help out the others in your community by offering mentoring or internships. This is a great avenue for college students or even adults looking to make a career change or start their own businesses.

There are so many ways that we can help make a difference right in our own communities either by donating, interacting or just helping out. Once you find that perfect fit for you, you’re bound to enjoy giving even more.