In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, 63.4 million Americans volunteered in a variety of organizations; 35.6 percent volunteered at a religious organization, 26.6 percent at a school, 13.8 percent for social services, 8.3 percent for health services, and 5.4 percent volunteered for civic services. Volunteering is part of the fabric of U.S. society, and for every interest or cause you may have there is a place that could use your help.
Every religious sect has charitable works and volunteer projects that you can participate in. A few examples of volunteer opportunities that are common across religious organizations are volunteering in the youth ministry, mission work, in the soup kitchen, on the church or synagogue festival board, for church or temple dinners, as religious education teachers, Eucharistic ministers in Christian churches, lectors or cantors, and as support group staff. The best way to find out which options are available in your religious organization is to call the organization's main office.
Schools offer a variety of opportunities for community service work. The Parent Teacher Association is one option, or serving as a teacher's aide or cafeteria volunteer. Some schools have additional options such as parent chaperones for field trips, assisting with fundraising or helping with student plays and performances. The best way to get involved is to call your local school and find out what they need.
Local hospitals and clinics regularly take volunteers to perform a variety of functions. Hospitals always take volunteers for the information desk, candy-stripers to help with small tasks such as stocking and cleaning, volunteers to visit with and read to the children, to deliver flowers and gifts and to help nurses and physicians with other non-medical tasks. Clinics often need volunteers to help with blood donation, health screening days, or filing and clerical work. Hospitals and clinics usually require an application and a background check for liability purposes before a volunteer can be employed.
Communities always need volunteers, and a wide variety of options are available in most communities. Adopt a highway, adopt a park or adopt a trail programs are popular ways to volunteer. Community beaches need assistance with trash pickup and debris removal. Community food banks, soup kitchens or meals for the elderly also need help. Homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters take volunteers. To get involved, call the local chapter of the organization for which you would like to volunteer.
Humane societies and animal shelters are good options for those interested in volunteering to help animals. For the politically minded, polling stations need volunteers to help verify ID's and give instructions for using the voting booths, as well as for counting ballots in some locations, and political party offices need assistance soliciting donations and stuffing envelopes. Neighborhoods often have community watch councils or homeowners associations to help keep communities safe and well maintained.
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