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How to get involved and volunteer in your community this winter

Now that classes are coming to an end, you might be wondering what you can start doing to pass the time and help out in your community. Whether you are prepping for college apps or looking for a new way to get involved, volunteering is one of the most important things anyone can do in their life. Community service teaches leadership and working skills, as well as gives you a chance to give back. If you're confused about where to start and what opportunities are there for you, we've got you covered.

Where should I volunteer?

If you're a total newbie to community service, there is no reason to stress! Getting involved in your community is super simple, and there are more opportunities around you than you think.

Disclaimer: This is a great opportunity to consider for the future. Due to COVID-19, this may not be the safest option for you and we advise you to consider your community's health and safety guidelines before volunteering. 

Food Drive

Volunteering at a food drive is one of the most fun and humbling experiences out there! A majority of small towns and cities have food drives that offer free food to low-income families. As a volunteer, you will do all sorts of things from packaging food, donating and delivering food to people. Food drives are *always* looking for more help, so this is a great place to start.

The Library

Libraries are pretty much everywhere, which is why this is a super accessible opportunity for most people, no matter where you live. Libraries are typically searching for volunteers to help with any tasks around the building, whether that be helping people use computers, finding books or even tutoring kids. The best part about volunteering at a library is that you have the freedom to be creative. Try hosting an event there, or offer readings to kids after school. TBH, you can have a blast at the library.

Animal Shelter

Have a soft spot in your heart for animals? Possibly interested in being a veterinarian? Then the animal shelter is the place for you! You can get some valuable experience working with animals, helping with rescues, finding homes and even advertising. Shelters heavily rely on volunteers so it won't take long to get started. The best part? You can help abused and abandoned animals find a loving home.

Hospital

If you have your sights set on working in the medical field (or you just have a hankering to help people) then you *def* need to volunteer at a hospital. Hospital volunteers are admired in the community because you are taking the time to help healthcare workers in assisting their patients. Your responsibilities could vary a lot, from shadowing a doctor to providing emotional support to patients. Either way, it's super rewarding.

What are the virtual options?

The coronavirus pandemic has taken so many opportunities away from us, but that doesn't mean we can't help our community. Lucky for you, there are *tons* of virtual volunteer opportunities to participate in that can offer you similar work but from the safety of your own home. 

Tutor students

A lot of us are struggling with adjusting to school being online. Due to this, there is a huge demand for tutors to help young kids and teens with schoolwork. If you are strong in specific subjects, offer your expertise to help some kids in need! You can start offering tutoring sessions through friends and family or find other online organizations that you can work through.

Fundraising

Fundraising is one of the most important parts of many organizations, but you can also do it for your own independent cause. If you know of a charity that you are passionate about donating to, host some virtual events and start a gofundme to earn some cash for donations. If you feel a little stressed about where to donate, simply contact organizations you are interested in and ask if they need volunteers for fundraising. That way, you can help their business as well.

Internships

Believe it or not, internships can actually be considered valid volunteer experience. For most students who are not in college, unpaid internships are the only route available anyway. By interning, you can dedicate time to a field that you are incredibly interested in and gain hands-on experience. This not only benefits you but the company you work for! If you need a hand on searching for internships, try Chegg Internships to search for opportunities in your field of interest.

(P.S. If you want to intern and have a chance to be involved with Girls' Life, you can apply for our internships, too!)

How do I reach out?

Pretty much all non-profits (and tons of businesses) are open to volunteers. If you want to volunteer, it all starts with just reaching out!

Go to their website and find the contact info. You can contact them through phone or email or, if they are in your local community, meet in-person, and talk about volunteering for them.

When it comes to virtual volunteering, start sending in applications. If a company isn't currently posting applications, email them about your interest. Most people are always ready to give work to some volunteers, so there's no reason to stress.

We get it. Trying to find new ways to get involved and make an impact on your community can seem *super* stressful, and it can feel overwhelming when you first start. In reality, it is such an easy process, and it will be *so* worth your time. 

Show us how *you* have helped your community this season and tag @girlslifemag on social media!

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by Eres Croker | 12/16/2020
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