When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, volunteering is a popular option. And that makes sense. In addition to the benefits you deliver to people and worthy causes, there is considerable research that volunteering can also be good for physical and mental health. If you’re planning on giving back in the new year, here are some month-by-month ways to get started.
January: During the winter months, the nation’s blood supply tends to run low. January is National Blood Donor Month, and a great time to give blood or organize a blood drive in your community. One blood donation can save up to three lives, according to the Red Cross.
And, of course, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is the third Monday in January, so look for opportunities to give back to honor one of the country’s great civil rights leaders.
February: Black History Month is a good time to devote some of your efforts to equity and equality for all. Head to your local library and learn about Black leaders and history by checking out some books or find a local program and plan to attend. The second month of year is also best known for Valentine’s Day and showing people love. Share that love with your community, too, ranging from volunteering with shelters to creating groups to combat isolation and loneliness.
March: During Women’s History Month, volunteer to help women, girls, and nonbinary people. Women are often underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. A number of nonprofit organizations like Black Girls Code, National Girls Collaborative Project, and Trans Tech Social Enterprises are working hard to change the ratio through education and opportunities.
April: Earth Day offers an opportunity to think about how to protect our planet and conserve natural resources. Start implementing these simple ways to do so. Or get a little crafty and find creative ways to recycle and upcycle for good. You can also find ideas and resources on the official website.
May: The last full month of spring is filled with military observances, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day, among others. Use this month to help honor and support veterans and military families for their service. Memorial Day is also an opportunity to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
June: As the weather warms, it’s a great time to start getting outside and volunteering outdoors. Whether you want to track wildlife to help scientists or are more drawn to sprucing up the local soccer fields and parks, here are some ideas to get you started.
Or maybe you’re spending more time indoors cleaning and decluttering. Don’t forget to put aside gently used items for donation. The clothing, coats, and household items you no longer use or need could help someone else. And you may be surprised at the items that can be donated.
July: Think about making your August volunteering strictly business. Clear out your closet and donate gently used work clothes to organizations like Dress for Success or Jail to Jobs that give people clothing for interviews. If you’re good with résumés, volunteer to help someone create or update their own or conduct a mock interview or two to help them prepare for their job search. Or be a small business champion and help support local businesses. Need to bolster your own job skills? You can do that through volunteering, too.
August: The last week in August is World Water Week, celebrating our most essential resource—and a perfect opportunity to make a difference in the clean water movement. Get involved with organizations that are working for cleaner water. Or organize your own cleanup in your community.
September: As students head back to school, look for opportunities to set them up for success. From organizing a school supply drive to volunteering to speak about your expertise to students or join the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), your local school can use your help in many ways. Looking for other ways to help? Devote some time to combatting bullying or helping out coaching local youth sports teams or other efforts.
October: Spooky season can be a fun time to let your imagination run wild and try something new in your volunteering efforts. Organize a local hayride or haunt as a fundraiser for your favorite charity. Or explore graveyards to help preserve history. It’s also a good time to help people prepare for the coming colder weather and also work to make your community more livable.
November: During this season of feasting and celebration, we may find ourselves thinking about those who are struggling with the holidays. Helping others is another way to express gratitude. You might involve your family and friends in organizing a drive for your local food bank, food pantry, or homeless shelter. Or volunteer to serve meals on or around Thanksgiving. (But remember that they need help all year ‘round, too.)
December: The end of the year can be hectic, but there are still plenty of ways to get some good works in before December 31. Help out a neighbor. Give a caregiver some respite. Or just practice some acts of kindness and bring some warmth into others’ lives.
Looking for even more ideas? Visit www.createthegood.org and search for volunteer opportunities that match your interests.
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