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When looking for places to donate time and talent, many people look to the usual places: charitable organizations, houses of worship, or maybe even their children’s school. But there are many other places in the community that need volunteers—and some may be surprising. Consider these community pillars when you’re looking for a way to give back. In addition to yielding all of the benefits of volunteering, you’ll be helping your own community.


The breadth of duties volunteers carry out in hospitals is vast. Small, rural hospitals may depend on as many as 150 or more volunteers while larger hospitals may need more than 1,500, according to the American Hospital Association. Opportunities may range from working at the information desk to helping provide supplies and support to critical care personnel in the Emergency Room to planning fundraising events and galas. You may even put your talents to work playing music or performing for patients. There are many ways to support your community hospital. Contact your local hospital’s volunteer coordinator to find out about opportunities and select the best one for you.

Police Departments

Many police departments rely on volunteers to help them serve their communities. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, thousands of agencies across the country have opportunities for volunteers. While you likely won’t be riding along with officers, you may help with administrative duties or assist with search and rescue operations. If you have specialized skills or interests, you may also find opportunities as a sketch artist, drawing composite images of suspects; working with canine officers; or translating.

Your Municipality

The heart or your town or city also needs extra helping hands. One of the most basic ways to help is to attend municipal or city government meetings and stay informed. This is also a good introduction to the various committees that help govern where you live. Most of the members of these committees—which may range from zoning and land use to economic development and substance abuse prevention—are volunteers. There may even be an opportunity to start your own committee, such as a sustainability committee to help make your town greener, or a student exchange committee to facilitate visits from students from other countries.

Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes

While these facilities are often staffed with skilled professionals to help care for residents, volunteers are welcome to bring entertainment, activities, and social interaction. Depending on your skills and the facility’s requirements, there may be opportunities to teach classes, host arts and crafts sessions, or lead games.

These might not be the first places you think of when you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, but they each offer interesting, engaging ways to make a difference.

Discover more volunteer opportunities.

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