Community Opportunities

Here are some suggestions to get you started:


Animal Shelters

Many animal shelters are non-profit or government organizations, and therefore they welcome volunteers to help take care of animals, keep facilities clean and work with the public. Call a local animal shelter for more information. Here is one site local to Northern Virginia. The Humane Society of Loudoun County, Virginia

Assisting a Convalescent

Mowing the yard, washing the car or doing the dishes are a few ways we can help out. This is a great way for an energetic teenager to experience the joy of helping someone else.

City Programs

Most large cities offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities. Look in the phone book and call around to see what might be available where you live. [Do not be discouraged if your first few calls seem to hit a brick wall. Many city governments are large and fairly disorganized. Keep calling around until you find someone who understands what you are talking about and who is willing to help.]

Environmental Organizations

The Sierra Club (and numerous other environmental groups) encourages volunteer support to help with environmental activities. You can help in many ways: by helping lobby on conservation issues, by leading hikes and other activities, or by lending a hand at the Chapter Office. Contact the local office of an environmental organization near you. See also the Earth Day site .

Food Banks

Food banks often work with homeless shelters, but they also serve poor people living in the community (especially around the holidays). Food banks collect food, manage their inventory and distribute food to those in need. The following link shows you the different volunteer opportunities available at food banks around the country:Central Virginia Food Bank Any food bank will offer similar opportunities in your area. Look in the phone book for a local food bank if you are interested.

Helping Others Learn to Read

When you think about it, reading is one of the most important skills an adult can have. Many adults, however, have never learned how to read. Literacy volunteers act as tutors who help illiterate children and adults learn this important skill. There is probably a literacy program in your area. See also Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) .

Homeless Shelters

If you live in a city of any size, then there is at least one homeless shelter that helps homeless people with meals, beds and other services. Most homeless shelters welcome volunteers and have a variety of programs through which you can get involved. You might help prepare or distribute meals, work behind the scenes in the business office, help organize a food drive to stock the pantry, etc. You can learn more about the problem of homelessness and ways you can help by looking at this site . Look in the phone book for a local homeless shelter if you are interested.


You can be a candy striper, or if you're an artsy/crafty kind of person, make some homemade get-well cards for the patients who may not have family or friends to visit them. The children's unit is a great place to start. And don't forget the geriatric unit as well. Hand-picked flowers from your own garden are a great way to make someone feel special.


Many libraries need help reshelving books, running children's programs, making books available to the community, and so on. Contact a local library for volunteer opportunities in your area.

Local Hospice

Hospice patients are oftentimes home-bound and are unable to do errands for themselves. Trips to the bank, post office or grocery store can be life savers. You may also offer respite to the round-the-clock caregivers and give them an opportunity to catch up on their own errands. You may also read to a hospice patient or provide occasional companionship.

Nursing Home

Some of the residents simply don't have family to visit them. And although most nursing homes provide some spiritual services, some residents want a little more. Most are unable to attend church out in the community like they did before and appreciate the company. Entire families can schedule a visit, and all members have something to contribute, whether it be hand-made cards drawn by a child or a hymn sung by a grandmother.

Senior Citizens Centers

Many senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship and community activities to senior citizens. If you would like working with senior citizens, call a senior citizen center in your neighborhood and see what kinds of volunteer programs they have available.

State Parks

Many state parks offer volunteer programs, and in these programs you can try anything from educational programs to trail construction and maintenance. This site for the North Carolina State Park System shows some of the possibilities available. Contact a state park near you and see what options are available if you are interested.