9 Places for Community Service Volunteer Opportunities

If you find yourself with a lot of extra time on the weekends and want to put it towards a good cause, consider putting in some community service. Becoming a volunteer can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Volunteering is a great way to donate your time, perhaps learn new skills, and help an organization you believe in further its mission.

If you're short on funds but still want to give back, many charitable organizations would welcome your time if you cannot donate money. What's very challenging for a lot of organizations is managing the rush and periods of high demand, whenever they may be, and having a few extra hands pitching in periodically is very important.

For example, if there's a short-term crisis and your local food bank needs help – your time organizing and cataloging donations can be valuable. They may not have the finances to hire someone and most folks aren't looking for short-term work, so volunteering could be extremely valuable to them.

But one of the challenges is finding an organization whose mission matches what you believe.

Hopefully today we can help give you some ideas of the types of groups out there that can use your service:

Animal Rescue & Shelters

Adorable dogWhether you sign on as a foster, kennel cleaner, or dog walker, this volunteer opportunity is purrrrrrfect for animal lovers.

Who it's right for

If you have a love for animals, you'll love volunteering at the animal shelter!

But if you can't resist taking every shelter pet home with you, you might want to volunteer elsewhere. I'm speaking from experience because that's how I ended up with my cat, Zap.

Typical duties

Your duties will depend on your role at the shelter. Most shelters ask their volunteers to commit to four hours a month or regular shifts.

Duties may include:

  • Bottle feeding
  • Walking dogs
  • Cleaning kennels
  • Socializing the animals
  • Administrative tasks

How to volunteer near you

Reach out to your local animal shelter near you to see if they accept volunteers. They typically have a volunteer orientation as well as additional training for dog handling and bottle feeding. Petfinder has a good search tool for finding animal welfare groups, you can use it to find those volunteering opportunities with a local shelter.

Habitat for Humanity

Housing prices are increasing. As a result, many people can no longer afford homeownership. This leads to homelessness and instability in your community.

Habitat for Humanity aims to build affordable housing that gives families shelter so they can be self-reliant.

Who it's right for

Got mad building skills? Put them to work at a Habitat site. But if you don't know how to build, that's okay! Habitat will train you as you go.

As a klutz who doesn't know how to use a hammer, I found my time with Habitat both rewarding and educational. All you need is to be physically fit and willing to step up.

Typical duties

  • Building/construction
  • Painting
  • Repairs
  • Customer service (At Habitat's ReStore locations)
  • Demolition

How to volunteer near you

Find your local Habitat for Humanity. You'll need to complete an application and may need to attend an orientation.

Food Pantries

Food PantryAccording to Feeding America, 40 million people in the U.S. don't know where their next meal is coming from. Food pantry volunteers fight hunger by providing meals to those in need.

Who it's right for

If you want to fight hunger and serve your community, consider volunteering at a food pantry. They offer flexible shifts for both individuals and groups.

You'll need to be in a fit condition to volunteer at a food pantry since you'll be expected to move boxes and sort donations. A sunny disposition doesn't hurt, either!

Typical duties

  • Loading crates
  • Sorting food
  • Checking expiration dates
  • Cleaning
  • Greeting
  • Cooking
  • Delivery

How to volunteer near you

Many local food pantries partner with churches or religious organizations. Check if your city runs a food pantry, too. You can also check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities.

Library

Libraries give so much to the community. In addition to free books, movies, and games, they often offer special events, meeting spaces, and literacy initiatives.

Who it's right for

A love of people and the written word are all you need to volunteer at the library. Whether you want to read to youngsters or sequester yourself in the stacks, library volunteers are great with people and love to read.

Typical duties

  • Checking books
  • Storytime
  • Event assistance
  • Organizing
  • Shelving

How to volunteer near you

A great way to find library volunteering positions is to connect with your local Friends of the Public Library. You can also inquire the next time you swing by your library.

Museums

MuseumsMuseums are a community treasure but often run on tight budgets. Museums rely on volunteers for education, events, and customer service.

Who it's right for

Do you find yourself visiting your favorite museums again and again? Or maybe you have a real appreciation for art or history? Either way, the museum is great for you.

You'll need to have good people skills since this job often involves customer service. Knowledge of the museum's pieces and history won't hurt, either.

Typical duties

  • Cleaning/maintenance
  • Materials preparation
  • Special events assistance
  • Gallery attendant
  • Administrative tasks

How to volunteer near you

Do you have a favorite local museum? Visit their web site to see if they accept volunteers. Many museums offer volunteer programs that require an application, background check (because of priceless art and all), and training.

Retirement homes

1.3 million people live in retirement homes. For the elderly in these homes, loneliness is a real problem. That's why retirement homes enlist volunteers to keep the atmosphere lively and upbeat.

Who it's right for

If you enjoy sitting quietly with your grandparents and caring for others, you'll love volunteering at the nursing home.

Typical duties

  • Hosting and entertainment
  • Conversation with residents
  • Cleaning
  • Crafting
  • Administration

How to volunteer near you

Search for local retirement homes. You'll complete an application, interview, background check, and orientation.

Hospitals

Hospitals have plenty of staff on hand, but still need help from caring, compassionate volunteers.

Jim: When I was in high school, I volunteered at the Stony Brook University Hospital in the pediatrics department. I just played with some of the kids in the playroom for a couple of hours. It was fun because they were going through so much and just being able to play with toys, board games, and just get out of their rooms – that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Who it's right for

Hospitals need people who have a sunny disposition to make the hospital feel more like home. If you like cheering people up and interacting with others, the hospital needs your talents.

Typical duties

  • NICU cuddling (cuddle with newborns!)
  • Admitting / administrative
  • Greeting
  • Ministry
  • Pet therapy

How to volunteer near you

Search online for local hospitals. If you prefer working with kids, look for children's hospitals.

To be a hospital volunteer, you'll need to apply, undergo a physical, receive immunizations, pass a background check, and complete orientation.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is an organization that prepares and delivers meals to senior households who need them. They are always on the lookout for folks to package the meals as well as deliver them to the folks who need them.

Who it's right for

As a deliverer of meals, they need people who have access to a car and a willingness to drive around to deliver meals and meet with the folks who need their meals. As a meal packer, they need folks who are willing to package up the meals (hot lunch and cold dinner) into bags and then sacks for the drivers to deliver.

Typical duties

  • Delivering meals
  • Meeting with seniors
  • Preparing hot and cold meals
  • Lifting (the food carriers)

How to volunteer near you

Search for your local chapter of Meals on Wheels and submit a volunteer application. Each local organization is separately managed, and many require you to be a resident of the state they service. You may also have to attend an orientation.

National Parks Service

Do you like the outdoors? Do you want to help make our national parks a better place? You can volunteer with the National Park Service.

Who it's right for

I think it's pretty clear who this is right for! 🙂

Typical duties

This is a little harder to answer because it's on a case-by-case basis and will depend on whether it's a one-time event or a longer-term situation. You would be working alongside park employees or with a partner organization. Suffice it to say you should expect to be working hard, working with your hands, and working outdoors.

How to volunteer near you

The National Parks Service maintains a Volunteer with Us page with more information.

Tax Benefits of Volunteering

When you volunteer, you can deduct the cost of driving to and from the volunteering location at 14 cents a mile as long as the organization is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. If you used public transportation, that expense is deductible well. This is an itemized deduction.

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Makenzi Wood

About Makenzi Wood

Makenzi Wood is a full-stack marketer turned blogger who aspires to retire early. She writes about living the good life while paying off $250,000 of debt.

She has a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies from Trinity University.

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  1. Elisabeth Southgate says

    I appreciate you helping me learn more about where to find volunteering opportunities. I never would have thought my local museum might have need of a gallery attendant or help with a special event. My daughter loves museums. Maybe seeing if see can become a volunteer would interest her.

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