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There are so many places to volunteer that sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to try and decide. If you'd like to dedicate some of your extra time to helping people and others in need, we might be able to help. Check out these 10 opportunities - they can help provide personal growth and development as well as making a real impact on people's lives.
CASA volunteers are specially trained volunteers who speak up on behalf of abused and neglected children during court proceedings. This is an intensive type of volunteering that takes a special kind of person. It can be very difficult to deal with the children's stories. However, the help you provide is invaluable, and you can have a direct impact on changing that child's life. Check out its programs in PA to see if there's a CASA office near you.
PA food banks provide meals for people in need. This means you are providing help to people right in front of you who legitimately need it. Various food banks in PA are expecting a larger turnout for Halloween and are encouraging volunteers to come in costume! There's also a Turkey Drive to get ready for Thanksgiving, when they are especially slammed and short-staffed. Check out Central PA Food Bank volunteer form to get started.
Community gardens are often shorthanded. If you have a green thumb or you want to learn how to garden, volunteering can be a great option. Some of these gardens, such as Lewisburg Community Garden, are even dedicated to donating all their crops to local food banks. If you live in the area, take a look at their volunteer hours and see if you can come learn about winter gardens.
If you're interested in helping disadvantaged women develop the skills they need to improve their careers and circumstances, this could be a great opportunity. This organization provides clothes, career counseling and a support network to those in need. If you can't volunteer your time, they also accept donations of new or gently used work attire. Check out their Referral Agency Application Form to get involved.
Meals on Wheels provides food to disabled and elderly people who might have trouble getting food on their own. You can volunteer for basically every position, including cook, driver, runner and food rescue. This allows you to help people at a time when they might not have anyone else to turn to. Check out their online sign up form to get started.
If you're interested in helping out senior citizens in more ways than providing meals, Messiah Lifeways might be up your alley. This Christian faith-based organization helps to provide nursing care, residential living, and enhanced living for older people who might need some help finding friends. This offers a wide variety of opportunities like swimming coaches, librarians, and basic clerical duties. Check out their volunteering page for more information.
Ronald McDonald House is responsible for supporting and offering housing to families with children in need. For Central PA, these are children that are being treated at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Making an impact on children who are going through a rough time can be incredibly rewarding. If you're interested in learning more, you can take a look at the kinds of volunteer opportunities available.
The Greenbelt Association is great for people who are interested in getting outdoors, even in the colder weather. This area is a 21-mile bike path through Harrisburg, which encompasses both roads and dedicated bike path areas. This area is a small oasis in the middle of the city, and provides people and families a safe place to explore the outdoors. If you would like to help with the beautification of the path, take a look at their volunteering information page.
If you have a love of horses, this could be a great volunteer opportunity for you. This program provides riding lessons and therapeutic horseback riding for people with disabilities. The entire organization is run by volunteers, so you can get involved in just about anything. Check out their volunteer applications and information so you can get started.
If you're more interested in protecting our environment and want to try and make changes on a longer timeline, the PA Conservancy may be for you. This organization is dedicated to protecting and preserving Pennsylvania's wild areas. If you'd be interested in learning about the politics behind this mission and representing the organization, or if you have an expertise you'd like to share, this could be worth your while. Fill out their online application form to see if you'd be a good match.
These opportunities cover a wide range of options so you're sure to find something you can excel at. No matter what, simply spending some time helping people in need is a great way to help yourself along with others.
Greenbelt race photo by Clara S / other images in public domain