“The human connection extends around the world, but starts across the street.”
– Invisible Children

Sometimes it can be hard to find places in your community to serve, or even know where to begin the process. Here are some ideas for where to look for opportunities to serve, and how to get started.

1. Food bank: Food banks and soup kitchens can always use helping hands, and not only during the holidays, when volunteers flock to them for a chance to serve. You’ll make new friends by becoming a regular. You could even clean out your own kitchen cupboards and donate unopened food that you aren’t going to eat.

2. Visit a nursing home, or homes for those with disabilities: Many people in nursing facilities love visitors. It can sometimes be difficult for their loved ones to come often, and you can’t underestimate the power of human connection. Make a card, have the little ones draw them a picture, or just go for a nice chat. It’s another great opportunity to make friends.

3. Create your own food drive: Some young boys in our neighborhood teamed with a local food bank and delivered their own flyers to the couple streets around their home. Neighbors brought the donations to their home, where a representative from the food bank helped gather the items. The boys then got to accompany her back to the food bank, where they helped sort the donated food. Reach out to your local organization to see if something like this is a possibility in your community.

4. Park clean-up: Go to your neighborhood park and pick up debris. People want a clean, safe place for their kids to play. Grab some gloves, trash bags, and your pals, and make the park sparkle!

5. Donate school supplies: At http://createthegood.org/equipped-to-learn, you can get a list of supplies that many schools need. Print off the list, buy (or gather) the items, then drop them off at a school near you. All of the supplies are guaranteed to get used!

6. Plant trees: Get on the planet’s good side and make the world a little greener. Make sure to ask neighbors and city officials to see where you are allowed to plant, pick out the right varieties from your local nursery, then start digging.

7. If you’re looking for specific needs in your community, www.allforgood.org shows opportunities for which people in your area have requested volunteers. Just type in your interests and zip code, and they’ll pop right up. Serving couldn’t be simpler!