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Culture > News

5 Nonprofit Organizations You Should Volunteer With This Summer

Want to end your summer days feeling like you’ve made a difference? You should consider volunteering for a nonprofit organization. Volunteering is an excellent way to get involved with something you’re passionate about, particularly if you’re home for the summer and have lots of free time to spare! Are you looking to get your hands on power tools, or would you rather fill them with children’s books? No matter what your interests may be, there are tons of options for volunteering that can teach you something new and make you feel accomplished this summer.

1. If you care about affordable and safe housing, get involved with Habitat for Humanity


Habitat for Humanity strives to build affordable and safe housing through volunteer labor and donations. If you’re 16 or older and you like working with your hands, learning how to use tools, and contributing to group work, this kind of volunteering would be right up your alley. Haven’t picked up a hammer in your life? No problem! Habitat provides all of the training necessary to assist in the process. Get a few of your best friends together and participate as a group! Habitat construction builds typically last from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will give you plenty of memories to reminisce about all summer long.

Besides building, other Habitat projects include tearing down old buildings to find reusable materials and A Brush with Kindness, a program that helps low-income families repair and renovate their homes. If the prospect of wielding power tools doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways to get involved. These opportunities vary by location, but may include putting your organizational skills to the test by volunteering in offices or on committees. You can enter your zip code and contact a Habitat affiliate near you to get involved!

2. If you’re interested in first aid and disaster relief, try the American Red Cross


Getting involved with the American Red Cross is more than just helping with blood drives! The American Red Cross provides certifications for lifeguards, babysitters, swim instructors, and first aid experts. Most recently, the organization was integral in helping families who were affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy by providing them with food, shelter, and lodging.

There are several different ways to volunteer with the Red Cross without being a certified EMT or lifeguard. For instance, you can be a public relations volunteer and help behind the scenes with advertising and promotion, or you can volunteer with Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to seniors and disabled people in the community (the trips usually take 90 minutes). To be a volunteer, you need to be 18 years or older and can have a variety of skill sets. After finding an operating unit near you, you can explore the available positions.

3. If you like working with children, consider Big Brothers Big Sisters


Ever wanted to be a mentor or work with children or young teens? The Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program helps place volunteers with children who are six to 18 years old and are living in single-parent homes, growing up in poverty, or coping with parental incarceration. These kids need a boost in reaching their full potential, and that’s where you come in! This program requires an application and an interview but stresses that you don’t need a specific degree or job skills to be a positive mentor.

If you’re accepted, you’ll be matched with a Little Sister and create a schedule of consistent meeting times, when you can choose the activities! You can bring your sister to the library and read a book together, go on a walk around the town, get an ice cream cone, or just hang out and listen to music. No matter what you’re doing, the experience of friendship is the goal—you’ll be surprised how awesome your Little Sister thinks you are! The program’s success has helped decrease behaviors like illegal drug use, alcohol use, and skipping school. Becoming a Big Sister is perfect for collegiettes who want to devote a few hours a month to helping a child who could benefit tremendously from her attention and time. To find a center near you, you can search with your zip code.


4. If you’re passionate about ending world hunger, consider getting involved with Feeding America


In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in households with low food security. Feeding America hopes to stop this by placing volunteers in local food banks to repackage foods, educate students and parents on hunger-related issues, transport food, and do clerical work when needed. Volunteering at your local food bank will not only help you give back to the community, but it will also help make individuals in your area happy and healthy! To get involved, find your local food bank here.

5. If you’re enthusiastic about child literacy, volunteer with Reach Out and Read.


Reach Out and Read promotes early childhood literacy and educates parents about the importance of reading out loud to children who are as young as six months old. The idea was founded on promoting literacy in doctor’s office waiting rooms. Reach Out and Read provides literature for parents to share with kids while they’re waiting for checkups so they’re not playing with toys touched by toddlers with the sniffles. If you’re a bookworm who wants to share your love for reading with others, working with Reach Out and Read is an excellent option.

The programs typically take place in libraries and community centers and exist across the country. As a volunteer, you can bring your own favorite age-appropriate books to share with kids, give suggestions to parents, and be an interactive reading buddy for a struggling child. If you’re less inclined to teach, you can also host a book drive in your town to collect gently used books for the program. Remember your favorite bedtime story or chapter book series? Those experiences are fabulous tools to help other children who might not be exposed to the same literature. Plus, it’s a great way to read something other than a textbook during your summer break! To find a program near you, use their interactive map  that will lead you to a volunteer form you can submit online.

Using your free time volunteering this summer is way more rewarding than catching up on your DVR! Your interests and talents are valuable to share with your community, so why not give back? At the end of a long, hot summer day, knowing you made a difference in your community can be worth more than a paycheck. Give it a try!

Photo Credits
House Building 
American Red Cross
Big Brother Big Sister
Feeding America
Reach out and Read

I am a junior and a Campus Correspondent for Connecticut College! I am majoring in American Studies and a PICA scholar. I was a High School Ambassador for HerCampus in 2010-2011 and a contibuting writer 2011-2012. I love writing, editing, and social media. This fall, I am a Student Coordinator for the Women's Center, a photographer for College Relations, and am also a member of SafetyNet. When I'm not writing, I love being outside and enjoy many many different types of music. I also enjoy shopping at the Container Store, sharpie markers, thunderstorms, onesies, Gilmore Girls, The Newsroom, New Girl, 60 Minutes, and The West Wing. 
Hana is a junior at Boston University, majoring in Advertising.  Born in South Korea but raised in Austin, Texas, Hana will always be a southern girl at heart but has been learning to love the city of Boston. Hana is also involved with The Supply Education Group, working as the visual arts director for the chapter at Boston University. Hana is responsible for creating print and video campaigns for the cause of bringing secondary education to slums around the world. In her free time, Hana enjoys exploring photography and finding good eats around Boston. Hana is excited to be spending her first summer in Boston as a design intern for Her Campus!