5 Ways to Volunteer on Tight Schedules

Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do. At the core, it provides resources to those in need, but time spent serving others helps ourselves as well. It broadens perspectives, teaches life skills, improves our communities, and makes us feel good about our contributions. So how do we find the time when we often don’t have time for ourselves? While it’s true that some volunteer positions require a big commitment, other opportunities fit neatly into existing schedules. Here are five volunteer roles that won’t take up a great deal of time.

1. Donate Blood or Platelets

Blood donations provide life-saving whole blood, platelets, and plasma for accident victims, cancer patients, and others. A standard blood donation takes about an hour. Donating platelets requires about 1.5-2 hours per appointment. The Red Cross has a database of donation centers near you.

2. Multitask with Benefits

It’s entirely possible to add volunteerism into your existing routine. For example, it doesn’t matter how you get your steps in, so, why not combine service with fitness? Animal shelters need lots of help walking dogs. Volunteers at large hospitals (pandemic restrictions may apply) can log miles while delivering flowers, mail, and supplies.

While at the grocery store, consider picking up a few staples for an elderly neighbor or buying pantry items to donate to a food drive.

When cooking, make a little extra. Freeze one or two servings in individual containers. When a friend, family member, or the guy in Apartment 2B is recovering from a surgery, for instance, it will only take a minute to drop off a home cooked meal.

In a zero-commitment move, shop Amazon Smile, as a portion of your purchases go to an organization of your choice. Since November 2021, Amazon Smile has donated over 300 million dollars to U.S. charities.

3. Give Time During Your Getaways

Consider planning a vacation around volunteer service. Voluntourism is an ideal way for single travelers or families to understand culture, meet interesting people, and gain new perspective. The Library of Congress has resources to get you started.

4. Give Things Away

Volunteer to help others as you donate things you no longer need. Drop off gently used items to charity shops. Send old blankets, towels, and Styrofoam coolers to animal shelters. Service organizations often post lists of needed items on their websites.

To support your community, consider participating in one of the 7,000+ Buy Nothing Groups. Post items you no longer use and choose a gift recipient. It’s a gratifying, yet non-time-consuming way to get to know people in your neighborhood.

5. Social Volunteering

When attending an event, volunteer to help set up or clean up. It’s an easy way to serve, while connecting with others.

Add a little volunteerism to your next party. Invite friends to fill boxes with donated supplies for disaster relief, homeless shelters, or holiday gifts for kids in need.

Volunteerism doesn’t have to require a great deal of time. When you look for ways to serve those in your own neighborhood, it’s surprising what you’ll find.


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