Monday, December 30, 2013

Volunteer Throughout the Year in 2014

The holiday season inspires many people to volunteer, to donate, and to give back in ways big and small.  While wonderful that this time of year leads to such an outpouring of support, it is important to remember that people and nonprofits need help all 365 days of the year.  While you gear up for January 1, think about how to make those New Year's Resolutions stick.  You'll feel a lot better about buying that one-year gym membership if you actually make it past February to the gym, and you'll make a world of difference if you volunteer again in 2014 outside of the holiday season.

In LAist's "The Problem With Volunteering On Skid Row On Thanksgiving," the author notes that people clamor to give back on this one day, making reservations in early October for November 28.  If volunteering your time, especially with your family, on one special holiday leads to additional volunteer dates and nonprofit education, then by all means -- volunteer in the spotlight.  But, make sure that when you book your volunteer date in November and December, you book a few dates in 2014 as well.  If you are motivated by special holidays and events, then make it a point to seek out these dates throughout the year.  Here are some ideas for 2014:

January: Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy by giving time at one of the many Days of Service around the nation.  For example, I'll be working with City Year Los Angeles and the UCLA Volunteer Center to create and paint inspirational murals at Horace Mann Middle School.  Learn about other ideas for Monday, January 20 at

Photo Credit: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

February: Find a senior center in your local neighborhood and bring a group of friends to start a Valentine's Day dance complete with decorations, cute handmade Valentine's cards, and best of all - let the seniors teach you their favorite "old school" dance moves!

March: Get "lucky" by volunteering to help with one of the many national St. Patrick's Day parades, or work with a local school or daycare center to set up a treasure hunt for a lucky pot o' gold.

April: No foolin' -- April is host to National Volunteer Week, which commemorates outstanding service work.  Pick your favorite nonprofit, Easter-related or otherwise, and find a day to volunteer or donate this month for a cause you believe in.

Photo Credit: Points of Light

May: Both Mother's Day and Memorial Day fall in May, so honor these dates by spending time to help at a domestic violence shelter or veterans site.  Create hygiene kits at home and bring them into a shelter, provide assistance at a call center, or visit a VA home or hospital to spread some cheer.

June/July: Celebrate Father's Day, school graduations, and the kick-off to summer by signing up to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.  If you have some time-off from work or school, there are also a number of summer volunteer opportunities to travel somewhere new or engage in service-learning.

August/September: School is back in session, so donate needed school supplies or tutor/mentor a child in need.  Make a wish come true for a teacher and his/her classroom; find and sponsor a project you like on Donors Choose.

October: Volunteer at a haunted house for kids, donate leftover Halloween candy to a good cause, or do something for Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For November and December, search "holiday volunteer opportunities" on Google with your city name, and you'll find a wealth of information related to World AIDS Day, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more.

Remember, it doesn't matter when you give back, as long as you do!  Find an organization that means something to you, and you'll be giving back to both your favorite nonprofit and to yourself.

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