With the holidays fast approaching, many people feel inspired to give back, and help those less fortunate, as well as the community they live in. With so many organizations in the Long Island area, and all over the country, it’s hard to know where to begin to give back. The good news is that it is easy! There are simple, accessible ways that you can put your efforts in to help those around you.
One of the advantages of living in a community like Long Island, or really anywhere in the country, is that there are ample opportunities to volunteer, or donate in any capacity to organizations or aspects of society that you feel inspired by.
To begin, start thinking about things that are important to you, or even things that you enjoy doing. Are you crafty? Reach out to hospitals or nursing homes to see if they need anything sewn or crocheted. Enjoy cooking? Find a Meals on Wheels to volunteer with, or a food pantry that prepares meals. From making sandwiches for the homeless, to volunteer firefighting - there really is something for everyone. Also think about how much time you’d like to commit to helping. From a couple of hours here and there, to helping out during weekends, there are volunteer opportunities that span from a little to a lot of commitment.
If you like animals, contact an animal shelter. Maybe they’ll need help cleaning cages, walking dogs, or feeding the animals. If you don’t have the ability to volunteer your time, you could always work towards gathering materials that they are in need of, such as bedding, or newspapers. If you find a rescue organization you feel strongly about, many look for foster families to help provide homes for dogs and cats; if this is something you’d like to do, reach out to one of your choosing - there really is one for every breed and pet.
Another wonderful animal organization to give back to, one that is near and dear to our hearts at Raynor and D’Andrea, is Friends of America’s VetDogs. This amazing agency supports and sponsors dogs for veterans. With this community service group being all-volunteer driven, they are always in need and grateful for assistance. Some opportunities include many different tasks from fostering puppies on weekends, community outreach, to helping sew crate mats. And if you’d just like to make a monetary donation, there are many ways to do so, you can even make that contribution in honor or memory of a favorite pet, or close veteran. And while this agency’s homebase is in Long Island, they have many different volunteer opportunities in other areas as well.
If you’re more of a people person, there are chances to volunteer in retirement homes, hospitals, and the like. If you reach out to volunteer coordinators for these centers, they can assist you in finding opportunities to help - from talking to patients, helping with recreation or activities, your assistance would be much appreciated, from staff and patients alike.
If you enjoy organizing and planning events, consider hosting a coat, food, or toy drive, to collect much needed materials during the winter. It really warms the soul and spirit to provide to those less fortunate than you.
Do you like being more behind the scenes? Many agencies need volunteers for office work. From helping compile mailers, to assisting with social media, to writing letters; there really is something for everyone that can accommodate different skill sets.
Feeling inspired, and wanting to learn more? Long Island is fortunate to have an organization that can assist you in finding volunteer opportunities. Reach out to the Long Island Volunteer Center by visiting their website, or calling them at (516) 564-5482. And if you are not in this area, fear not, because there is bound to be plenty of opportunity wherever you reside- reach out to local organizations to see what is needed. Nationally, the Red Cross, usually has volunteer opportunities, from fundraising, donating blood, or helping out in other capacities.
Please keep in mind that the COVID-19 emergency may affect the potential to volunteer in-person, but this won’t affect the ability to collect and donate goods and money. There may even be the potential to assist remotely. And with people’s livelihoods affected by the pandemic, there is a bigger need for support.
These are all simply suggestions - feel free to assist the community in any way that feels right to you. If you are fortunate enough to have the time or resources, no matter how big or how small, you can help. And it really, truly, only takes one person to make a difference. Be that person.