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So many kids. So many ways to help

Back-to-school time is right around the corner, and that means volunteer opportunities abound, inside the classroom and all around town. You don’t have to have children or grandchildren of your own to help. You just need a little time, and a willingness to make a difference.

Outfit your community.
(Volunteer Commitment: 2+ hours)

One great way to help local families in need is to organize, volunteer for, or donate to a clothing drive. You can talk to your town leaders about local women and children’s shelters and other existing programs, or simply take inventory of gently used clothing that no longer fits you or your children, and bring it to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Pack them up with supplies.
(Volunteer Commitment: 10-20 hours)

School supplies are another category of items that can strain a working family’s budget, and a backpack drive is a great way to help. The same community outreach organizations that host clothing drives may also have opportunities to volunteer for backpack drives. Contact school leaders to connect with local organizations and learn what’s needed and how you can help. Have more time on your hands? Consider starting your own school supply drive.

Share your knowledge as a tutor.
(Volunteer Commitment: 1+ hours/week)

Do you have a firm grasp of a foreign language, a strong math background or a love of reading? Why not volunteer as a tutor. Depending on your level of sophistication and understanding of a subject, there are opportunities to help children at every stage of growth including K-3rd graders learning to read. And now might be the perfect time to offer up your services to a parent struggling with back-to-school stress. Your local school leaders can help you connect with tutoring opportunities, and now you can even tutor online.

Go back to school yourself!
(Volunteer Commitment: 1+ hours/week)

If you have a little extra time to volunteer in and around the classroom, KidsHealth has dozens of tips and resources that make it easy to get involved. As D'Arcy Lyness, PhD explains “by interacting with teachers, administrators, and other parents on a regular basis, you'll gain a firsthand understanding of your child's daily activities. You'll also tap into trends and fads of school life that can help you communicate with your kids as they grow and change (all without intruding on their privacy or personal space).”

And for teachers, administrators and volunteers looking to help improve their local public schools, Project Appleseed has ideas to help you draft back-to-school letters, encourage parent involvement, get the most out of your open house, and more.

Find volunteer opportunities in your area with keyword “school.”

Send a message of hope.

Put your phone to good use. From national helplines to neighbors on your street, the power to make a difference is in your hand.