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Turn over a new leaf as a volunteer

As summer winds down and kids head back to school, a wide range of volunteer opportunities open up. Here are a few ways you can help your friends and neighbors who are short on time, and communities who could use a helping hand.

Lighten their load.

Do you know a single parent or senior in your neighborhood who could use some extra muscle completing seasonal preparations? You can assist with removing window air conditioning units or take care of light home and yard maintenance such as cleaning gutters and clearing downspouts, making sure they drain away from the property, clearing out brush from the summer garden, or installing reflective sticks along driveway paths in advance of winter snowfall. This checklist can help you get started. And ready.gov can help make sure you’re prepared for an early snowstorm, extreme cold, or other potentially dangerous event.

Fall cleaning often leads to heavy loads of donation-ready items. You could volunteer to drop off these items for your neighbors, or coordinate an on-site pickup with organizations such as the Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans or Goodwill. Have a box (or many!) of paperback books to give away? Why not send them to our U.S. troops.

Get Crafty with your Harvest

Did you have a good summer in the garden? If you ended up harvesting more vegetables and fruit than you or your family needs, rather than freezing the items, can them or make jellies and jams. Then donate them to neighbors in need, or distribute as gifts for the holidays. Not so much into canning or jarring? You can sponsor a family in need of nutritional support as part of the Family-to-Family program. Find a community close to you, here. Your local food pantry may also need help organizing and preparing for an influx of Thanksgiving donations. Or you might wish to organize a food drive of your own to help local families in need.

Call yourself “Coach.”

Fall and winter sports such as soccer, football, basketball, field hockey and cross country are more popular than ever among American youth, but per-capita funding for these programs is near an all-time low. Local teams at every age and level of competition are in desperate need of volunteer assistance. If you have the time and the desire, even if you lack the background, knowledge and experience, you may be able to help. Check out national groups such as the American Youth Soccer Organization or Special Olympics to learn more about getting involved, or contact your local schools and community centers directly.

Find more ways to make a difference in your community as a volunteer. Search local opportunities here.

Charity beyond the ordinary

Charity beyond the ordinary

Cell phones, books, glasses, cars—your non-traditional charitable gifts can make an extraordinary difference.

Clean up a river

Lead a waterway cleanup

By leading a waterway cleanup effort with others in your community, you can help make your river or stream a safer, healthier place.