“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”
I don’t know if its the falling leaves or the fact that Halloween just passed us by, but this is the time of year when we realize how truly fortunate we are. I believe as human beings that it is our responsibility to help those that have it a little tougher than we do. Whether you believe that we should put good JuJu out in the universe; or bless someone who has it a little rougher than you, or just pay it forward, this is the season to give back and volunteer.
Growing up my parents wanted us to participate and take pride in our community, so we went to river clean-ups, helped out with our church and became actively involved with our local Boys and Girls Club, which in turn brought us a whole other world of volunteer opportunities. These activities brought our family closer and made us kids realize that compassion and a little kindness could really go a long way with people. I came away from these experiences realizing that I had a pretty great life, and I had a responsibility to help those around me, that weren’t so lucky.
In my experience, I’ve found that most people want to do something to better the world, they just don’t know how to go about it…I say start simple. Check out your local church or school to see what opportunities there are for the whole family to participate in. When you’ve conquered that, then go BIGGER. Start your own volunteer project or look into your favorite cause and see if they need help long term or with a special project. There are also announcements on Facebook, non-profit websites and community papers; most groups are looking for reliable people to help with their cause, even if you can only help for a few hours. There are so many ways to help out your city and local neighborhood, I’ve listed some organizations that need some help this month.
If you’re reading this and have a family-friendly volunteering opportunity, put it in the comment section.
Volunteering in Austin
Ronald McDonald Houses provide a place for families to stay, at little or no cost, in order for them to be with their seriously ill children.
There are different opportunities for the whole family to volunteer their services.
Saint William Catholic Church, Annie’s Way Thanksgiving lunch
For over 20 years St. William’s Church has had this event and relies on volunteers from the community to keep it going, they allow people of all ages to help with the 2 blocks of volunteer time. Helping with this event begins at 8:30 and ends at 2:30 on Thanksgiving day. For more information go to saintwilliams.org and in the search line type Annie’s Way.
Habitat for Humanity Austin
Habitat for Humanity helps people in the Austin area with owning their own home, making repairs on their home or providing expert housing counseling for people interested in obtaining a home. They allow families of all ages to help, but in different capacities, below are the links for each age groups.
Youth Programs (14 and younger)
Adult Programs (16 and Up)
Austin Diaper Bank
Austin Diaper Bank tries to reduce the need of diapers in Texas, they have different opportunities for the whole family to volunteer; if the kids are too young there is a play area to utilize, while the rest of the family participates.
Austin Animal Shelter
Austin Animal Shelter runs the biggest no kill shelter in the U.S. and its main goal is to find forever homes for all their animals. There are a vast variety of volunteer jobs that are available, but you must be at least 13 years old to volunteer.
Austin Humane Society
Austin Humane Society is a non-profit organization that helps homeless animals get a forever home. They allow volunteers of all ages, but in different areas, below are the links for the age groups.
13 and under: Humane Heros
14 and Up Volunteers
Austin Parks Foundation
Austin Parks Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps fill the funding gap, in order to maintain parks and trails throughout Austin. There is a calendar of events, which includes free fitness classes, volunteer opportunites and all activities that the whole family can participate in.
Caritas of Austin
Caritas of Austin’s goal is to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. Volunteers need to be a minimum of 13 years of age to help in the kitchen, or 16 years of age to help in the office.
Urban Roots uses food and farming to transform the lives of youth. They have a community volunteer day for the public to participate in, all you need to do is sign up in a empty slot and be at least 10 years of age.
Urban Roots Volunteer
Keep Austin Beautiful
Keep Austin Beautiful is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide resources and education for citizens to keep their communities beautiful. They welcome volunteers of all ages and provide a calendar for upcoming events for the public to particpate in.
Chuy’s 29th Annual Children Giving to Children Parade
Chuy’s parade benefits Operation Blue Santa and accepts new, unwrapped toys along their parade route. This year it lands on Nov. 18 and starts at 11 am.
Operation Turkey Drop
Operation Turkey is in different cities across the nation, Austin hopes to serve 50,000 meals to people who are hungry. They need volunteers in all capacities and encourage the whole family to participate.