If there’s one thing that summer can teach you, it’s that brightness is contagious. The first rays of spring sunshine turn into vivid flowers, brightening the days of all passersby. For that reason, summer is often the best time to give back – and where’s the best place to volunteer? Outdoors, of course!
So, whether you have a lot of time or a little, we have suggestions on how to mix fresh air with the thrill of giving back:
1. Volunteer at a Local Charity Run/Walk
Helping out at a charity run lets you both cheer on tired participants and support a local charity’s fundraiser. You also have the option of running yourself, or simply donating money if you don’t have the time. Relay for Life is a great event to join, and Chicago readers should check out Bud’s Run on June 22nd, whose proceeds will go to the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
2. Help Clean up a Community Park
Spending a few hours lending a hand at a park can help bring beauty into the lives of countless neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers alike. Contact your nearby park district to get involved, or Chicago residents can volunteer outdoors with Friends of the Parks.
3. Give Time to the YMCA
The “Y” offers a wide range of outdoor volunteer opportunities, including the option to coach or referee youth sports games or teach swim lessons. Helping out there would be a great way to put a smile on many young faces. Find your local YMCA here and contact them to get involved!
4. Volunteer Outdoors with a Summer Camp
Whether you have a week to spare or time to visit a nearby camp once a week, you can help make a child’s summer as a outdoor camp volunteer. Many camps also have special missions that might fit your personal interests. Check online for a nearby camp that suits your interests, or check out MDA, an organization that provides camp experiences for children with muscular disease, to see if they offer a program near you.
5. Embark on a Service Trip
Adventurous do-gooders can check out service trips, where you can spend a week building homes in Appalachia, preserving wildlife in Montana, or even creating school gardens in Peru! No matter your profession or interests, you’re sure to find a great fit!
There are a variety of ways to get out of the house, get fit, and give back this summer. Remember: even if you are too busy to volunteer outdoors, you can still spread the summer cheer by donating items to our charities!
Kevin Binder is a 2013 summer marketing intern at Zealous Good, an in-kind donations marketplace in Chicago. You can find him on Google+ or find Zealous Good on Facebook or on Twitter at @ZealousGood.