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Volunteering A to Z

In 1987 I donned an actual red and white candy striping uniform and volunteered for over a year at the Buffalo Hospital (sure wish I had a picture of that!).  After extensive training, I was allowed to assist nurses, doctors, technicians, and administrative staff in all departments of the hospital including the ER, ICU, front desk, gift shop, med and recovery floors, and my favorite was in the newborn nursery.

I learned a lot during that volunteer opportunity.  I did not pursue a career in medicine but it opened my eyes to all the hard work that staff within a hospital do to assist in the healing of patients. In addition, I met many inspirational staff and folks who were on the mend whether I was filling out paper work, passing out juice, or even sanitizing bed pan.

Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity for both give and take and allows not only organizations to benefit from in-kind assistance, it helps people who volunteer the opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to the world around them.

Kids in particular love to help others through volunteerism. The challenge is finding a place for them to do good deeds and help out both our local and world wide community.  Following is a listing of volunteering opportunities for children.  Unfortunately, quite a few of these organizations prefer that children be at least 13 years or older.  However, some of them take children as young as 5 years old.  Raising money for favorite organizations is a great way for children to be involved in the process of helping others.  Many of the suggestions below are fundraising ideas that can be used to collect money to give directly to their charities of choice.  Please share additional volunteering opportunities that I missed in the comment section. 

Animal shelters
Assisted living facilities
Celebrate your birthday at your local animal shelter
Book drive
Bring baked goods to your neighbors
Busk (play music in public with your hat out) at a garage sale
Camp counselor
Collect Coins
Community gardens
Como Zoo and Conservatory
craft fair
Do a diaper drive for
Ask for donations (of pet food, people food, or money) in lieu of presents for your birthday to donate to your favorite charity, animal or food shelter
Domestic abuse shelters
Feed My Starving Children
Food Shelves
Fur-Ever Wild
Gather your old clothes, books, and toys to sell at a garage sale or consignment store or to even donate to area thrift stores
Harriet Tubman Center
Homeless shelter
Host a Valentine's Day party
Humane Society
Host an international student
Lemonade Stand
Life Care Centers
Little Sisters of the Poor in St. Paul
Locks of Love
Run, walk, or bike in a marathon
Meals on Wheels
Minnesota Zoo
Mow lawns
Nature Centers
Nursing homes
Pick up trash around your neighborhood, school, or park
Collect pop can tops
Rake leaves
Religious Communities - churches, synagogues, mosques
Ronald McDonald House
Root beer float party
Serve Thanksgiving Day meals
Visit elderly neighbors
Walk dogs

Additional Resources:
Global Youth Service Day - April 26-28
Listing of non-profits in Minnesota

Minnesota Council of Non-Profits member list
Volunteer Match


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