In trying to “find myself,” I’ve found that volunteering is a great outlet to fill time on the nights and weekends. However, I found that some organizations require you to fill out a book of applications and donate a kidney before approving a volunteer. Don’t get me wrong, I love volunteering, but I don’t want to spend an entire day taking orientation classes before I actually get my hands dirty. There are plenty of places that need help in our community and will welcome you with open arms, and these won’t make you sign a year commitment in doing so.
Harvesters is a regional food bank that provides food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, and children’s homes. Harvesters’ volunteer program is a fine tuned machine; I’ve volunteered here on a few occasions now. You can register as an individual, or if you have more than six members, as a group. The volunteer sessions typically last 2-3 hours, and the time there is spent sorting and packaging food to be sent off to the organization’s non-for-profits. I particularly like volunteering here because I think it’s fun to see the different types of foods and non-perishables that are donated… Don’t come hungry!
If you’re an animal lover like me, then this is the volunteer opportunity for you. While there are quite a few pet rescue organizations in the Kansas City area, I tried to find one that required the least amount of “jumping through hoops.” Instead of attending an orientation class in person, Great Plains SPCA only requires an online, educational video and application. Volunteer activities may include walking dogs, grooming, washing bedding, or cleaning out the kennels. There is also an option to foster animals at the shelter, but will require more training and certification.
Mission Hope Thrift Store (or any local thrift store in your area)
I actually found this volunteer opportunity through work and signed up for a free Saturday morning. I assume, like volunteering on at any thrift store, I was tasked with sorting through donation items and transferring the items to their designated section in the store. Since the store relies heavily on volunteers to operate, the time frame to volunteer ranges from a few hours, to daily, based on one’s availability. Much like working at Harvester’s, it was interesting to see the variety in donation items. The day I volunteered, I got to thumb through some National Geographic magazines from the 1930s!
This is may be one of the coolest volunteer locations in Kansas City that I’ve found to date. I love their philosophy – “dining with dignity,” in that they serve the hungry in the manner of a restaurant. Volunteers act as hosts and wait staff in the soup kitchen masked as a restaurant. The volunteer hours range from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and you can sign up online. Besides the warm, fuzzy feeling you’ll get from helping those less fortunate in our community feel a sense of belonging, you get a meal after your shift!
I hope this inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and help someone in your community. Big or small, you are making an impact!