volunteer_appreciation
National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities around the world. National Volunteer Week was established as a program of Points of Light in 1974 and has grown exponentially since then. This week marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week. Here are 40 things you can do this week to help your community.

1. Say “thank you” to a volunteer
2. Play with animals: volunteer at the Humane Society
3. Spend time at a nursing or assisted living home
4. Care for the environment by recycling, composting and planting trees
5. Volunteer with Autism Speaks by participating in a walk
6. Give blood
7. Host a bake sale for No Kid Hungry
8. Collect and donate DVDs, stuffed animals or books to hospitals and shelters
9. Write cards to soldiers, kids in hospitals and volunteer firefighters
10. Host an appreciation dinner for volunteers
11. Join Big Brothers Big Sisters in your community
12. Set up a web-page for a local non-profit agency
13. Make birthday cards for the elderly
14. Volunteer to clean up trash at a community event
15. Plant a community garden
16. Conduct an Easter egg hunt for needy children
17. Volunteer at a Special Olympics event
18. Read to a visually impaired person
19. Volunteer with the International Humanity Foundation
20. Organize a neighborhood drive for furniture, clothes and food to give to shelters
21. Offer to babysit a sibling, relative or friend
22. Collect unused makeup and cosmetics for women’s shelters
23. Make bird feeders for public places
24. Sponsor a child at Save the Children
25. Assist at an after-school little league or sports program
26. Be a friend to a senior citizen
27. Plant a tree for Arbor Day, the last Friday in April
28. Help cook and serve a meal at a homeless shelter
29. Have a Read-A-Thon for needy children
30. Use your cooking skills to volunteer with Culinary Corps
31. Volunteer at your local hospital
32. Volunteer at a food bank
33. Advocate for the arts
34. Teach yoga or gardening to young adults
35. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity
36. Volunteer at a local museum
37. Offer to mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor
38. Volunteer virtually with Zidisha
39. Make a gift basket for a volunteer
40. Visit Volunteer Match to find more ideas in your area

Volunteering is just as important as recognizing today’s volunteers. This year’s National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage their communities. It is about taking action and making a difference.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Points of Light, Global Youth Service Day, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Photo: Walkin