The following is a guest post from Amanda.
Community service is something anyone can be involved in no matter where you live, how old you are, your income level, or even your physical abilities. The unfortunate thing is so many people are in need, but the fortunate thing is that everyone can help. There are truly so many ways to reach out and make your local area better and help the people in need right in your own back yard.
One simply way of helping is through donations. There are local chapters of The Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and a number of other nearby resale or free shops that will gladly take your gently used items from home and offer them to people in need. If you don’t have goods at home you want to give away, then check out local shelters and food banks where you can donate grocery items. You can even go online and explore sites like Feeding America and they can tell you ways to donate and help in your neighborhoods.
Taking a few days a month, or a few hours a week to volunteer can make a huge impact as well. If you have a particular interest like kids, or construction, you can directly contact local chapters of Head Start or The Boys and Girls Club programs, or Habitat for Humanity organizations. But if you look online at websites like Volunteer Match they will help you find places right in your own community that you may not even know about. Like the MACC organization in Manchester, Connecticut that has a food bank, shelter, soup kitchen, resale shop, homeless assistance, and other volunteer opportunities. Or if you are in the Columbus area, you can join with the local county volunteer Guardian Program to help individuals who may not be able to make decisions for themselves.
A lot of local churches or even colleges that offer ministry degrees have special volunteer programs for their community. For instance, Manchester Christian Church in New Hampshire works with local social services to find families who need construction and yard work each summer, and they host local mission trips to build ramps, paint houses, restore yards and so much more for local families in need. Lincoln Christian College in Illinois has requirements worked into their undergraduate program that students spend a week each year helping in local community outreaches.
If you see a need that doesn’t seem to have an avenue to meet it, you can always create your own charity. (These are helpful tips for anyone who lives in the US. There are other protocols to do here, in Canada.)
Starting an official charity is not as hard as many people may think it is. A few simple steps you would take include:
- Filing as a non-profit organization with the government by filling out a 501(c)(3).
- You would need to clarify the direction and mission of your charity; what is its purpose; how will it help the community.
- Articles of Incorporation- each state will need these filled out and they include information about your purpose, the name , how long you plan to be in operation, the basics of your organization.
- Write bylaws.
- Attain an EIN.
- Create a board of directors.
- Get involved in your community.
This is really just a few ways you can get involved in helping people around you that may be in need. If you want to find out more you can go online and do searches, or call your local social service agencies as to places or people you can help. If you want to start small, simply look at the people you live across from and ask how you might be able to help them through a meal, yard work, babysitting or anything else.