30 Community Service Ideas to Celebrate National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month, giving you the perfect opportunity to do good in the world whether you have an hour or an afternoon to spend helping others.

Below are 30 fun ways to lend a hand and make an impact on your community. Many of the projects require little to no preparation and can be done as a solo activity or with a group. Choose an idea or two to start and create a sign up to enlist the help of family, friends, and coworkers. Do what you can and soak up the feel-good vibes! 

  1. Stock the Freezer - As you make meals during the year, stock the freezer with a few extras and be ready to help a friend or neighbor at a moment's notice.
  1. Park Clean Up - Grab some bags and invite your pals to spend a few hours on trash duty at your favorite green space.
  1. Lemonade Stand - Perfect for kids of all ages, set up a stand and whip up a pitcher of cool, refreshing lemonade. Let kids choose a favorite cause or organization to donate their earnings. 
  1. Donate Books - If you have books, magazines or other reading materials collecting dust, put them to good use and donate to a local school or library. 
  1. Meals on Wheels - Find a local organization that delivers meals to those in need and see how you can help. Additionally, if you have a friend or neighbor who needs access to food, contact the organization and assist with the paperwork.
  1. Little Free Library - Put your DIY skills to good use and build a stand-alone “little free library.” Some libraries offer starter kits or visit your local home improvement store or online retailer for supplies.
  1. Food Drive - Organize a food drive for a local food pantry. Promote the event through social media and set up a collection barrel at your home or public meeting point or go door to door.
  1. Letter Writing – Show members of the military your appreciation with a handwritten letter thanking them for their service and sacrifice. Write a service member you know personally or check out an organization like Operation Gratitude. Include drawings from the youngest members of the family!
  1. Reading Program – Share the gift of reading with a student who needs a little extra help. Just a few hours a month can make a huge difference in the life of a young person – contact a local school or youth program to find out about volunteer opportunities.
  1. Animal Shelter - Help your local animal shelter by donating bags of food, walking animals or taking a dog or cat home for the weekend to give them a break from shelter life. 
  1. Donate Blood - Give the gift of life when you organize a blood drive. Encourage your school, workplace, place of worship or neighborhood to make it an annual event or make a resolution to donate regularly. If you’re short on time, donate blood at a drive in your area.
  1. Race Event - Stay healthy and lace up for a great cause. Find a race benefiting a charity or nonprofit you want to support and start training!
  1. Retirement Home – Spend time at a local retirement facility spreading smiles and cheer. Bring arts and crafts, games or cards, or sit and talk with residents.
  1. Coat Drive - Clean out your closets and help friends and neighbors stay warm during the colder months. Reach out to faith congregations and shelters to see where your donation would be best used. 
  1. Smart Supplies - Fill gently used or donated backpacks with school supplies and give them to children living in women’s shelters. 

  1. Play Time – Have toys at home that your kids have outgrown? Reach out to childcare facilities or preschools to see if they accept gently used toys.
  1. Teach A Class – Know a useful skill you can teach like painting or writing, or helping people learn how to do yoga or make a monthly budget? Reach out to a local community or senior center and ask about hosting a class.
  1. CPR Training- The opportunity to save a life is the ultimate act of community service. Take a class as a family and recertify every year.
  1. Donate Hair - Give those flowing locks to an organization that can put them to good use. Pair up with a friend or family member for twice the fun. Be sure to review length requirements before you head to the salon!
  1. Share the Harvest - If you have a green thumb, plant extra fruits and veggies during the growing season. Give produce away for free to people or organizations in need of fresh food or charge a discounted price and put the money back into the community. 
  1. Plant a Tree – The simple and beautiful act of planting a tree curbs erosion, creates habitats for furry and winged creatures and makes Mother Nature happy. 
  1. Wildlife Adoption Programs – Research wildlife adoption programs online and choose an endangered animal to support like a sea turtle, panda, an elephant or a manatee.
  1. Hats for Babies - All you need is yarn and knitting needles to make warm hats for preterm babies in newborn intensive care units. Check out YouTube for knitting tutorials!
  1. Snack Basket – Fill a basket with bottles of water and snacks to keep by your front door for mail and delivery persons.
  1. Free Childcare - Offer to babysit free of charge to give busy parents the gift of time to themselves.
  1. Lend Expertise – Offer your professional skills like IT support, accounting, public relations, graphic design to help a local nonprofit.
  1. Water Health - After a big storm, walk the neighborhood and clear drains of debris. This small act keeps roads clear for neighbors and clean streams flowing.
  1. Adopt a Family - Adopt a family during the year and help provide for basic needs like food and clothing. Alternatively, bring joy during the merriest time of year by adopting a family during the holiday season.
  1. Service Club – Invite family and friends to join a group that meets to volunteer once a month or whatever schedule works best. Ask members for ideas on causes or nonprofits they would like to serve. Then, plan an outing for lunch or coffee after you serve to share your experiences and learnings.
  1. Social Media Support - Help local nonprofits get the exposure they deserve with a social media boost. Volunteer to promote a specific event or dedicate a few hours a week to developing a social media plan.
A little bit of good goes a long way. This list is just the beginning of all you can do to make the world a better place!

Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C. She gratefully shares her life, home and heart with her daughter and their dog.