Good Neighbors

Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities for the New Year

Make a New Year's resolution to volunteer in 2019 and give back part of yourself to your community. Here are our top 10 opportunities from Sparkt's "25 Days of Volunteering."

We hope you've enjoyed Sparkt's "25 Days of Volunteering" and maybe even taken advantage of an opportunity or two over the past month. If you didn't have time, or you're making a resolution to volunteer more in the New Year, we've picked our top 10 volunteer opportunities that are a great way to give back to the community any time of the year. It's our gift to you and the people you'll serve!

10. Put Your Green Thumb to Work

If you've ever driven by one of those big community flower gardens along local roads (there's one outside the Fort Pitt Tunnels on Greentree Hill) you've seen the handiwork of Pittsburgh Parks Consevancy volunteers. That's just one of the projects they work on to make our parks more welcoming places.

9. Distribute Produce to Needy Families

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's " Produce to People " program distributes fresh produce to people in need. You'll be sorting and distributing healthy food to people who may not eat as well as they should because they can't afford to.

8. Refurbish Computers for Underserved Communities

Computer Reach has the perfect opportunity for people who are good at fixing computers (and even those who aren't!). Fridays are "Volunteer Work Day" when volunteers (singles or groups) refurbish computers that are distributed to non-profits in 39 states and 36 countries.

7. Give a Better Life Through Learning

Literacy Pittsburgh volunteers are part of one-to-one tutoring or serve as teachers in small class settings for adults to learn reading, writing and math skills. You'll be helping students prepare for high school equivalency exams, and gain skills to transition to jobs or college.

6. Help Animals and Fans of Animals

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is recruiting volunteer "docents" who take people on tours, help with kids camps and in the Kids Kingdom, and even get to do some hands-on small animal care. Certified SCUBA divers are also needed to help with aquarium's aquatic tanks.

5. Make a Homecooked Meal for a Stranger

Volunteer to prepare or bring a home-cooked meal to Ronald McDonald House as part of their " Meals from the Heart " program (that's a group of their volunteers at the top). You'll be feeding out-of-town families who are living at the house while their children are being treated in Pittsburgh hospitals.

4. Make Sure Kids Have The Basics to Learn and Achieve

OK, we know we're cheating by listing two here! But the missions are the same and so important. The Education Partnership collects and distributes school and classroom supplies at no cost to students and teachers. Volunteers do everything from working in the Partnership's "store" on Corliss Street in the West End, to sorting donations, putting together homework kits, taking inventory, and working on creative projects.

ASSET (Achieving Student Success through Excellence in Teaching) refurbishes hands-on science exploration materials for teachers to use in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) classes. Volunteers work at their ASSET's Materials Support Center to assemble these materials so they can be offered at a low cost.

3. Be a Medical Life-Saver, Not a Land-Filler

Global Links rescues tons of excess medical supplies from local hospitals and other medical facilities. They need volunteers to sort and repackage these items so they can be shipped to communities that need them. The added bonus: you'll help keep those items out of landfills.

2. Organize a Diaper Drive

Get together with friends and family to collect packages of disposable diapers and donate them to the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank . They'll be distributed to needy neighbors who can't afford to buy diapers for their children. Did you know that babies need 6-10 diapers a day and 1 in 3 families can't afford them.

1. Mentor a Child Learning to Read & Share Love of Reading

Enjoy reading and learning and want to teach children to love it like you do? Carnegie Library's " Reading Buddies " program is recruiting mentors who spend time reading with kids, helping with homework, playing games, teaching about technology, and having supportive conversations.

Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh also needs reading mentors to work with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders one-on-one. You'll read to and with your student from a list of pre-selected books that they'll get to keep (2/3 of low-income famlies don't own any books).

Merry Christmas and a Happy (Volunteering) New Year from Sparkt!

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