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Whether it’s mentoring a child, reconstructing a playground, visiting an elderly home, or clearing trash from a nearby creek, volunteering is an excellent way to bring about change on a small, intimate level. It can be a small family project or a large group or corporate team effort.  Every bit matters! 

Before grabbing the work gloves, make sure that your project has a specific focus and is properly organized to create an experience that is fulfilling and unforgettable. Check VolunteerSpokane.org for volunteer projects and opportunities throughout the Spokane area. Here are some ideas to help get the creativity going and ways to start your own project.

Neighborhood Enhancement
1. Help people or neighbors paint and repair their homes.
2. Volunteer to clean up trash around your neighborhood, a park or a school.
3. Create a mural that depicts values of your community.
4. Set up an art exhibit at a local business, sell the creations, and use the money to fund a cause in your community.
5. Collect supplies for persons who have been victims of a fire or other disaster.
6. Plant a community garden.
7. Organize a campaign to raise money for new playground equipment, or reconstruct the playground yourself.
8. Share your skills! Volunteer to teach a class at a community center or senior center.
9. When fall comes around offer to assist neighbors with raking their yards.
10. Campaign for additional lighting along poorly lit streets.

Children and Special Needs
1. Volunteer at a Special Olympics event or similar community event.
2. Work with kids on an art project.
3. Set up a buddy system with the special needs program at your school.
4. Raise money with to purchase classroom books, large print books, or other needed materials for local schools or special needs program at a school or community center.
5. Make gifts with friends for kids in the hospital. Distribute Valentines, Halloween candy, or Christmas treats/toys.
6. Build a ramp for a person in a wheelchair to make their house more accessible.
7. Volunteer to read books or newspapers to those who are visually impaired.
8. Visit a local care center to learn more about those with special needs, and ask how you can help or get involved.
9. Recruit some friends or a class to help set up a library at a children’s hospital.
10. Become a mentor or tutor for a child.

Senior Citizens
1. Adopt a “grandfriend”. Write them letters, call them, and visit them.
2. Gather friends and create a “shop squad” to help pick up groceries and medicine for elderly.
3. Deliver meals to homebound individuals.
4. Gather family and friends, organize a sing-along or concert to perform at a nursing home.
5. For the holidays, go caroling, bring (easy-to-eat) treats, or just go and visit senior citizens.
6. Offer to read to people.
7. Provide your local nursing home or library with more large-print books.
8. Teach a senior how to use a computer or the Internet.
9. Call up elderly people who live alone, in your neighborhood, to check if they need anything.
10. Volunteer to do general home maintenance for a senior citizen.

Homeless and/or Hungry
1. Help cook/serve meals at a homeless shelter.
2. Throw a birthday party for children who are homeless at a local shelter.
3. Organize a free, public nutrition awareness campaign.
4. Gather combs, toothbrushes, shampoo, razors, etc. to make “I Care” kits for people who are homeless.
5. Take children who are homeless on outings to a movie, zoo, or other fun location.
6. Hold a book drive and donate the proceeds to the shelter, and then hold a read-a-thon or give a class on basic reading skills.
7. Donate art supplies to the local shelter.
8. Offer to launder, repair or alter clothes for people who are homeless.
9. Create a garden/nursey in your local shelter, or help maintain an existing one.
10. Always keep a few granola bars on hand!

Environment
1. Clean up trash from a local outdoor public space.
2. Organize a hike or nature walk with friends, and bring bags to collect trash along the trails.
3. Have fun with creating homemade paper out of used paper with friends (It’s easy, fun, and green!)
4. Grow your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs in an organic garden, and encourage others to do the same.
5. Instead of using the car, choose the healthy route and bike to your next location. Burn energy, not gasoline!
6. Choose a family “energy watchdog” to shut off lights, television, and dripping sinks when not in use.
7. Switch your current Internet home page to an energy-saving one, such as Google’s “Blackle”, and turn down the computer screen brightness level as well. (It’s unhealthy for both the environment and your eyes.)
8. Create a children’s nature garden. Create a path, label plants and trees, and schedule guided tours.
9. Purchase recycled products as opposed to generic ones.
10. When buying food or drinks of any kind, it is better to stick to a large jug or tub as opposed to a collection of individually packaged goods.

Animals
1. Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
2. Gather newspapers and give to a local animal shelter.
3. Learn about raising and training a pet to give to a disable person, and consider whether it is an option for you and your family.
4. Visit and volunteer at a local aviary, zoo, or wild animal rehabilitation center.
5. Organize a community dog wash, and donate the proceeds to organizations that aid animals.
6. Locate homes and shelters for abandoned pets.
7. Start a ‘Chow Drive’ for the community to donate food and toys to a local shelter.
8. Offer dog-walking services to those who can’t (or won’t) give their pets the proper amount of exercise.
9. Take pictures or videos of pets that are in the animal shelter and use them when organizing a supplies drive.
10. Adopt a pet! Or, if this is not an option, volunteer to become a temporary foster parent for a pet in the shelter.