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  • Giving back: Unique volunteer opportunities

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    Published November 7, 2012
    Giving back: Unique volunteer opportunities
    As the holidays approach, consider donating your time through these unique organizations.

    As we move into the holiday season, we are reminded that it is better to give than to receive.  And it isn’t enough to just buy some fancy gifts for your friends and relatives.

    For those who want to do more, consider giving back to your community via various volunteer opportunities. If traditional community service isn’t for you, there are a number of unique service projects that allow you to turn your interest or hobby into a way to give back.

    Cooking with kids
    For the chef of the household, introduce them to the Growing Chefs program. Spend a few hours tending a vegetable garden with young students and cook with the produce you grow yourselves.

    Volunteers visit their class every two weeks over a three-and-a-half -month period.

    Friend to the animal
    If you love man’s best friend, then consider spending some time at your local SPCA or animal control branch.
    If you have a wealth of affection to share, a number of branches offer opportunities such as taking the dogs out for walks and spending time with the animals waiting to find good homes.

    For those who want to spend some time under the sea, many local aquariums also offer several programs for those looking to give back. Volunteers can join the diving staff to take part in animal care or join the educational programs that teaches kids about the variety of sea creatures who call the aquarium home.

    Unique gifts
    If donating cash to a charity doesn’t feel personal enough, there are innumerable organizations looking for specific item donations.

    One example is Blanket BC, which hosts a drive every year to collect blankets for needy families and other non-profits.

    Have too much art hanging around your house? Donate the pieces that are collecting dust to charity. A number of organizations hold occasional auctions for high-end items such as vacations, art and other luxury goods to raise funds for various causes.

    Another way to give back via unused items is to donate your gently-used clothing. Large thrift stores such as Goodwill and Value Village take clothing and shoe donations of all kinds year-round (and they’ll also provide receipts for your income taxes, if needed).

    There are also charities seeking specific clothing items. Working Gear Clothing Society is an organization in B.C. that collects work-appropriate clothing such as steel-toed boots to help low-income, unemployed men seeking jobs in industry.

    The gift of time
    For those who have a hankering to donate their time and skills to the community, there’s a plethora of options. In addition to the traditional options of serving food at soup kitchens and spending time with the elderly, you can also help out by offering specific skill sets.

    One idea is volunteering to be a gift wrapper for the BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association. Volunteers spend five-hour shifts wrapping presents for the organization, in addition to accepting donations.

    If your interests fall into the domestic realm, you can volunteer your sewing skills as a sewing mentor for the Kettle Friendship Society. Volunteers help students expand on their basic sewing skills and learn new techniques.

    With a variety of options available, there’s no excuse not to get out there and donate your time to your community this season.

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