Someone's Gotta Give
Local charities and programs in need
Just because the holidays are winding down doesn’t mean the giving needs to end. Many of our area’s agencies still need help in the months ahead. Whether it’s feeding the homeless, reading to a child, planting a garden, or walking a dog – this is your personal hit list of charities is in need of people to give back, donate and/or volunteer year round.
The Volunteer Center serves Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, and Stamford with 178 volunteer opportunities, such as administrative assistants for non-profits, child advocates, Adopt A Granny programs, and many other rewarding “jobs.” It’s a great way to jump-start your volunteer work.
The Voluntary Action Center of Coastal Fairfield County is a partnership between the Human Services Council and United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. They serve the towns of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. Their Mission is to match the skills and interests of our volunteers (individual, group, student, or corporate) with the needs of non-profits in the community and to build one-on-one relationships with volunteers to ensure a meaningful experience for all. To find out more email or feel free to call (203) 339-6310.
Photograph via skynesher /istockphoto.com
The Audubon Society of Connecticut’s mission has always been to conserve Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and their habitats. They welcome volunteers who can currently participate in:
- Citizen Science Projects
- Projects at their centers, including research, bird banding, animal care, organizing field trips, and office and administrative work
- Working at State Headquarters, including membership support and services
The Connecticut Humane Society has been helping humans and animals alike since it’s founding in 1881. Now strictly serving the animal population, volunteers of the Society are needed and can be used in many different capacities. Some may work hands-on with shelter animals, while others can assist the administrative staff behind the scenes. Volunteers can come weekly to work in the shelter, while others may foster pets in their own homes. There are options open for everyone!
Groundwork Bridgeport is looking for volunteers to work on Bridgeport beautification, landscaping, cleanup projects, and especially their Old Folks Yard Care program, which provides yard maintenance assistance to homeowners 65 and older that live in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Norwalk, or Stratford.
Youth United, a program by Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, is open for anyone ages 5 to 25 years old. This program offers great hands-on experience for children, teens, and young adults, and allows volunteers to learn the safe ways they can get involved in building houses for families in need. Youth United is currently raising money for a Youth United-sponsored house, and construction will begin in the spring. All volunteers are asked to attend planning meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, 7pm at the Habitat office, 1542 Barnum Ave., Bridgeport.
The Let's Say Thanks campaign provides an online method for people to send a quick note to the troops overseas. Simply select a card from the 80 card options, which have been designed by children from all over the U.S., and type up a personalized note. Hit submit to send some support to a soldier; cards are printed and mailed to all service members in active war zones. Send as many as you like-there's no charge.
Did you know that for less than a soft drink a pack of one dozen pencils can be purchased, which would in turn help 12 children be able to write? Through The Pencil Project, parents and kids of all ages can collect pencils for a needy school in the U.S. or a developing country. Volunteers are also responsible for collecting postage-a one-dollar donation will go toward shipping costs for a pack of pencils. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information.
Members of Soldiers' Angels can adopt a deployed military man or woman in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard and send them support from home in the form of a weekly letter and monthly care package. This is the perfect way to give back and show support to the many men and women who are serving our country. For more information, please call 626-529-5114.
Programs serving children and families
Kids in Crisis since 1978 has provided free, round-the-clock help for Fairfield County children, teens and parents of all socio-economic levels dealing with any type of crisis, including abuse, neglect, family conflict and more. Kids in Crisis encourages children and teenagers many opportunities to volunteer through their fantastic programs like Youth Corps for teens, and Kids Corps for kids in grades K-8th and their families. For instance, you can participate in their Be a Hero Dinner Program by cooking for their residents (13-16 people). For more information, contact Kristen Tomasiewicz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (203) 622-6556.
The Association of the Hole in the Wall Camps is a growing network of innovative camps and programs that provide life-changing experiences to children with serious medical conditions, always free of charge, to as many children as possible around the world. Volunteering with their campers can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your lifetime. Opportunities include:
- Program Support – cabin counselor, activity area
- Medical Support – physician, nurse, psychologist, physical therapist, pharmacist, EMT, etc.
- Other: maintenance, gardening/landscaping, kitchen, housekeeping, transportation, and chaperones.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life threatening medical conditions. Children in kindergarten through 12th grade can participate in Kids for Wish Kids, a program that develops project ideas to fundraise for a Make-A-Wish child. You can create your own event and/or recruit others to help. Volunteers don't need to raise enough to sponsor a whole wish, but every little bit helps make wishes come true. A bake sale, car wash, and read-a-thons are all great ways to get started.
Kids' Back Pack Program by the CT Food Bank discretely packs meals for weekend and holidays for school children who would otherwise go hungry. If you would like to learn more about the Kids’ BackPack Program for your school, please contact Carly Yearsley, Child Nutrition Coordinator, at (203) 469-5000, ext. 333, or email@example.com.
Bridgeport Rescue Mission fights poverty from the inside out by providing a place of hope and dignity through a yearlong educational program, biblical counseling and case management. They are funded by compassionate individuals, churches, businesses, and organizations.
The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County is lower Fairfield County's primary hunger-relief organization. The Food Bank provides food to about 100 non-profit agencies and programs that serve low-income people through bags of groceries and congregate meals. This includes soup kitchens, food pantries, childcare programs, homeless shelters, senior centers, domestic violence safe houses, and rehabilitation programs.
Norwalk Emergency Shelter is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on volunteers for help. The Shelter and their Manna House of Hospitality currently serves 12,000 meals a month to struggling men, women, and children. Whether you’d like to work in the shelter, cook and serve a meal, or help in the office, they welcome your help. For more information about what you can do.
Operation Hope of Connecticut holds numerous events throughout the year where volunteers are needed to assist in a variety of areas. Some of the opportunities include serving on the event planning committee, assisting with various pre-event tasks (including helping with mailings, phone calls and arranging event details), assisting at the event itself, and assisting with post event needs. Some upcoming programs are their Hope for the Holidays program (December 2011), Spring Gala (April/May 2012), and Postal Service Food Drive (May 2012).
For more volunteer opportunities go to Volunteer Match.