With summer fast approaching, students are looking forward to the sunshine, vacations, and intense lounging. For those of us who aren’t taking a full credit load, we’ll have plenty of time for summer laziness. But with so many fantastic volunteer opportunities around the Puget Sound area, students should really consider using their free time to do some good.
The great thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is the beautiful surroundings. With summer in mind, these volunteer opportunities give students the ability to get outdoors. Besides working on a tan, participants can help out their neighborhoods, whether by maintaining trails or helping feed the hungry.
1. Washington Trails Association
The Washington Trails Association (WTA) works year-round maintaining some of Washington’s most beautiful trails. Joining a “trail work party” is especially fun because volunteers are able to get outdoors and stay active. As a volunteer, you help clear the way for new trails, maintain drainage, and remove obstructions. If you have a whole weekend to spare, WTA offers several volunteer vacations. These are essentially backpacking trips in which you spend many days fortifying trails, all while enjoying Washington’s scenic beauty. If you’re interested in volunteering with WTA, check out their website at www.wta.org.
2. Pierce County Gleaning Project
The Pierce County Gleaning project is operated through the Emergency Food Network. Gleaning essentially involves obtaining excess produce from local farms and donating that food to the needy. Once again, this is an opportunity to get outdoors while simultaneously helping the community. Volunteers travel to local farms or community gardens to help pick the produce. With Pierce County food banks and hot meal sites accommodating 147,000 visits a month, gleaning is an important way to help meet demand (Emergency Food Network). If you’d like information on how to volunteer, go to http://piercecountygleaningproject.org/blog/
3. Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is an amazing organization that helps low income families build a home. If you make under a certain amount each year and are willing to help build your home, you actually might qualify for assistance from Habitat for Humanity. But even if you’re not interested in homeownership right now, it can be more than fulfilling to help someone else achieve their dream. Habitat for Humanity offers tons of volunteer opportunities, including construction and office work. To find out how to volunteer, visit http://www.tpc-habitat.org/.
4. Mother Earth Farm
If you like digging in the dirt and working outside, this would be a great volunteer opportunity for you. Emergency Food Network, also involved in the Gleaning Project, operates an eight-acre farm in Puyallup that provides over 150,000 pounds of produce each season – all for food banks and hot meal programs. At Mother Earth Farm, you’re not just picking fruit, you’re also helping to plant seeds and do some weeding. Overall, it’s just another chance to make a positive impact on the community, all while getting outside. For more information on Mother Earth Farm, go to http://www.efoodnet.org/get-involved/farm/.