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Get in the Game

Everyone wins when you team up for service

There’s nothing like fall sports: Football is in full swing, and baseball’s postseason is peaking. Meanwhile, the home team’s colors cover entire towns, crowds shake stadiums and communities come together to celebrate team spirit.

From food fun to home repair homeruns, everyone’s a winner when you volunteer and give back to your community. Fall is a fun time to hit your service stride.

Nourish your neighbors

Autumn is a time of abundance, and big games mean big tailgate parties and scrumptious spreads.

Are you the hosting type and plan to have people over? Or do you get a little competitive and arrange cookoffs? No matter your culinary inclination, make some extra food for your local shelter or food bank and arrange for a few super fans to help drop off the bounty.

After you’ve digested your fabulous meal, talk with your local teams about the food that’s prepared but not served at each game. Ask them to donate the food to a local shelter through the nationwide Sports Wrap service. It could add up to hundreds of meals.

If your favorite team already donates its food, you can volunteer to deliver the meals, or you could ask other venues to start a donation program with hospitals, schools or other community partners.

Gear up for good

Our favorite team colors fill many of our closets. If you get some new hoodies or hats this season, consider donating your older stuff—and other clothes while you’re at it. In fact, you can make it a game: Keep score of donations in your neighborhood, and honor the winner with a service celebration.

And when people come over for the party or to watch the game, invite them to bring bags of lightly used clothing. (Be sure to check in with your local shelters to see which items they need most.)

Want some more ways to engage your guests? Hang a posterboard next to the donation area and ask people to write their favorite memories connected to the clothes they’ve donated. Then turn the memories into a tapestry to accompany the clothes. Also try having a contest for the kids: See who can stack the most bags before the tower topples over!

You can build your team spirit at work by holding a coat drive at the office. You can include opportunities for interaction. Don’t forget to announce when the coats will be delivered and invite team members to join the activity.

Turn service into a team effort

Football and baseball aren’t the only outdoor activities you can engage in during autumn. In fact, fall is the perfect time to keep up your exercise routine before colder weather arrives.

Raise money and awareness for a cause you care about by walking, running or biking as a team. When organizing the project, ask for help from your home team—your family, friends and co-workers. Look for the walks and runs in your area, or ask a runners’ club for their list. Be sure to check in with your local bike shop to see if they sponsor any charity rides.

Here’s another idea your home team can support: Strengthen your community by teaming up with Rebuilding Together, which helps make critical repairs for low-income homeowners and rebuilds community centers and playgrounds. You and your team can be rookies in painting or repairs—the veterans on the project can captain your efforts.

Time to team up

Get your friends, family and coworkers together to find a volunteer opportunity near you.

Competitive streaks

Challenge your neighbors by creating a fun game for collecting food, clothing or books. Nearby homeowner’s associations could compete for bragging rights or a Community Champion trophy.