Make This a Good Year!
Make your list and check it twice—a resolution list, that is—filled with volunteering ideas for the whole year!
A new year is a perfect time to write down all your rewarding goals in 2013. Maybe you want to exercise more, eat healthier or finish that great American memoir sitting on your desk. But don’t forget to add volunteering to the mix. No matter what time of year, there are always plenty of fun, quick ways to create the good.
To help you get started, we've compiled 52 ideas to give back throughout the year! Come back to find a new idea every week or you can print out this handy checklist! And don’t forget to let us know what worked for you! Share your own experience—or more ideas—at Create the Good’s Facebook page.
1. Week 1: Share some homemade hot cocoa mix with an older friend down the street—try this slightly spicy mix from Alton Brown.
2. Week 2: Do you know someone in the neighborhood with a bad back? Offer to shovel his driveway or if a nice fire is in order, chop some wood.
3. Week 3: Go to Petfinder.com to find your nearest animal shelter. Then, donate an hour of your time to giving some local cuties some exercise!
4. Week 4: Is there a new person or family in your area? Invite them to dinner or offer to take them on a tour of their new neighborhood.
5. Week 5: Learn to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and act F.A.S.T. You may save a life.
6. Week 1: Ask your grandkid’s teacher to have the class write valentines to residents of local nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
7. Week 2: It’s Valentine’s Day! Make a local senior your valentine—bring a deck of cards to the nursing home and play Hearts or deliver a handwritten valentine to show you’re thinking of them.
8. Week 3: For President’s Day, volunteer at a local elementary school. Be prepared to share with children who your favorite president is—and why.
9. Week 4: Make sure the older residents in your neighborhood are still safe drivers. If you don’t feel they are, sit down with them and (nicely!) discuss some public transportation alternatives to their favorite destinations.
10. Week 1: As winter turns to spring, get your neighborhood moving again. Organize a walk, or “March,” to get people socializing and exercising in the fresh air.
11. Week 2: Bring the luck of the Irish to a new friend at a nursing home for St. Patrick’s Day. Chocolate coins done up in gold wrappers brings everyone delicious luck.
12. Week 3: Get the jump on spring cleaning season by donating old magazines and books to hospital waiting rooms. You can also take clothing or other household items to donation centers like the Salvation Army.
13. Week 4: Planning now for a family reunion this summer? Ask everyone to bring a donation to the gathering, or schedule an hour of volunteer time into the reunion fun.
14. Week 1: April Fools’! Play a positive prank on someone in need—take their garbage out to the curb or leave a bouquet on their doorstep. They’ll be pleasantly puzzled at who did the good deed!
15. Week 2: April showers bring May flowers! Offer to water a neighborhood senior’s plants while they’re away.
16. Week 3: April 15 is Tax Day. While money’s on your mind, teach your grandkid the basics about financial literacy.
17. Week 4: Earth Day is the perfect time to get started on a community garden. Grab some friends, supplies and sunlight and get those hands dirty!
18. Week 1: May is National Military Appreciation Month, so take time to help a military family in need. You can babysit, donate a welcome home kit, or just stop a soldier at the store to say thanks.
19. Week 2: On Mother’s Day, show your appreciation for moms around the neighborhood. New moms could use a few hours of childcare. Older ones might benefit from a quick Skype tutorial for face-to-face chats with family far away.
20. Week 3: May is also National Smile Month! Put a smile on someone’s face by putting together a basket of toothbrushes, toothpastes and flosses to donate to a local shelter or nursing home.
21. Week 4: Craft the Good: Decorate inexpensive terracotta pots then fill them with potting soil and a seed packet. Give these eco-friendly gifts to neighbors—it’s a great way to say thanks, introduce yourself, or teach kids about gardening.
22. Week 5: On Memorial Day, remember the men and women who gave their lives to the United States Armed Forces by cleaning up around a tombstone and bringing some flowers.
23. Week 1: Flag Day is next week! Prepare to help a senior commemorate their service by grabbing a flag, a pole and some mounting gear to hang up on their porch.
24. Week 2: Father’s Day is the perfect time to get outside to volunteer. Give young dads a day off with tickets to a ball game, or take a stroll with an older dad to hear all about what it was like when he was young.
25. Week 3: It’s wedding season! If you’re planning or attending weddings this summer, ask where the centerpieces are going after the event. Florists or families can often make arrangements to have them donated to local hospitals or nursing homes, hassle-free.
26. Week 4: June 23-26 is “Watermelon Seed-Spitting Week.” Keep the tradition alive: Take some delicious watermelon slices to a senior who may live alone and spend some time chatting (and spitting seeds) on their back porch.
27. Week 1: On July 4, declare independence from isolation. To make sure no one is alone, throw an ice cream social in your backyard and invite the whole neighborhood—or throw one at your local nursing home.
28. Week 2: Mon Dieu! July 14 is Bastille Day, the day when commoners stormed the jails to free their friends from imprisonment. Free an elderly, sick or disabled neighbor from a lonely house by taking them out for a drive or to lunch.
29. Week 3: Put together Extreme Heat Toolkits for at-risk seniors in your neighborhood or at local shelters. You’ll help prevent heat-related illnesses—and even death.
30. Week 4: Keep animals healthy, too! Offer your time to drive dogs and cats from your local animal shelter to and from their vaccination appointments.
31. Week 5: Live near a river or know of one that needs cleaning up? Check out CTG’s Clean Up A River How-To Guide. You can even start a full-fledged project of your own!
32. Week 1: August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, so pick up inexpensive sunglasses for children in your neighborhood. They’ll appreciate the favor when they’re playing outside in the sun.
33. Week 2: Help your friends and family start a recycling program in their homes by designating a separate trash can for recyclables. Post a list above it of what you can and cannot recycle. (And figure out where the local recycling center is for neighborhoods that don’t have a collection program.)
34. Week 3: Back-to-School Supply Drive: Go around the neighborhood collecting school supply donations, or use our How-To Guide to learn how to start your own drive for your grandkids’ schools.
35. Week 4: Free lemonade! In the dog days of summer, set up a free lemonade stand for a few hours in the afternoon to keep your neighborhood cool. You might even meet some new friends!
36. Week 1: September 2 is Labor Day. When you hit the beach on your three-day weekend, take an hour to pick up trash along the surf. Or if you’re planning a stay-cation, offer to walk an older neighbor’s pets or water plants while they’re away.
37. Week 2: 9/11 is the National Day of Service and Remembrance. Honor the anniversary of Patriot Day by doing good in your community: Hang a flag outside your house, or offer to hang one for the senior down the street who’s fought in a war.
38. Week 3: Put together a foster kit for animals finding a new home—a pet bed, a collar, a leash, a bag of food and some toys—and drop it off at your local animal shelter.
39. Week 4: September is the best month for hiking along tree-laden trails. While you’re there, plug into our ideas for preserving and cleaning our national parks.
40. Week 1: By October, the leaves are falling. Keep an older neighbor’s yard tidy by offering to rake leaves.
41. Week 2: Your neighbor’s dog that’s looking lonely in his backyard? Offer to go over with a tennis ball or treats and light up Spot’s day.
42. Week 3: In honor of Columbus Day, go exploring in your neighborhood for at least one older friend who could use some companionship.
43. Week 4: International Games Day is only a week away (November 2), so if you haven’t already, get prepared with a deck of cards or favorite board game to take to the local nursing home or assisted living facility. You’ll have a great time and make some new friends.
44. Week 5: Trick or treat! On Halloween, bring a big bowl of candy to a neighbor’s house and sit with them through the night, chatting and getting to know one another while handing out candy to costumed kids.
45. Week 1: Go around your neighborhood to make sure all your older friends have got their clocks adjusted for Daylight Savings Time.
46. Week 2: On Veterans Day, take time to volunteer at a local army hospital, or lay a wreath at a memorial. There may be some veterans at local nursing homes or in your neighborhood who would love to share a story or two.
47. Week 3: Help older neighbors prepare to send out their holiday cards. You can keep it simple by offering your time (and conversation) to help them address cards—or show them new online ways to send cards with websites like SnapFish or Shutterfly.
48. Week 4: November 28 is Thanksgiving. If you’re staying home for the holidays and have plenty to be thankful for, give a senior in your neighborhood who’s at risk of isolation something to be thankful for, too: an invitation to dinner.
50. Week 2: Craft the Good: Take an hour or two to create luminaries, wreaths or snow globes to give to older friends around the neighborhood or those in need.
51. Week 3: Start a tradition of service with your family. Whip up a meal for an older neighbor down the street or volunteer some holiday time at a shelter.
52. Week 4: Christmas is an ideal time to volunteer. Take some presents to Toys for Tots—or even to the family right across the street.
Start Your Own Project!
Not sure where to start but you know there's a need to fill in your community? Find all the details in this guide for becoming a pro at organizing service projects.
More How-To Guides
Create The Good has over 30 How-To Guides for starting your own service project. And don't forget to post your project here if you need helping hands!
Five Minute Ideas
Here are a few more quick ideas for helping out when you're short on time.
Write a letter to young men ages 10-16 addressing what it means to Be A Man in today's society. Topics are endless, but here are some suggestions to get you started: Balancing work and family Making mistakes Being a community member Good relationships The Be A Man project brings young men and men together through the sharing of stories and experiences. We encourage men to write letters to young men that explore what it means to be an engaged and caring man in today's society.