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This July 4, Celebrate and Cultivate Independence

Independence Day takes on a whole new meaning when you volunteer your time to make life easier for someone else. Here are a few ideas for helping out your fellow community members as you honor one of our nation’s treasured holidays.

Take “Independence” Literally.

At N4A.org, you can learn how to volunteer your time helping older adults live at home with greater independence. The program is actually specifically geared toward volunteers age 55 and up, and offers a number for free resources, including webinars, to help get you up to speed. Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, or FODAC, seeks volunteers for everything from sorting items at their thrift stores, to learning how to repair wheelchairs—all in an effort to provide durable medical equipment to families in need, at little no cost. If you know a caregiver, you can share how to give him or herself a much-deserved break with these tips for maintaining energy and avoiding burnout. And if you’d like to make a difference in the lives of those who’ve served, you can sign up and offer rides to local vets.

Bring the Kids into the Fold.

Inspire the next generation of volunteers by challenging your children, grandchildren or other local youth, to think up ways in which to help make someone’s life a little easier. A few ideas to get started… Canine Companions for Independence operates training centers and chapters across the country and multiple ways in which to volunteer. And on the local level, consider any neighbors who need help building or repairing a wheelchair ramp, or making their home more accessible.

Enjoy a Parade Without Leaving Your Street.

Independence Day is a time for block parties and big parades, but with a little time and coordination, you can plan a small-scale parade on your own street. Contact your local police or fire station to see if they’d be willing to lead your neighbors on a lap around the block, and gather all the kids and their families to dress up in the patriotic best.

Help the Newly-Free Find Critical Resources.

Many members of the prison population need extra help living independently upon return to society. You can help reduce recidivism rates by volunteering for a re-entry program located in your state.

Help Others Enjoy the Fireworks.

Most communities have a fireworks show or parade to commemorate the Independence Day holiday. You can find out how to help by checking the “events” section of your newspaper or contacting your local government officials. Event crews will likely need assistance with preparation and planning, crowd control, cleanup and event safety. Contact your local VFW to see if a veteran needs a ride to or from the show. And grab a few neighbors to multiply your efforts. You might even start a new, annual volunteer tradition.

Find more ways to help out on Independence Day, or any day, with this volunteer search.

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