Finding Community Through Service

After 120 years in business, we know that a community is strongest when its people work together toward a common goal. But sometimes, it’s hard to know where—or how—to start. We're here to share our favorite tips for finding community service projects that enrich your life and the community you live in.

Give what you already have (and love)

There are a thousand ways to make a positive difference in your community, so if physical labor or cash donations aren’t your thing, that’s just fine. Your time, expertise, and enthusiasm are just as valuable as money in the right setting.

To get started, take a quick inventory of your skills and interests, and think about how they could be helpful. The skills you’ve picked up from basically any hobby, from cooking to rock climbing, are useful to a wide variety of volunteer and mentoring groups. Or, if you have certain professional skills—think IT, web and/or graphic design, bookkeeping, and bicycle or automotive repair—consider volunteering your services to people or nonprofit organizations that may not be able to afford them otherwise. If you’re short on time, some organizations accept new or gently used clothing, books, toys, games, and other household goods for redistribution to those who need them. (Just make sure that all items you donate are actually in good condition.)

Sharing something you’re already passionate about is the single best way to be useful. You’ll connect with the work—and with the people doing it—right away, which will keep you coming back.

Join existing groups

No matter where you live, chances are good that people have been doing the work you want to do for a very long time. All you have to do is find them.

Here in the Greater Sacramento  San Joaquin Valley, there are many wonderful organizations serving every aspect of the community, from scholarship and academic support programs to food banks. Getting involved with a local mutual aid organization is another great way to help.

Sports leagues are an underrated—and possibly surprising—resource for local volunteer opportunities. Professional, semi-pro, and amateur organizations alike are often deeply involved in their communities, and the many teams of the Greater Sacramento  San Joaquin Valley are no exception. No matter which sport you’re into, there’s a good chance your favorite team is already doing amazing volunteer work. If you want to get involved, check out the “Community” section of a team’s website. Most organizations list current projects they’re working on, as well as long term programs and community partnerships. It’s an easy, fun way to get involved.

Get the whole family involved

Community service is a great family activity. You’ll get to spend quality time together without the usual distractions and help people out at the same time. Plus, volunteering teaches kids teamwork and leadership skills that you don’t get anywhere else.

The holidays are also a wonderful time to get started. Many local organizations need extra volunteer power this time of year to help with donations, especially food banks and homeless shelters. Start with local organizations like Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, which both work to address hunger in the Greater Sacramento  San Joaquin Valley.

For more local suggestions, try searching on VolunteerMatch to find specific organizations in your area that match your areas of interest. You’re sure to find something the whole family can get into. Stick with it, and you’ll set your kids up for a lifetime of community-first work, wherever it may lead.