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Volunteering in NYC: 7 Volunteer Opportunities to Explore

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Becoming a volunteer is a satisfying way to spend free time. When you're wondering where to volunteer, look no further than your local community. In New York City, community service opportunities are plentiful and diverse, offering countless options to do good and give back. Too busy? Even if you have a tight schedule, you can donate a few hours per week or month, or whatever works for you.

When you're ready to give back, volunteering in NYC knows no limit. Find a cause that you believe in, one that hits home personally, and volunteering will be even more meaningful. These seven local volunteer opportunities are just a sampling of the places to volunteer at in the Big Apple.

1. City Harvest

From nutrition education to office help, you'll have more than one way to lend your expertise at City Harvest. This dynamic organization helps feed New York's hungry by rescuing 150,000 pounds of food daily and serving 500 soup kitchens and food pantries in the five boroughs.

2. Coalition for the Homeless

Unfortunately, the number of homeless men, women, and children in New York City is at an all-time high, but you can make a difference by volunteering. Distribute food, clothing, and other necessities through the Grand Central Food Program. Become a shelter monitor (training required), or host a holiday toy drive at your place of work and give homeless children a Christmas that they wouldn't otherwise have.


A wiener dog licking another wiener dog

Image via ASPCA/Facebook

If volunteering with animals is more your speed, animal lovers can donate their free time to walking dogs, playing with cats, cleaning cages, and working with potential adopters, as well as fostering injured or sick shelter animals. The ASPCA was the first humane society in North America and continues to save animals and vehemently fight for the lives of our four-legged friends.

4. Ronald McDonald House

For a $35 donation per night, families with children undergoing cancer treatment have temporary lodging at this spacious headquarters on the Upper East Side. Assist families at the Ronald McDonald Family Room on the pediatric floor of NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in Brooklyn. Become a hospital outreach volunteer or help with one of the RMH's annual fundraising events. The RMH also has group volunteer opportunities, which is perfect for team building and getting more people involved.

5. NYPD Auxiliary Police

If you ever had a childhood dream of working in law enforcement but didn't follow through, or you've considered becoming a police officer for a career, here's your chance to test the waters. In New York City, you can support the NYPD, patrol the city, and help to deter crime. Assist during major events like parades, festivals, and concerts, when additional security is needed. And, yes, you will get to wear a uniform.

6. Big Apple Greeter

New York City is a huge place and can be intimidating to many tourists, especially on their first trip. Join the Big Apple Greeter program to welcome visitors to New York and show them around this amazing city. Share the magic and culture of NYC, as well as your personal stories and experiences with someone from another corner of the world. Greeters volunteer in all five boroughs and are paired based on the visitor's preferences.

7. Mentor NYC

If you enjoy teaching or have a nurturing side, Mentor NYC might be the ideal organization to dedicate some time to. Help students stay on track with their assignments and encourage them to attend school and reduce absenteeism, an ongoing issue in the New York City school system. Most of all, you can lend an ear, be a friend, and share advice. Becoming a mentor might be the most rewarding experience of your life, as you will be able to connect with a young person who requires guidance and stability.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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