By Kaleigh Steigman
There is no doubt that volunteering is rewarding. Not only can you receive community service hours, and possible class credit for donating your time, but you also reap the benefits of various experiences, and the knowledge that you have helped something outside of yourself. It is especially rewarding to give your time to organizations directly in the Charlottesville area, as a happier community makes for happier people. During the summer, if you find yourself without anything to do, you certainly won’t regret volunteering.
Virginia Discovery Museum
The Virginia Discovery Museum is essentially a paradise for children located in the downtown mall (524 East Main Street). It includes various rooms, all with a theme that excites small minds, everything from arts and crafts to a fake miniature Panera Bread. The museum offers two types of volunteer opportunities for teens: a summer internship, and general volunteering. The duties of each position are similar, including tasks such as greeting, picking up after children, and assisting in camps, among others, but the internship requires a longer time commitment of twenty hours throughout the summer, and includes a certificate of service once all requirements are met. Also, those who offer their time receive free parking and day passes to the museum. For anyone who enjoys or thinks they might enjoy children, and enjoys gaining experience, the Discovery Museum is certainly worth checking out. Applications are available online and are due May 31, 2017.
The Charlottesville SPCA no kill shelter on 3355 Berkmar Dr is a truly remarkable place. Every year, they save hundreds of animal’s lives and help hundreds more find homes. If that alone is not enough incentive to give them some of your time, summer is ‘kitten season,’ meaning that their hallways are overflowing with kittens. Yes. You read that right. If you volunteer at the SPCA, you do have to complete some not so fun tasks, such as filing litter pans and checking plastic bags for holes, but ultimately, you get to spend time with tons of kittens and other cute animals for free. The staff is incredibly kind, which, when combined with rooms full of cats and dogs, makes the atmosphere very enjoyable. In order to volunteer at the SPCA, you must fill out an application that is available both online and on location, and attend an orientation. You must also commit to volunteering at least two shifts a month for three months. For any animal lover, it is truly worth it to donate your time to this organization in order to learn how much effort it takes to keep it running so smoothly, and to contribute to something outside of yourself. Plus, kitten season.
Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry
The Charlottesville Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry (2050 Lambs Rd) provides food for hundreds of hungry people in our community for no cost. If you help the organization itself, you are helping an amazing amount of people in our area have their next meal. Unlike the two previous organizations on this list, Loaves and Fishes doesn’t have an age or time requirement you must meet in order to help them. They are willing to take whatever help you are willing to offer. Tasks include organization, filling bags with food, and assisting clients. By assisting them, you will develop communication skills, and get a taste of the complexities of management. There is no application required to volunteer, and you can email them at email@example.com if you are interested.
The Habitat Store
A part of the larger Habitat for Humanity, an organization working to make housing available and affordable to everyone, the Habitat Store is a volunteer run hardware store. The proceeds of the store contribute to the overall mission of the organization. While the store sells furniture and construction pieces, people with any ability, from construction and graphic design to smiling and greeting, are helpful. Those who donate their time to the store emerge not only with new experiences and friends, but also new skills regarding building and management. If you are interested in volunteering at the Habitat Store, you can call the volunteer coordinator at (434) 293-6331. You will need to complete an orientation, which take place every Thursday and Saturday at 1:00 pm, before beginning.