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Volunteering as Public Kinship

National Volunteer Week (April 17-23) is here, a time to rededicate ourselves to putting the 'public' in Public Kinship. Annually, Americans spend 8.8 billion hours volunteering for various social causes within their communities. Certainly, we’ve witnessed or benefited from their commitment with the ongoing pandemic. Their selfless contributions improve local communities across the nation, providing a source of inspiration to others while making the world a better place. Volunteerism strengthens social ties and pride by encouraging people to engage with their local community.

Honoring volunteers

Everyone depends on volunteers to support social needs and community service programs, including: fire and emergency response, homeless and animal shelters, food banks, community clean-up, and charity drives among others.

This year, National Volunteer Week coincides with Earth Day (April 22nd), so we should all take the time to recognize volunteers who have made a significant impact in environmental preservation efforts.

One inspiring example is Toys2Care. This organization collects and recycles old toys to reduce waste and give toys to children in need, and has benefited over 10,000 kids. Purpose-driven missions like this one are more than an inspiration – they’re also an investment in our children and environment. These are the actions that allow communities to thrive in times of need, and just one of the many reasons to thank our volunteers.

You can honor volunteers with a simple gesture of genuine gratitude. If you want to celebrate a volunteer in your community, you can:

· Help support their local school or church

· Donate to a cause they’re passionate about

· Dedicate your time to help them with current volunteer projects

Any way you choose to get involved will definitely benefit your community by helping fill a variety of service needs.

Getting involved

Participating in volunteer projects and events to promote social movements helps spread awareness and encourages activism to make our communities cleaner and safer for all. There are approximately 1.8 million non-profit organizations around the country – anyone can find a variety of volunteer opportunities.

Think about volunteering at your local food bank, animal shelter, or community events. Special events like community planting and clean-ups are a great way to volunteer and observe Earth Day. In DC, for instance, the Anacostia Boathouse Community Earth Day Cleanup (April 23) and the Hopkins Housing Complex Bridge Park Plot at THEARC Farm (April 22) are worthy causes to explore.

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