With the holidays upon us, we are once again nudged to step away from our busy lives and see how we can help others. While we should be giving back year-round, there’s still no better time to start than now. Luckily, there are ample ways to volunteer and give back to the community in the Bay Area. Whether you have just a few hours or a few days, you can get involved with something that interests you in a snap.
Volunteering isn’t only helpful for others. Studies show that giving back can be beneficial for our own well-being as well. Focusing on something or someone else reduces stress and increases both self-confidence and brain function. Volunteering can also help you feel connected to your community, make new friends and get active in the process.
Finding a way to give some of your time to help our environment and community doesn’t have to be hard. Here are our favorite avenues for giving back to the Bay Area.
1. Volunteer with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
One of our favorite ways as a company to get together and give back at the same time is by volunteering with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Not only do these opportunities help benefit the important natural areas so dear to us, but we always have a good time while we’re at it too.
Just recently, the Incredible Adventures crew spent a morning at Muir Woods getting our hands dirty and helping clean up the under-appreciated but always important boardwalks. These boardwalks through the park not only provide a nice terrain for visitors, but they also are crucial for protecting the coastal redwoods which we all cherish so much. In order to keep these boardwalks in good condition and safe for visitors, they must be swept and cleaned regularly, which is a large undertaking for anyone.
Volunteering with the G.G.N.R.A can offer opportunities from curb painting to beach cleanup, but ‘deck flossing’ was both a fun and satisfying activity. With the use of a sharp flossing tool, we dug all of the debris from the trees out from in between the wooden planks. This way, the rain water can drain to the root systems down below and the wooden boardwalks can stay in good condition. After digging up all the “duff,” we swept the area to provide a clear and non-slippery surface for all the visitors to the woods.
If you’re looking for a group volunteer activity, we can’t recommend working with the G.G.N.R.A enough!
2. Help out at the SF Food Bank
With a mission to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin, the SF Food Bank could use volunteer help more than ever. Currently, 141,000 people count on the the food bank each week. From morning snacks for low-income students to home delivered groceries for seniors, the food bank plays a critical role in keeping hunger at bay in our community.
It’s also extremely easy to plan your visit. With the ease of the online calendar, choose an available shift any day of the week in one of their two locations. Shifts typically last for two hours and involve sorting and packaging food. The food bank also offers seasonal opportunities and most events accept children.
3. Donate to a shelter for holiday meals
Don’t currently have the time to choose and attend a volunteer event? One easy way to give back is by donating to Bay Area Rescue Mission so they can provide meals for those in need, especially over the holiday season. All it takes is $2.05 to feed a hungry person, so donating $50 provides 24 meals and care for those in need.
Bay Area Rescue Mission is a non-profit and you can make these donations online through PayPal or over the phone.
4. Help some furry friends with Family Dog Rescue
Our furry friends need some care this holiday season too. With the help of volunteers, Family Dog Rescue is able to rescue over 1,000 dogs per year. If you’re an animal lover, this may be the most fun you could have giving back. All first-time volunteers will need to attend a short training program before beginning but after that you’re free to help by walking, grooming, training and playing with the dogs.
5. Find more creative options with Hands On Bay Area
If you’re looking for something different to try, or a volunteer outing that’s more unique, Hands On Bay Area has a plethora of option to choose from. Whether it’s gardening or trail building, their volunteer calendar is bound to have something you’re interested in.
Hands On Bay Area also organizes volunteer events for groups and companies, so you’ll be able to give back regardless of your group size.
Whatever you decide to do, your efforts will go a long way to make sure we are taking care of this wonderful city and the residents that call it home, regardless of the season.