By Mia “Lavender” Liem, Copy Editor

The easiest and most enjoyable way to contribute is to do something you truly feel passionate about. Sites such as Do Something and VolunteerMatch are a great way to start. Just enter your zip code and any keywords, and you can find a list of possible organizations to work with. Volunteering your time and talents is a great way to help others if you don’t have extra cash for donations.

Stick with your interests. Love animals? Volunteer to walk and play with the dogs at the animal shelter. Passionate about reading? Go to your local library and help shelve books or read to the kids. Have an interest in medicine? Help out as an orderly at the nearby hospital. Care about the environment? You can be part of a neighborhood or highway cleanup.

Look for well-known organizations. There are also a number of organizations that may cater to your interests. Peace Corps is a popular choice for those wanting to travel to other parts of the world. But if you plan to stay local, the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House are just a few options. Visit their websites to find the nearest location.

Think outside the box. Many smaller organizations are seeking skilled people to create web pages for them. This is your chance to revamp their image and create more public interest in the organization. You can also raise money to pay for the website itself if the organization is lacking funds.

Start your own nonprofit. Feeling ambitious? Want to promote a cause that is close to your heart? You can always start your own nonprofit. It will take a lot of work, but the rewards will be great. Talk to people who are heavily involved with existing nonprofits for tips on how to get started.

Take 2011 to contribute and feel good about yourself. It doesn’t take much … just a fraction of your time and your skills. And who knows – your volunteer experience could help you out in your career in the long run!

Photo credit: http://www.playworks.org/files/images/Volunteer.JPG

Sources:

Boys & Girls Clubs of America: http://www.bgca.org
Habitat for Humanity: http://www.habitat.org
The Humane Society of the United States: http://www.humanesociety.org/
American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/
The Salvation Army: http://www.salvationarmy.org/
Ronald McDonald House Charities: http://www.rmhc.org