As volunteering gains popularity in many communities across the U.S. there are many opportunities that continue to be overlooked and are always in need of a helping hand. Looking for more volunteering opportunities in your community or are thinking of volunteering for the first time? Consider some of these opportunities:

Donating Blood

Does a blood drive come to your community every couple of months? Maybe you’ve been too busy to donate blood and thought, “Maybe next time” or assume that there are enough people giving blood. One of the biggest challenges that the Red Cross faces is that potential donors assume that the Red Cross is stocked.

Think of it this way, if the Red Cross is hosting a blood drive in your area, they need blood. A blood donation only keeps for a certain amount of time, so there’s always a need for more. It’s an easy and life saving volunteering opportunity.

Animal Shelters

Over 7 million animals live in animal shelters across the United States. While volunteering at a shelter is popular, there’s always a need for more volunteers. Most shelters rely and run on donations from their community.

Whether you stop in a few days a month to walk a dog, pet a cat, or help clean out a kennel, you are helping dedicated (and probably underpaid) staff. You are also helping to improve the life of an animal who is waiting for a forever home.

Political Campaigns

If you are passionate about politics, you know it’s important to keep voters informed year round, not just during a big election. Many people don’t know what’s going on in their community and you can help them gain a better understanding. Whether you are helping people in your community register to vote or help counting ballots, volunteers are always needed.

Food Pantries and Food Kitchens

The USDA reports that millions of adults and children live in a food-secure household, which means they don’t have an adequate supply of food part of the year or throughout the year. As long as these statistics remain, there are always volunteering opportunities available.

Did an organization recently run a food drive in your community? While that probably boosted the local food pantry a bit, a food pantry or food kitchen always needs help. Whether you start collecting food and donating on a regular basis or help to prepare and serve meals, you are helping to keep families fed in your community.

Mentoring Programs

Many children, from young to adolescence, don’t have a positive or healthy role model to look up to or trust. Mentoring is an excellent volunteering opportunity that some people overlook, even though there’s always a need.

Check with your local YMCA or other similar organizations in your community to see how you can get involved in a mentoring program. Whether you “adopt” a mentee or you offer to help out at special events, there’s a good chance your help won’t be turned down.