Summer is upon us, and even with sports camps, swimming holes, and family vacations, parents will inevitably be asked that dreaded question: “What are we going to do today?”
Luckily, Austin is hot with volunteer opportunities and events for family members of all ages to support during summer vacation. Get started with these 10 activities all around Austin that offer flexibility and the opportunity to volunteer multiple times.
Austin Energy Regional Science Festival
This smart festival is a competition for students from 23 school districts across a 12-county region. Organizers don’t list specific qualifications for general volunteers, but say they have to be comfortable working with students. Tasks include registering people, parking and unloading, setup, hanging ribbons, and working with judges.
Austin Pets Alive!
At Austin Pets Alive!, giving back is a family affair. In addition to helping feed, walk, and tuck in fur babies, volunteers can help with marketing, getting cats and dogs ready for adoption, and by being virtual foster parents. Those who want to work from home can respond to phone and email inquiries, provide temporary shelter for pets, or staff the Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender program helpline. Children as young as 12 are allowed to volunteer, but parents also have to be part of the orientation process, which costs $20 for youth (ages 12-17) and $30 for adults.
Central Texas Food Bank
Food insecurity is a major concern in Central Texas, and organizations dedicated to ending are always in need of even the youngest volunteers. Helpers as young as eight years old can lend a hand in the food bank’s warehouse or mobile pantry, while teens 15 or older can volunteer in the kitchen or garden. Check out the group’s FAQ section for more info on how to get involved.
City of Austin
The City of Austin may not the first place most people think of for volunteer opportunities, but it offers plenty of ways to get involved. Kids can pitch in at the public library, mark storm drains, lead community recycling efforts, and more. Find out more information on how to make the city a better place here.
Itching to tackle multiple volunteer projects at once? Generation SERVE is a volunteer hub that connects people who want to give back to 100 local nonprofits. Service opporunities include assembly projects, gardening, and making arts and crafts. There’s even a Little Helpers program for kids 3-5 years old and teen program. As part of its 10th birthday celebration, Generation SERVE is also hosting a Volunteer-A-Thon asking young folks to donate at least 10 hours of their time this season to a worthy cause. Parents can register their kids here.
Keep Austin Beautiful
Love a clean lake? Debris-free streets? Uncluttered paths on your hike? An army of volunteers are responsible for keeping the Capital City looking its best. Expand the pack by adopting a park, street, or neighborhood — it’s really up to you. The most helpful part: Keep Austin Beautiful will provide resources to make the community cleanup a success. Go here for more information about how to set it up.
Meals on Wheels Central Texas
Another local nonprofit addressing food insecurity is Meals on Wheels of Central Texas. Volunteers transport meals to some of the community’s most vulnerable populations, including homebound elderly individuals and people with disabilities. The help doesn’t stop there. Meals on Wheels also fights the isolation and the loneliness some clients experience. Volunteers have to be 18 years old, but the organization encourages parents to bring children along on the route. Not only are the visits educational for the kids, clients with far away families are very excited to see them.
We Are Blood
Donate blood. It’s easy. At We Are Blood, donors must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 115 pounds to do a whole blood donation, while 110 pounds is the minimum for a platelet donation. Volunteers, however, only need to be 16, and can pitch in by looking after donors in the canteen and by teaching community members about why donating is important. Volunteers can also help host mobile blood drives, something that is responsible for half of the organization’s donations, a rep tells CultureMap.
Undies for Everyone
This nonprofit has a motto anyone can get behind: “Everyone deserves the basic dignity of clean underwear.” To that end, the nonprofit is looking for help with packing undies and offers 12 opportunities to do that this summer. Volunteers also are encouraged to host a drive for the organization.
2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Spend the summer helping the Alzheimer’s Association plan for this event, which is scheduled for September 28. Volunteers can help in several ways, including recruiting teams for the walk, distributing materials for the event to the public, and landing sponsorships.
Other ways to give back
Families can give back just by adjusting their daily activities. Some ideas from Generation SERVE include starting a rain collection system, composting, or setting up a bird feeder and bath. The organization has plenty more ways to get kids out of the house, including visiting a senior to play games and wrapping gifts for folks in need.