Over the years we’ve connected so many young people to terrific volunteer opportunities with our amazing partners. So far, we’ve helped thousands of young people and their families give back to their communities and make a positive difference in the world. We do this by curating service projects and volunteer opportunities from our partners, sometimes helping them develop youth service programs from scratch.
Out of hundreds of activities, if you’ve ever wondered “where do I even begin?” with volunteering, we’ve curated a list of our 21 most popular activities of all time. These are our most visited and shared activities, and most can be done right from your own home! We’ve included some photos of our amazing young volunteers working on service projects from home across the country, and from past Create the Change™ Day events.
You can get started on any of these activities today! Follow the links to find out more about each activity and organization, and if you want to save these for later, create an account to add them to your favorites.
21. Start a Library for Other Kids! (The African Library Project)
National/International—The African Library Project changes lives book by book by organizing book drives and starting small libraries in rural African communities. You or your group can start your own library by collecting 1,000 books and raising $500.
20. Notes of Encouragement (My New Red Shoes)
San Francisco Bay Area—My New Red Shoes works to improve the quality of life and well-being for children and youth in the San Francisco Bay Area who are experiencing economic hardship by providing new shoes and clothing. Each pair of shoes and clothing gift card that they provide includes a hand-written and decorated card from a community member sending the recipient good wishes.
19. Color Kindness Project (Crayon Collection)
National—The Crayon Collection is dedicated to inspiring a commitment to environmental consciousness as well as the infusion of art education in underfunded schools. Their Color Kindness Challenge was inspired by the hard work of our frontline heroes during this unprecedented time. These notes of kindness express our gratitude to all those working on the frontlines.
18. Donate & Drop-Off Diapers (Beantown Baby Diaper Bank)
Boston (Lexington)—Diaper banks, like food banks, provide clean diapers to families in need, as diapers are not covered by any form of government assistance (i.e. SNAP or WIC). The majority of Beantown Baby Diaper Bank’s diaper supply relies on donations from young families, parent groups, preschools, schools, individuals, and companies that run diaper drives.
17. Be a Farm Volunteer (Sharing the Harvest)
Boston—Sharing The Harvest Community Farm brings hundreds of volunteers together to raise thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables for families in need. Volunteers help with all farm tasks from seeding to cultivating and harvesting crops.
16. Welcome Baskets [/Bags] (Hospitality Homes)
Boston—Hospitality Homes provides free short-term housing in volunteer host homes and donated apartments for families and friends of patients seeking care at Boston-area healthcare organizations. When families arrive at a host home for the first time from far away, they feel even more welcome and comfortable if they have the basics that they need for their stay upon their arrival. Collecting items for and assembling Welcome Baskets is a great activity for individuals and groups of all ages, and can be done any time of year.
15. Backpack Drive for the Homeless (St. Francis House)
Boston—For over 30 years, St. Francis House has welcomed poor and homeless men and women every day in the heart of downtown Boston. Without a place to call home, many people experiencing homelessness must carry their belongings with them at all times. By collecting backpacks for Boston’s homeless, you help to ensure that people in need are able to safely carry their clothes, food, medications and other essential items. The end of the school year is a great time to collect old backpacks!
14. Star in Your Own Video (Karma Rescue)
National/LA—Karma Rescue’s mission is to end economic euthanasia of pets and prevent shelter-overcrowding by providing life-saving aid to low income families and spay neuter services to under-served communities throughout Los Angeles. You can be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves – educate your community about humane animal treatment and how to make an immediate impact on the homeless animal overpopulation problem!
13. Animal Supply Drive (MSPCA)
Boston—The MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Centers take care of and find homes for thousands of homeless and unwanted animals each year. One way you can help animals at the MSPCA is through donation supply drives. It takes hundreds of pounds of food and supplies to feed and care for the many animals the MSPCA takes in each year. They are always in need of the items on our wish list and you can help them take care of the animals by asking those in your community to pick up an extra item or two on their next visit to the store.
12. Sewing Gift Bags (My New Red Shoes)
San Francisco Bay Area—Each pair of shoes and clothing gift card My New Red Shoes provides is packaged in a hand-sewn bag or pillowcase personalized by the volunteer who made it. They need thousands of bags each year, so your help is definitely needed!
11. Sorting & Selecting Food for Those in Need (The Harvest Food Pantry)
Boston (Cambridge)—The Harvest Food Pantry provides free grocery items and gently used clothing (at a greatly reduced price) to whomever is in need. Sort and count cans, dry goods, fruits & vegetables and more. Once the food has been sorted into bins, help clients select the foods they need throughout the Pantry.
10. Host a Toiletry Drive for Homeless Women (On the Rise)
Boston (Cambridge)—On The Rise creates a community where women have the relationships, safety and resources they need to move out of homelessness. Everyday items like soap, shampoo and toothpaste can be hard to access when you are homeless. By hosting a toiletry drive to collect everyday essentials, you can make life a little easier for homeless women in Cambridge.
9. Create Cards for Hope Kits (Hope and Comfort)
Boston—Hope and Comfort provides essential hygiene products to support and improve the health, self-esteem, and hygiene education of school-aged children and young adults in need within Greater Boston. Spread smiles by sharing your art or a few words of encouragement. Small cards made of a half-sheet of folded construction paper are inserted in their Hope Kits (a kit full of essential hygiene products). Each card features a drawing or a quick positive message.
8. Dog Biscuit Bake Sale (MSPCA)
Boston—Selling homemade dog cookies is a yummy way to help the animals. After baking, package the cookies in bags with colorful ribbon and sell them to your neighbors or at a local dog park. Make a donation to the animal shelter with the proceeds!
7. Make Jared Boxes for Kids (The Jared Box Project)
National—A Jared Box is a plastic shoe box filled with games, toys, activities and notes for a child undergoing medical treatment in a hospital. Boxes are easy, fun, and inexpensive to make and can lift the spirits of a child in a hospital near you. Whether you make one or more Jared Boxes, you can help entertain children going through a tough period in their young lives by giving the gift of play.
6. Sneaker Drive (Gotta Have Sole Foundation)
National—Gotta Have Sole Foundation was founded by Nichols Lowinger in 2010, when he was just 12-years old. They give brand new sneakers to children in homeless shelters across the United States so that they can go to school, play sports and have fun! Hold new sneaker and new sock drives at your school or after-school club (or online!). The new sneakers and socks will be given to children living in homeless shelters near your community. These sneakers and socks will make it easier for kids to have sneakers that fit them so they can go to school, play sports, and have fun outside.
5. Warm Hands Warm Hearts (Friends of Boston’s Homeless)
Boston—Friends of Boston’s Homeless helps people experiencing homelessness move from the streets and shelters to live peaceful independent lives in homes of their own. When it’s cold outside, homeless men and women are especially at risk. You can help reduce the danger to those on the streets during the winter through the Warm Hands Warm Hearts Apparel Drive. By participating in Warm Hands Warm Hearts, you will not only help keep our community’s neediest, most vulnerable citizens warm and safe, but you will also help maintain their dignity and comfort during the most difficult time of year.
4. Grocery Shopping for Seniors (Ethos)
Boston—Ethos helps seniors stay independent and live at home for as long as possible, providing in-home services and services in the community. Everyone needs access to healthy food, but getting to the grocery store on a regular basis can be a challenge for some seniors. By helping a senior do their grocery shopping every week (or two), you can help make sure they have the food they need to stay well and also offer the gift of your company on an ongoing basis.
3. Joke Book (Hospitality Homes)
Boston—Jokes make us laugh and laughter can help us get through the tough times a little easier. As you know, it’s not always easy to smile when you aren’t feeling your best. By creating a joke book for one of the patients Hospitality Homes serves, you may be just the extra something the doctor ordered!
2. Custom Card Making (Gotta Have Sole Foundation)
National—Gotta Have Sole is a group that gives brand new sneakers to kids who are living in homeless shelters. Your job is to make one-of-a-kind cards using markers, stickers, and pencils and then write a friendly message on each one.
And the number one most popular activity of all time is (*drumroll*)…
1. Make Holiday Cards for Homebound Seniors (St. Vincent Meals on Wheels)
LA—St. Vincent Meals on Wheels makes home-cooked meals for seniors and delivers them to their homes. Make holiday cards for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday of your choosing and bring a little cheer to these homebound seniors. St. Vincent Meals on Wheels will make sure they get delivered along with needed food and a friendly smile!