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Here's an easy way to find volunteer opportunities in the Tri-Cities

Kristin Hunt organizes clothes at My Friends' Place teen homeless shelter

TRI-CITIES, wash. -- If you have some extra time on your hands this summer, try lending a hand to various nonprofits in the area. Luckily, there’s a one-stop-shop to find volunteering opportunities near you.

"I'm just doing a little organizing to make it a little easier for the kids to find clothes to wear," said Just Serve specialist Kristin Hunt.

Hunt made her way to My Friends Place today—a homeless shelter for teens. She spent some time volunteering to help the shelter in what way she could.

“You know, I really have a soft spot for these kids,” she said. “They're in a difficult situation.”

But Hunt wants folks to know there are hundreds of ways to volunteer and serve in the Tri-Cities, and they can easily be found on the website JustServe.org.

If you don't know where to start, you can visit the website, and type in your zip code.

"Serving in the community helps strengthen the community," Hunt said.

She says service looks like anything from cooking a meal to walking a dog for the humane society. She says volunteering in the summer is also a great way for kids to learn to help others from a young age.

"I think it's important for the community to be involved so they can see a different perspective” said Sienna Skeels, My Friends’ Place case manager. “It probably puts a little bit of warmth in their heart."

And for those who need the help, it doesn't go unnoticed.

“When people come and do what they do out of love and kindness, it's awesome,” said a resident of My Friends’ Place. “It shows that people do care.”

You can volunteer at My Friends Place and many other places by simply calling and signing up.

“Service will long be remembered by those who receive it and those who give it,” Hunt said.


Here is a list of ideas Hunt compiled:


My Friend's Place

• Prepare a meal to eat that day

• Cook & freeze meat

• Donate clothing - what's not used goes to Sails outlet (2nd hand store)

ARC of Tri-Cities Partners & Pals Summer Camp

• Ages 15-21 - Leaders in Training (paid position); Ages 12+ - Weekly service

• Pancake breakfast & Picnic volunteers

• Stuffed animals needed

Catholic Family & Child Services

• Yard work, hauling items, housework

World Relief

• Needs hats, gloves, scarves

• Donate your gently used toys

• Closed on Wednesdays

S.H.A.K.E.

• Donate school supplies (earn money from lemonade stand and buy some school supplies)

• Help sort school supplies - awesome for teenagers who can help lift boxes

St. Vincent Centers

• Children's clothing needed

Second Harvest

• Sort food - get a group of friends together. Usually a 2-3 hour time commitment. Ages 5+

• Groups as large as 25 welcome

Meals on Wheels

• Sign up to be a driver once a week. Take your children.

• Make anything crafts for clients - magnets, placemats, cards, flower pens, etc.

Blankets

• Can be donated to Project Linus, Project Warm Up

Music Volunteers

• Sing, play the piano at local adult care homes, Trios, Kadlec, etc.

Soul Soup

• Help prepare a meal for homeless & stay to eat with them

Sew, Knit, Crochet

• Beanies, scarves, etc. needed at various organizations

• Library - crochet around a tree

Project Warm Up

• Cut fabric squares

• Needs hats, scarves, fabric, egg cartons, yarn, canned food, sewing patterns, mattress pads, toiletries, baggies, sheets, purses/backpacks, hearing aids, eye glasses, slippers, etc.

Benton Franklin Humane Society

• Help care for animals. Walk dogs, snuggle cats

Hospice House

• Can deliver store bought cookies (no homemade)

Habitat for Humanity

• Help build homes one day at a time

As you clean out bedrooms, closets, etc. - ask yourself where you could donate the items. Some may be best for Goodwill/other donation sites. But your items in good condition, might be able to be donated to local places in need. It might require a bit more driving around, but good for your children to give to those in need. Talk about the organizations and their purposes in our community.

Find more info about each of these projects on www.justserve.org

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