Volunteering in San Diego

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According to Psychology Today, volunteering helps people establish strong relationships and gives them a sense of purpose, and volunteering is also associated with a longer and healthier lifespan. Dawn C. Carr writes that, “Volunteering serves to express and facilitate opportunities to carry out one’s sense of purpose. The very nature of volunteering means choosing to work without being paid for it. As a result, people choose to spend their time on issues they feel strongly about.” There’s a lot of different causes to spend your time advocating and volunteering for, and San Diego offers residents ample opportunities across the board. Whether you’d like to help protect the environment or lend a hand to those in need, you can always find a nonprofit that’s looking for some enthusiastic volunteers.

The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network, and the San Diego County Chapter is one of the largest and most active chapters in the world. The Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper coordinate beach cleanups three times a month. If you’re interested in getting involved, International Coastal Cleanup Day is coming up on on Saturday, September 16th. You can join Surfrider San Diego at Ocean Beach this year if you’d like to be a part of this international event.

If you just want to provide extra encouragement to some athletes as they attempt to push their physical limits, you can volunteer at a race. Volunteers at marathons, half marathons, and 5Ks hand out water and other nourishment to runners as they conquer some truly incredible physical feats, and you’ll also get a great view of the race. You’ll see start athletes as they pass, and you’ll be amazed by their speed and grace. You’ll also see a lot of runners struggling to keep going, and your enthusiasm and cheers will keep them going during their most difficult miles. It has been said that, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” Volunteering at a race offers a unique perspective of what the human body is capable of, and it may even inspire you to begin your journey as an athlete. You can sign up to volunteer at an upcoming race here. Be prepared to wake up early (races usually start at dawn on Saturday or Sunday).

If you have a few hours to commit to helping others in need, you can volunteer at the San Diego Food Bank. This local nonprofit is tackling the issue of hunger and food insecurity in San Diego county. According to the San Diego Food Bank, “The face of hunger in San Diego has changed. Many people associate the Food Bank with those who are homeless, but the majority of the people we feed are low-income individuals and families who have homes but struggle daily to put food on the table. And increasingly in this tough economic climate middle class families are now seeking help from the Food Bank. “Of San Diego County’s 3.1 million residents, 467,054 people live in poverty – that’s 14.7% of the population of San Diego County. Of this number, 136,124 are children. These individuals face “food insecurity” which means that little to no food is available at home, and often they will not know how they will get their next meal.

The San Diego Food Bank relies on individuals and volunteer groups to help in their warehouse, at food distribution sites, and at Food Bank events. You can volunteer one time, or on a regular basis. Each shift lasts about three hours and involves a variety of projects and tasks.

We hope you consider volunteering your time, energy, or resources to a cause that is near and dear to your heart. You can also visit VolunteerMatch to find more opportunities in your neighborhood.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected].

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