Giving Back | Jacksonville.com

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Creative ways for small town residents to give back

Giving back to one's community is a great way for men and women to make use of their talents and foster strong towns and cities. Volunteering opportunities abound in big cities, but small town residents may not have as many options as they look for ways to give back.

Small town residents looking to give back may need to create their own opportunities if the options available to them do not suit their fancies.

• Contact local schools. Teachers, afterschool caregivers and coaches can always use some helping hands. Contact local schools to determine if there is any way to help out. Prospective volunteers might be able to read to young children, serve as assistant coaches for youngsters' sports teams or even help tend to playing fields. Small town school budgets tend to be stretched thin, so chances are local educators will welcome citizens looking to pitch in with open arms.

• Start a program through your place of employment. Another way for small town residents to give back to their communities is to begin a mentoring or internship program through their places of employment. Once their employers give the go-ahead, men and women can begin working with local high schools and/or colleges to develop programs that encourage youngsters to gain professional experience that can benefit them as they apply to college or graduate school or prepare to begin their own careers.

• Start a volunteering group. Small town residents without much access to volunteering programs can organize groups through their offices or neighborhoods. Organize groups willing to pitch in with charities such as Habitat for Humanity®. Group leaders can arrange transportation to work sites for members of the group while working as liaisons between their community groups and the organizations they choose to work with.

• Work with area hospitals. Similar to school districts, many hospitals would struggle to meet their missions of providing compassionate care if not for the contributions of volunteers. Contact area hospitals to learn about volunteering. Some may need volunteers to read to sick children, while others may need help keeping elderly patients company.

Small town residents may not have a wealth of volunteering opportunities at their disposal. But with a little creativity, such men and women can still give back to their communities.