Living

How to volunteer from home

Can’t find time to volunteer? Tips for giving back to your community from the comfort of your home

You don’t have to start a non-profit or volunteer overseas to feel like you’re making a difference. Let’s face it, not many of us have that kind of limitless time. Yet, even the busiest of us can donate some of our channel flipping hours to a good cause. We’ve listed seven ideas for how to volunteer from the comfort of your home:

Train a guide dog
Welcome a seeing eye puppy into your home. The non-profit Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind offers a Puppy Walking Program that allows volunteer families to raise a young pup for 12-18 months. The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides also hosts a similar project. Volunteers help socialize puppies during their formative years and provide a loving family environment until they’re ready for formal dog guide training.

Knit blankets
Why not spend eight minutes a day knitting on the couch while you watch TV? If you did this everyday for a few months you would have enough squares knitted to form a blanket that can be donated to your local chapter of Blankets for Canada. They provide instructions for knitting 8 x 8 inch squares together to make a 48 x 64 inch blanket. The blankets are then donated to various charitable organizations and shelters. Victoria’s Quilts Canada also enlists volunteers to quilt together as a team and donate the results to cancer patients across Canada.

Become a virtual volunteer
Join the latest trend in altruism and become a virtual volunteer. Charityvillage.com and Volunteer Canada have databases and resources to help you find an online cause that could use your talents. Or get started by visiting UNV Online Volunteering to help the United Nations by contributing your skills online – anything from writing skills, translation, IT development and design abilities are needed for their development programs.

Sponsor a child
Plan Canada’s sponsor a child program is an easy way to help children worldwide by donating a dollar each day. You can support either a boy or girl in a country of your choosing. A photograph of the child is sent to you along with information about their family and community. You’ll be able to send and receive letters and cards, plus you’ll receive yearly updates on how your donations are helping to improve your sponsored child’s life.

Write for rights
Join Amnesty International Canada’s Urgent Action Network! of 2000-plus Canadians who write letters of action to defend human rights worldwide. You can sign up via email and receive information each month about a specific international issue that needs your letter of appeal.

Save the earth from home
The One Million Acts of Green initiative has already surpassed one million acts only months after it was kick started. By performing small acts of green at home you can keep the momentum going by planting a neighbourhood compost, installing a thermostat or changing your light bulbs. Log your results to track your total acts and greenhouse gases saved.

Shop and sell for a cause
Want to get rid of your closet clutter on Ebay? Sell it and donate your profits to GlobalGiving. You can choose to donate anywhere from 10-100% of the proceeds to a global charity of your choice. You can also buy items and know that a percentage of the profits are earmarked for charity. Projects include sending children in India to school for a year and building learning centres for rural Afghan women.