6 things to do if you’re feeling charitable

It’s in our nature as socially conscious individuals to want to give back to the community. But the challenge of doing something charitable can quickly become over-burdening. There are, however, a number of organisations that offer the chance to contribute — in an impactful way — once a month, once every few months, or perhaps just once a year. The key is to associate yourself with one project (as opposed to many different ones) and go from there.

Pet Therapy
If you are the proud owner of an affectionate pet, you can share the love by taking your four-legged friend to visit patients in designated rest homes and hospitals near you. With isolation being a huge factor for elderly people, anecdotal evidence shows that people are energised, comforted and entertained by dog visitors. If participating in the Canine Friends experience is something that interests you, fill in the application form online. Following this, you and your pup will be interviewed, and, if suitable, asked to visit a place that is convenient to you on a semi-regular basis, generally committing several hours per month. Let’s face it — you always knew Fido had special powers.
www.caninefriends.org.nz

Bush Restoration
One for those with the environment in mind, on the second Sunday of each month, you can catch the ferry to Waiheke Island and spend the morning with the Newton Reserve conservation group planting natives in the winter and ridding the reserve of weeds in the summer. You need to have a good level of physical fitness to get involved but you’ll reap all the benefits from spending a morning outdoors with the aim of restoring and enhancing the original fauna and flora of Newton Reserve. After buying your own ferry ticket, you’ll meet the coordinator at the ferry building. Contact Volunteering Auckland below for more information.
www.volunteeringauckland.org.nz

Bellyful
Aiming to help families in need — particularly mothers with newborn babies — by providing them with hearty, home-cooked meals made by local members of their community, Bellyful delivers either lasagne, spaghetti bolognese or macaroni and cheese to families without ample support. Volunteers can partake on a casual basis whereby they’ll become responsible for making and delivering the frozen meals to those needing their ‘bellies filled’. Sign up with a local branch online to find out when the next cook-a-thon is. Here you can help prep the food, child mind or organise transportation for a few hours on a weekend.
www.bellyful.org.nz

Coastal Cleanups
If you’re passionate about the environment and keeping our shoreline pristine, partaking in a coastal clean-up is a one-off commitment that you can sign up for on almost any date that takes your fancy. They’re happening all the time and multi-award winning New Zealand charity Sustainable Coastlines is just one of the not-for-profit organisations behind it. Visit the website to either participate in a clean-up that’s already scheduled (you can allocate your available dates) or to organise your own. The group even have reusable sacks and gloves at the ready — you’ll certainly walk away from this job feeling satisfied.
www.sustainablecoastlines.org

Senior Services Programme
A study has shown that inadequate social relationships could be as bad for one’s health as smoking, The Salvation Army runs this programme whereby volunteers are matched with an elderly individual and are asked to spend 1-2 hours with them each week for an ongoing period. Although this is a prolonged commitment, potential volunteers will be handsomely rewarded by what they get back from the experience. Building a friendship and reducing someone’s loneliness and social isolation is a profoundly impactful thing to be able to do.
To get involved, call Lisa Fe’Ao on (09) 478 7567.

Hospice Help
There are many things you can do by getting in touch with a hospice. If you’re prepared to volunteer one day per month (which ends up being closer to 10 times a year) the Mercy Hospice is always in need of help in its internal shop — although it may not feel like much, it is immensely helpful. Otherwise, you can get in touch with event organiser Kahu Burns by emailing kahu.burns@mercyhospice.org.nz who is responsible for one-off events including Heroic Gardens whereby Aucklanders open their gardens to the public in February each year, as well as various projects that crop up around Christmas time.

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