Making a Difference: Volunteering in Philly

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The City of Brotherly Love lives up to its name with its wonderful variety of volunteer opportunities. Working at soup kitchens, packing books for prisoners, sleeping outside to support homeless teens: there’s something for everyone to give in Philly!

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Philadelphia is not called The City of Brotherly Love for nothing — Philly is home to a great number of people, of all ages, volunteering together to make a difference. There are so many opportunities to share your time and talents with those in need! All you need is a willingness to help, and you can easily find a perfect volunteering match for you.

Work in a Kitchen

As in so many large cities, hunger and homelessness remain large problems in Philly. But here’s where you come in! Use your skills of cooking and hospitality to provide meals for the hungry at Project HOME, a great organization that also works to find permanent housing for those affected by homelessness. Broad Street Ministry, located in the heart of center city, is also always looking for folks to serve meals in their dining room, as well as sort the mail (lack of an address is a huge issue for the homeless, who cannot otherwise receive their benefits. BSM becomes their temporary address.)

Another fantastic place to roll up your sleeves and do some volunteering in the kitchen is Philadelphia’s Ronald McDonald House, the first of its kind in the nation. PRMH serves daily breakfast and dinner to up to 45 families at a time who are living there while their children are patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Help Kids and Teens

Speaking of little ones, children often suffer the loss of their possessions in home fires and similar tragedies — not to mention the plight of kids living in poverty. Cradles to Crayons distributes donated new clothes, books, and toys to children and families in need. Tap into the kid in you by volunteering at their warehouse in Conshohocken, counting the puzzle pieces and testing the batteries of donated toys. Fun and oh so helpful!

Teenagers are the invisible homeless in our cities. Many of them are running away from horrendous home situations, and see no alternative to the streets. There, they are in constant danger. Covenant House Philadelphia goes out on the streets of Philly every night, bringing these troubled teens inside for food, shelter, schooling, job training, and much more. Every year, Covenant House has a Sleep Out, when those volunteering sleep outdoors for a night, to raise money for, and awareness of, this problem.

Build a Home

Handy with a hammer? Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia is very active, partnering with hard-working, low-income prospective residents to build homes for themselves and their families. Bring a group of friends and spend a rewarding day doing construction for an awesome cause — the pride and self-sufficiency that comes with home ownership!

Help Those Behind Bars

Men and women in prison long for a fresh start. Books are key to a better future, whether it be getting a GED, or just learning during the idle hours behind bars. Books Through Bars in West Philadelphia serves this population. If you are volunteering at BTB, you will be selecting books from their library and packing them to be sent to correctional facilities all over the U.S. Yet another way to do good in Philly!

Add to this the many terrific charity runs, including the annual Race for the Cure, and you have a wealth of opportunities to give to the “City that Loves you Back.” So why not live here?

Image Source: Flickr/Sam Beebe

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Elise Seyfried is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia, PA. She is the author of two books of humorous spiritual essays, and a playwright (co-author of 15 plays for children). Her work regularly appears in the Chestnut Hill (PA) Local and The Word in Season (devotional). She has also written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Lutheran Digest, Guideposts magazine, Metropolis and The Wittenburg Door. Elise was the lyricist for the Stanley Drama Award-winning musical Flight, based on the life of Howard Hughes. Elise has served as publicist for the Lewes (DE) Chamber Music Festival, as well as the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville, ME.She is the mother of five children, and her family life is prominently featured in her writing. Elise's topics to date have included children/parenting issues, humor and spirituality. An avid cook, Elise also enjoys writing about food and dining. Since 2002, Elise has been Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ's Lutheran Church in Oreland, PA; previously, she worked for years as an actress. She blogs at www.eliseseyfried.blogspot.com.

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