Opportunity Knocking: Your Community Has Many Needs, and Volunteers Rise to Meet Them

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Most of us don’t worry about making it to the next day. “Most” is exactly the issue, though. There are those in our communities who face the quiet and terrifying realities of hunger, joblessness and lack of shelter. Fortunately, there are many ways that anyone can help. Donating your talents, time, resources or anything else you have to offer will impact the community around you.

“I used to perform with my flute in the middle of the lobby of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor,” said senior psychology major and Michigan State University Red Cross Club Vice President Ling Peng. “I distinctly remember performing when visitors began to gather around me. … Eventually, a visitor stepped up to the piano behind me and joined in performing. It was a great way of engaging the people around us … and letting people forget their troubles even temporarily.”

If you don’t have any idea where to start, here is a brief overview of some local opportunities:

Local shelters/service organizations

Haven House, City Rescue Mission of Lansing, Gateway Community Services and Volunteers of America are all local organizations that need volunteers. These organizations are dedicated to serving the homeless and needy by providing a safe place. Find more information at havenhouseel.org, bearescuer.org, voami.org and childandfamily.org. 

Food banks and kitchens

Greater Lansing Food Bank, South Side Community Kitchen and MSU Student Food Bank are all providers of food services for the less fortunate. They are constantly looking for volunteer aid. Find more information at greaterlansingfoodbank.org, southsidecommunitykitchen.org and foodbank.msu.edu. In addition to those, look for smaller operations happening in churches, schools or anywhere else in your community.

National service organizations

Many large service organizations such as the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity have local chapters or events. Visit their websites to find opportunities: redcross.org and habitat.org.

MSU volunteering clubs

For service-oriented Spartans, there are many volunteering clubs on MSU’s campus. Alternative Spartan Breaks is a great club for those who are looking for something different. The club organizes national and international service trips to aid those in need.

General volunteering

If none of the above options suit you, the city of East Lansing has many opportunities outside of those organizations. A full list of current projects can be found at cityofeastlansing.com.

Take a look around you and you’ll see the opportunity to give is always to be found somewhere close by. No matter who you are, you can always be a volunteer.