Summer is upon us, and even with sports camps, swimming holes, and family vacations, parents will inevitably be asked that dreaded question: "What are we going to do today?"
Luckily, Houston is hot with volunteer opportunities and events for family members of all ages to support during summer vacation. Get started with these 10 activities all around Houston that offer flexibility and the opportunity to volunteer multiple times.
Whether it's with the Houston Humane Society, Houston SPCA, BARC Animal Shelter, Citizens for Animal Protection — take your pick — giving back is a family affair. In addition to helping feed, walk, and tuck in fur babies, volunteers can help with marketing, getting cats and dogs ready for adoption, and by being virtual foster parents. Age requirements for volunteers vary by organization.
City of Houston
The City of Houston may not the first place most people think of for volunteer opportunities, but it offers plenty of ways to get involved. Families can pitch in with Hurricane Harvey recovery, prairie and wetland restoration, cleaning buildings and facilities, and more. Find out more information on how to make the city a better place here.
Dec My Room
This organization makes the most out of a difficult situation. Dec My Room volunteers do just that for children staying in the hospital for an extended period of time. Volunteers can be as young as school age. Opportunities like these can foster long-lasting friendships. Learn more here.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center
Donate blood. It's easy. At Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, donors must be at least 16 years old. Volunteers, however, only need to be 12, and can pitch in with blood drives, community events, advocacy, work, office support, and more. Go here for more information.
Houston Food Bank
Food insecurity is a major concern in Houston, and organizations dedicated to ending are always in need of even the youngest volunteers. Helpers as young as six years old can lend a hand in the food bank's warehouse, while teens 16 or older can volunteer in the kitchen. Check out the group's volunteer page for more info on how to get involved.
Houston Habitat for Humanity
Give back by literally making a place for a fellow Houstonian in need to call home. Volunteers can be as young as 16, but they and 17-year-olds have to be accompanied by an adult. They may help with construction but can't use power tools or perform roof work. No construction experience required. Learn more here.
Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County
Another nonprofit addressing food insecurity is Meals on Wheels. Volunteers transport meals to some of the community's most vulnerable populations, homebound elderly citizens and people with disabilities. The help doesn't stop there. Meals on Wheels also fights the isolation and the loneliness some clients experience. Volunteers have to be 18 years old, but the organization encourages parents to bring children along on the route. Not only are the visits educational for the kids, clients with far away families would be excited to see them.
Keep Houston Beautiful
Love a clean lake? Debris-free streets? Uncluttered paths on your hike? An army of volunteers are responsible for keeping the Bayou City looking its best. Expand the pack by adopting a park, street, or neighborhood — it's really up to you. Go here for more information about how to get involved.
Undies for Everyone
This nonprofit has a motto anyone can get behind: "Everyone deserves the basic dignity of clean underwear." To that end, the nonprofit is looking for help with packing undies and offers 12 opportunities to do that this summer. Volunteers also are encouraged to host a drive for the organization.
2019 Walk to End Alzheimer's
Spend the summer helping the Alzheimer's Association plan for this event, which is scheduled for November 2. Volunteers can help in several ways, including recruiting teams for the walk, distributing materials for the event to the public, and landing sponsorships.
Other ways to give back
Families can give back just by adjusting their daily activities. Some ideas include starting a rain collection system, composting, or setting up a bird feeder and bath.