This time of year, more than any other, we are often reminded to help those in need, to reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves. We can donate food and clothes. We can write checks. But one of the most important things we can donate is our time. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of some volunteer opportunities right here in Beaver County.

Habitat for Humanity Beaver County

Habitat for Humanity Beaver County’s mission is “to eliminate poverty housing by empowering people to change their lives.” Right here in our community, Habitat is building homes and rehabbing existing residences for those without the income to obtain adequate housing.

No matter what your skill set, there is a place for you here. Under the categories of “Serve on a Committee,” “Help Build It,” and “Share Your Skills,” there are 12 different positions available. Be it screening applicants, laboring at a construction site, answering phones in the office or sorting merchandise at the ReStore Thrift Store, there is a definite need for volunteers across the board.

Check out some of the completed houses and download the Volunteer Opportunities brochure at www.beavercountyhabitat.org, or call 724-846-1630 for further information.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Beaver County

Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Beaver County “offers year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.” They are currently recruiting for the following positions: coaches and management team members.

The organization offers training in soccer, volleyball, bowling, speed skating, basketball and aquatics. So all you athletes out there, call the local chapter at 724-775-0743 or visit www.specialolympicspa.org and find out how to get involved.

Adult Literacy Action of Penn State Beaver

For over 25 years, Adult Literacy Action has been helping adults in our community improve basic reading, writing, and math skills. The mission of the organization is “to foster education for all people through advocacy, research, training, and outreach, and to provide state-of-the-art instruction to under-educated adults so they may acquire the basic skills necessary to function in society.”

Programs are available in Family Literacy, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Education, and English for Speakers of Other Languages – and volunteers are an integral part of these services. Volunteers serve as tutors, either aiding in classrooms or one-on-one sessions, after completing an ALA training workshop.

Volunteers are also needed in other capacities, such as fundraising, recruitment, clerical tasks, public awareness, and special events. Please call 724-773-7810 if you would like to volunteer your time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Beaver County

Big Brothers Big Sisters is the “nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring network.” And right here in Beaver County, there are plenty of “Littles” waiting for volunteers to help shape their futures. Children, ages 6 through 18, facing some form of adversity, are matched with “Bigs,” adult volunteers tasked with building positive relationships with their little brothers and sisters.

Spending just a few hours a month with your Little – be it playing basketball, going bowling, or reading the same book and discussing it together – can help shape a child’s future for the better. For more information on the Beaver County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, please call 724-843-4600.

Beaver County Humane Society

Don’t forget that our four-legged friends can also benefit greatly from your time. The Humane Society has a number of volunteer opportunities – open to anyone 16 and older that completes the appropriate volunteer training course. BCHS welcomes, among other things, clerical help in the office, dog walkers, and general kennel help, including cleaning food bowls and doing laundry. Volunteers are also needed at off-site events, such as PetSmart Adopt-a-Thons and the annual Tails on the Trails Pet Walk.

Want to help right from your own home? Foster an animal! If you have the ability to open your home to an animal in need, you’re providing a safe and loving environment to help prepare the animal for its forever home. To find requirements for fostering animals, as well as info on volunteer opportunities and training classes, please visit www.beavercountyhumanesociety.org/volunteer or contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 724-775-5801.

Of course these are only a few of the opportunities available in our community. Check with your local hospitals and senior centers – you’ll find there are always people that need a helping hand if you just ask! Volunteering is not something to be taken lightly. It takes dedication – many of the opportunities listed here require applications and training courses. But the rewards, for both you and the recipient of your time, are immeasurable. You are acting on your concern for our community, and you are without a doubt making a difference in someone’s life.

So go on! Get out there and volunteer!

While not as gratifying as some of the other options mentioned, I am currently accepting volunteers to clean out and scrub my refrigerator, clean the kitty litter, and give the dogs their baths.