The benefits of volunteering affect more than just your community, they affect your life and the lives of your children as well. Volunteering teaches children whole new skill sets, helps them make friends and provides a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Volunteer at some of the best bets in giving back, and make a difference with your family today.

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Hours: volunteer hours vary by location

At the Washington Humane Society, volunteers provide much-needed care and support for the D.C. area’s forgotten and neglected pets. In addition, volunteers participate and assist with special fundraising events, such as Fashion for Paws and Bark Ball. The organization also provides educational opportunities at which volunteers speak to local elementary school students about compassion for animals and animal abuse. Children clean up the animals’ living quarters, spend time with cats and walk dogs. The organization also teaches veterinary skills and provides internship opportunities for older children.

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Hours: volunteer hours vary by duty

Meals on Wheels provides meals to area senior citizens who face limited mobility as well as those who are in need. According to the organization, more than 7.5 million American seniors face the threat of hunger. The organization supports initiatives including Meals for Mom, the Rural Initiative and Emergency Preparedness. Volunteers help prepare and deliver food, provide office support, organize and coordinate fundraisers and special events and provide assistance at senior centers. Furthermore, volunteers make regular phone calls to seniors to build a friendship as well as to ensure they’re OK at home.

Related: Best Resources for Special Needs Families in Washington, D.C.

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Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail
P.O. Box 30703
Bethesda, MD 20824
(202) 234-4874

Hours: first Wed every month 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; additional hours available

The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail is an all-volunteer organization whose goal is to help keep the trail clear of garbage, ivy and weeds, maintain trail safety, and incorporate amenities such as benches, water fountains and information kiosks along the route of the trail. Volunteers help maintain the organization’s website, publish a newsletter and raise funds for trail improvements. Volunteers also help patrol the trail, providing information and assistance as well as call Park Rangers and Police, if necessary. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in the organization’s monthly board meetings, at which they may learn about the organization and discover additional volunteer opportunities that best suit their skills and abilities.

Hours: vary seasonally. Click here for schedules.

At the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library volunteers can sign up and be a library helper, tutor students with disabilities or teach computer classes. The library also offers periodic volunteer opportunities including summer and fall reading programs. Encourage your teenager to sign up for Youth202, a group that teaches radio production skills and keeps teens informed about local and international issues. Many volunteer opportunities come with free training; the teen program offers a stipend. The DC Public Library system has branches within 24 neighborhoods. Volunteer opportunities may vary per location.

Related: Best Schools for Young Artists in the DC Area

Hours: vary. Click here to learn how to be a volunteer.

Help save the life of someone who is contemplating suicide with this unique online crisis intervention organization. Run entirely through an online instant messaging service, IMAlive volunteers provide those who use the service with information regarding local crisis prevention centers and offer guidance and support to help anyone going through troubling times. Though no formal schooling or degree is needed to become a volunteer, training is required and provided online through the organization. After training is complete, volunteers receive certification from a licensed clinician. Volunteers range in age, from as young as 16 to more than 80 years old.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at


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