My SO is a volunteer coordinator at his office and they like to volunteer in the community every few weeks at least. For Earth Day, I *strongly hinted* that perhaps helping out our favorite local park would be the best way to go. So, last Saturday morning, we put on our gloves, grabbed our clippers and joined up with his coworkers at Tryon Creek State Park to pull ivy!
English Ivy, while pretty, is an invasive species here. If left unchecked, it would kill every plant and tree in these amazing forests. Over the past 12 years, volunteers have cleared 180 acres of ivy from Tryon Creek – one quarter of the park. And oh, what a difference! It takes a long time to clear, but for me, giving a few hours’ hard labor is a small price to pay for keeping our favorite park healthy.
There were 48 volunteers in the park that day, and the park’s volunteer coordinator was astounded how much was cleared! I guess we aren’t the only ones who love this park. At one point, we teamed up with the gals from the local Starbucks (who brought coffee for everyone!) and cleared several hundred square feet on the edge of a ravine! It was really steep and muddy, but we had such a fun time.
I know that even though the benefit to me lasted a few days (what a workout!) the benefit to the park will last generations. It’s wonderful to think that my little infant niece will be able to bring her kids and grandkids to this park someday to be shaded by the very trees we just saved!
If you feel passionate about a park in your town, or any local cause or organization, now is a great time to get involved! There are SO many great causes that need your help – and sometimes, you don’t even have to leave your computer to help out. If you’re curious about volunteer opportunities in your area, here are some great websites to help you get started!
VolunteerMatch.org: A great volunteering network sponsored by Target. Simply type in your zip code and a keyword, and you’re off!
Volunteer.gov: the best source for government-sponsored programs and volunteerism for national resources. Some even offer small stipends or accommodations for your service.
If charity knitting is your forte, here is a good resource for finding charities that accept knitted donations:
WoolWorks’ Charity List: state-by-state list of knit-friendly charities.
A great way to get involved is to call up your local hospital (especially if there’s an oncology or neo-natal unit), hospice or elder care facility, animal shelter, women’s or families’ shelter, homeless shelter, or any other local organization that helps people in your community, and ask if they need and would accept donations of knitted goods. Then, gather up a few friends and get those needles clicking!
Any time you lend a hand, the reward is so much greater than the effort. So get involved and volunteer! <