With the new year here, perhaps you are considering ways to start this decade with intention.
We think giving back is a great place to start. Here are five Tucson organizations that you can help serve our community.
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona does a lot to help people with their access to food— whether that's through meals for school kids or produce for families. You can help them do that. The food bank has both long and short term volunteer opportunities. Long-term volunteers can help people check in for their food box or work at a farmers market or in administration positions, says Stacy Oliver, the volunteer services manager for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. To be a long-term volunteer, you must go through orientation.
Less lengthy commitments can include helping pack emergency food boxes or package produce and other groceries. There are also opportunities to help plate meals or volunteer at Las Milpitas Community Farm, 2405 S. Cottonwood Lane. Short-term volunteer opportunities are ideal for anyone 16 and older, Oliver says.
If you'd like to volunteer with younger children, the food bank organizes regular family days for families with kids between the ages of 6-15.
Pima County Public Library
If you love books and want to support all of the other wonderful things your local library does, volunteer at one of the Pima County Public Library branches. Volunteers can help in a ton of ways. Here's a list from Holly Schaffer, the community relations manager for the library system.
Volunteers do the work of "shelving and sorting books, delivering books to shelters and the homebound on the Bookbike or with the Books on Wheels program, helping kids learn to read, helping the Seed Library sort through donated seeds, helping with the Summer Reading Program and joining our Social Media Ambassador group," Schaffer writes in an email.
Books on Wheels volunteers will help select library books that get delivered monthly to people who can't visit the library in person. To volunteer with that program contact the Himmel Park Library, the Joel D. Valdez Main Library or the Murphy-Wilmot Library.
Bookbike volunteers give out free books, library cards and more. To volunteer, contact one of these libraries: Joel D. Valdez Main Library, the Eckstrom-Columbus Library, and the Sam Lena-South Tucson Library. Go here to check out the Bookbike's current stops.
The age requirement to volunteer at a library is 14, and teens can also help with the 101Space and the Teen Advisory Board.
Contact the library branch where you're interested in volunteering to make sure there is a need, and then fill out the application online. You can do that here.
To learn about volunteering at a library, go here.
Iskashitaa Refugee Network
You can make friends with refugees new to Tucson and help harvest food around the city.
"Iskashitaa works to restore the community and dignity to refugees who have lost that," says Kate Jewett-Williams, the volunteer coordinator. "Volunteers who are not refugees get to engage the refugee volunteers. ... We pick fruit together, so they have a place to work and earn their own food. A lot of it is just meeting a refugee and being friends with someone who is brand new to this community."
If you're interested in volunteering as an individual, you can join the weekly harvest on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet at 1406. E. Grant Road and carpool to the site together.
Groups can schedule special harvests.
Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary
Help care for unwanted and abandoned kitties. Volunteers at Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary can help with shelter work, which includes scooping litter boxes, doing dishes and cleaning up after the cats, along with some medical tasks such as moving and handling sick cats, says Karina Levine, the volunteer coordinator for Hermitage.
The shelter also sometimes needs help with administrative tasks and the occasional event.
And then, of course, you can socialize with the kitties. That's one of the most popular jobs, Levine says.
Volunteers can apply online and then go through an orientation. Kids ages 13-15 can volunteer if parents or guardians volunteer with them, and older teens can volunteer alone with parent permission.
Go here for more information.
Habitat for Humanity Tucson
Even if you don't have any construction skills, you can help Habitat for Humanity Tucson build homes.
Both individuals and groups can help on construction sites, where staff and other volunteers can show what needs to be done.
"We would also love volunteers with skills in the construction trade," says Gina Hansen, the volunteer resources manager for Habitat for Humanity Tucson.
Volunteers can pick a 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift to work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday and should go through orientation. Teenagers volunteering on a construction site must be 16 and have parent permission.
You can also select to help in the HabiStore.