7 Ways To Start Volunteering

Get started on how to give back to society!

By Balvinder Sandhu      25 May 2018

There are many ways to offer a helping hand to those in need. While cash donations are often welcomed, a human touch can be priceless. One way is by volunteering with the Community Services Club at SAFRA, which would allow you to impact the lives of the less fortunate through various activities such as visits and outdoor excursions. By participating in SAFRA’s annual Swim for Hope each October, you can help raise awareness and funds for beneficiaries. At the same time, you promote the importance of an active lifestyle by swimming laps in the pool with friends and family. So if you’ve always wanted to help others but do not know how, here are more ways to get started.

Furry Care

It’s not just humans who need love and concern. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Singapore (www.spca.org.sg) welcomes volunteers to help with anything from cleaning animal shelters to dog-walking. You can also walk or groom dogs with Action for Singapore Dogs (asdsingapore.com), or even learn how to foster one. Meanwhile, cat lovers can play with felines and keep their living spaces clean by volunteering with the Love Kuching Project (www.lovekuchingproject.org). If you’re interested in broader animal welfare issues, you can approach the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society – better known as ACRES (www.acres.org.sg) – to help with efforts such as fundraising or caring for animals brought in through their wildlife rescue missions.

Befriend the elderly

You can really make a difference in the lives of the elderly by interacting with them. Lions Befrienders (www.lionsbefrienders.org.sg) invites volunteers to conduct weekly home visits so that senior citizens will feel less lonely. However, you must be able to commit on a long-term basis, and be willing to put in the time and effort to interact. In appreciation of volunteers’ efforts, the organisation often holds gatherings for volunteers, and organises an annual awards and thank-you dinner.

Recycle Your Stuff

There’s no need to throw away old clothes or unwanted furniture – you can donate them to organisations that recycle them instead. Outfits such as the Red Cross and The Salvation Army sell items that are in too-good-to-discard condition at their thrift stores across Singapore. These include clothes, furniture, books, toys and other household items. You can also bring clothes that are too good to dispense with to any H&M store in Singapore. The company’s global garment collecting initiative promotes textile recycling so they don’t end up in landfills, thus reducing waste. In case you were wondering, it doesn’t matter what your clothes look like or what size they are, as the company either markets them as second-hand goods or they’re reprocessed as textile fibres or insulation materials.

Help Migrant Workers

Make a difference in the often invisible people of our lives by offering your time to Transient Workers Count Too (http://twc2.org.sg). You can provide office support, organise outings for workers, distribute flyers, or even accompany them to medical appointments. Volunteers are expected to remain committed for at least three consecutive months. Another organisation, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (www.home.org.sg), is a charity that provides assistance to migrant workers, dealing with issues such as wage theft, work injuries, poor living conditions and abuse. You can donate money, unopened food/toiletries and household items for its shelter. If you wish to volunteer, you may assist with fundraising, organising activities and befriending workers. A commitment of at least six months is preferred.

Help Ex-offenders

The Singapore After-Care Association (SACA, www.saca.org.sg) provides welfare and rehabilitation services for discharged offenders and their families. Their Volunteer After-Care Programme involves befriending offenders/ex-offenders and their families, including visiting the “clients” (as they are referred to) before their release to build rapport and discuss post-release plans. Befrienders also work with a client’s family members to address issues that may potentially affect his or her return to society. Training will be provided to volunteers.

Donate Blood

Did you know that you could save three lives by sparing just 60 minutes of your time? This is the impact that donating blood can have. All you have to do is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make a donation once every three months. The Health Sciences Authority operates blood banks in Outram Park, Dhoby Ghaut, Woodlands and Jurong (Westgate Tower). There are also community blood drives that regularly pop up all over the island. Check out the Red Cross Singapore website (www.redcross.sg) for dates and venues. If you don’t qualify as a blood donor due to health reasons, you can make a monetary donation instead to the Red Cross, or organise a fundraiser.

Donate Food Items

The Food Bank Singapore (www.foodbank.sg) is a charity that provides food to people and organisations that need it. To support them, you can donate items such as canned food or dried goods at their bank boxes located islandwide. You can also help host a food drive or volunteer in various roles, such as food bank van driver, delivery assistant, photographer, chef or social media campaigner – there are plenty of openings. If you like helping with preparing, collecting or delivering food, Willing Hearts (www.willinghearts.org.sg) is another organisation that welcomes volunteers, as it operates a soup kitchen 365 days a year.