Northfield Shares wants to encourage as many community members as possible to volunteer and make an impact. Here is a list of ideas to help you start or build on your experience as a volunteer, no matter the time of year.
- January 6: Surprise a friend or relative with a Happy New Year call. Take 10 minutes to ask if they have any New Year’s resolutions, and discuss them together.
- January 15: During the long(er) winter days, take time to learn to knit a simple lap blanket or prayer shawl for someone you are thankful for. Time will fly if you work with a Circle of Service, and recipients of such blankets often feel wrapped in the love of the person who made the blanket.
- January 17: Use a reusable lunch box instead of a paper bag to cut down on waste!
- January 20: Do some students need extra help studying for finals? Reach out to younger students and offer to help organize a study schedule, or tutor them in tougher subjects to help them through finals season.
- January 28: Do you know where the leftover food at your school’s cafeteria goes? Ask someone who works in the lunchroom or an administrator, and research the possibility of donating leftover food to a shelter or the area’s Food Shelf.
- General: If your birthday or a friend’s birthday is around this time, celebrate by asking friends to donate money to a cause or charity instead of buying gifts.
- February 2: Bring reusable bags when you’re out shopping to cut down on the use of plastic bags.
- February 14: Send a homemade valentine to someone you care about.
- February 21: Create an hourlong “blackout” time to encourage your family or friends to be together. Put phones, iPads and laptops in a basket and gather around a fire or candles to enjoy each other’s company rather than staring at a screen.
- February 26: Does your school, home or workplace work to actively recycle? When you hold events, are there separate receptacles for trash and recycling? Work to provide both options during wintertime gatherings to cut down on unnecessary waste.
- General: Students or children, in the cold, often dull month of March, surprise your parents or neighbors by offering to babysit a sibling or friend. This allows the adults to take some time to relax and be together.
- General: Do you or your friends have unused makeup, hair products or body products that are taking up space in your bathroom? Take 10 minutes to clean out your cabinets and donate the products to a women’s shelter nearby, such as the HOPE Center in Faribault.
- March 3: Attend a Northfield City Council meeting at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers at 801 Washington Street. Find out what the pertinent issues in your community are to remain an informed, updated citizen.
- March 10: When the winter months start to drag, think about how you can lighten the mood a little. Do you know anything about pet therapy? Read up on the UCLA Health Research site and ask a local senior center if you can bring pets to visit the residents.
- April 5: Easter. Are there some communities in your area that can’t have an Easter egg hunt? It’s easy to buy some candy and plastic eggs and create your own Easter egg hunt. Ask about shelters or schools in your area that could use some extra help on this holiday.
- April 17-19: Global Youth Service Day. Learn about ways to get involved in volunteer projects near you, or create one in your own area! Offer to clean up a highway, make cookies for an old friend, or thank a teacher for their time.
- April 17: Be aware of the possible flooding in Northfield around this time. In the event of a flood, families and riverside businesses will need help sandbagging! Check out the Northfield Shares website for information.
- April 23: Volunteer at Thursday’s Table at the Community Action Center. Help set up tables, prepare and serve food, and clean up while providing a hot, healthy meal to others. Contact Ivy Ainsworth (507-664-3569) to volunteer.
- May 1: Celebrate May Day. Gather a Circle of Service and make baskets of treats and flowers for friends. This tradition varies by culture, so feel free to ask around and see how others celebrate May Day.
- May 8: Walk or bike to work or school today to conserve energy and enjoy the sunshine!
- May 10: Mother’s Day. How many mothers are out there? THOUSANDS. Make something homemade for your mother on this day, thank your grandmother for all her love and support, or make a card for someone in the community – at a nursing home, school, etc. – and thank them for extending their “mothering” nature to others outside of their immediate family.
- May 17-23: National Prevention Week. Save the date! This week targets substance abuse and mental health issues. Before school lets out for the summer, take time to participate in prevention-themed activities to educate young people and families about substance use and abuse.
- May 25: Memorial Day. Honor veterans by attending a Memorial Day service in your town or area. Thank the veterans for their service and ask for stories and experiences if appropriate to show your appreciation for their service.
- June 5: Take 15 minutes to go through old toys to donate to the Clothes Closet.
- June 6: Head over to the Cannon Valley Trail to celebrate National Trails Day. Enjoy the 19.7 miles of countryside, perfect for biking, hiking, walking or skating with friends.
- June 8: Contact some of the local churches in town (such as Bethel Lutheran at 507-786-6674 or St. Dominic’s at 507-645-8816) to help out with Vacation Bible School during the summer! It’s a great way to get involved with the youth in a fun, summer-y setting.
- June 21: Father’s Day. There are many fathers who deserve appreciation on this day. Make a homemade Father’s Day card for your own father, and also for someone else in the community who deserves some extra appreciation on this day. Deliver this card anonymously or in person to thank them for all they do!
- June 30: Contact Northfield Shares to help out with Adopt a Highway. Northfield Shares has three different stretches of highway to maintain throughout the year, a perfect opportunity for a Circle of Service!
- General: July is Anti-Boredom Month! Use this time to pledge to volunteer five hours a month, or form a Circle of Service to brainstorm ideas of how you can help your community become a better place.
- July 1: Want to clean out your garage, attic or storage area? Organize a garage sale to get rid of the excess clothes, toys and random supplies, and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
- July 7: Bored? Volunteer to distribute food and stock shelves at the CAC’s Food Shelf for two to three hours at a time. It’s a small time commitment, and easy to do when summer months get long. Call the Community Action Center at 507-664-3585 for more information.
- July 19: Apply to volunteer at the Northfield Retirement Community. Get to know another part of the community through helping with Bingo, transporting residents to and from events and appointments, or being a visiting companion.
- July 30: Attention animal lovers! Volunteer at Prairie’s Edge Humane Society in Northfield to end your summer. Call the shelter at 507-334-7117 to register for the next available volunteer orientation and view the orientation schedule.
- August 5: Before school starts up again, start thinking about ways to become involved in bettering your school. Consider applying or running for Student Council or student government to give back to your school.
- August 9: Volunteer at the Northfield Arts Guild to get involved in the community arts! Stuff envelopes, usher or help backstage to ensure the success of local plays.
- August 17: Are incoming students aware of volunteer opportunities through the school? Make a bulletin board about opportunities presented by Northfield Shares or other organizations in town to connect youth with their specific volunteer interests.
- August 20: Volunteer for Northfield’s Defeat of Jesse James Days, one of the state’s largest all-volunteer event.
- General: Organize a carpool system to school or work to cut down on carbon emissions and enjoy each other’s company!
- September 5: Back-to-school days bring school shopping trips galore. Is your closet getting full? Take 15 minutes to clean out the clothes you don’t use anymore, and donate them to the Clothes Closet in Northfield. It’s easy, fast and gives someone else the opportunity to have a sturdy set of shoes and clothes for school.
- September 7: Students, do you have spare time, or a study hall? Use that hour to volunteer as a Teacher’s Aide (TA) to lighten the load of a teacher in your school.
- September 8-14: National Suicide Prevention Week. Contact your statewide suicide prevention coalition or your local mental health provider to become involved in shedding light on this difficult topic. The American Association of Suicidology offers an Information and Media Kit to help facilitate activities and discussion.
- September 20: Participate in the Cannon Valley Watershed Partnership‘s Annual Watershed Wide Cleanup today!
- September 26: Organize a Circle of Service to rake lawns in your neighborhood or area. Distribute leaf bags and take an afternoon with friends to clean up!
- October 5-11: Fire Safety Week. Take time to volunteer in an elementary or preschool to teach younger children about the importance of fire safety. Make up games and help children learn the finer points of fire safety.
- October 17: Call up Three Links Care Center (507-664-8800) to volunteer with seniors. Introduce the residents to an iPad and teach them to play games like Solitaire, word searches and so on.
- October 25: Make A Difference Day. This is the largest single-day of volunteering in the country! On this day, millions of Americans make a commitment to volunteer. Search for inspiration.
- October 31: Halloween. Take time to educate young children, friends or mentees about being safe on Halloween night. Write down important bullet points on a piece of paper, teach them a song or have a little “meeting” before they leave where they recall what they’ve learned.
- November 11: Recognize the veterans in your community by reaching out and expressing your thanks. (Grandparents/parents’ friends, ask veterans in the community for stories, and say “thank you.”)
- November 15: Volunteer for Christmas Sharing. Set up the event, wrap gifts and assist CAC clients during the holiday season to give back. Call the CAC at 507-664-3550 for more information.
- November 17: Homemade Bread Day. Baking homemade bread is a lost art that takes time and patience. Ask a relative or adult in the community to teach you their homemade bread recipe, then deliver this bread to someone in the community. Nothing brings people together like an unexpected, delicious homemade gift!
- November 17-21: American Education Week. Make signs or thank-you cards for teachers or professors to thank them for their time and talents. Deliver the card anonymously or in person to show your appreciation.
- November 27: Thanksgiving. Create a gratitude activity before the Thanksgiving meal. Have everyone write down something they’re thankful for on a slip of paper, put them in a basket, then draw them out and have everyone guess who wrote which one.
- General: Some local churches have gift trees, where they write down the age of a child in need and their desired Christmas gift on a slip of paper, and someone can choose that slip of paper and buy that gift for the child who can’t afford it. Find a tree and go to the store with friends to buy mittens, books or games for a child in need!
- General: Decorate a Christmas tree at your school, a nursing home or your church. If you live in a diverse neighborhood, ask others what traditions they have around this time (a menorah, the 12 days of Christmas, etc.) and offer to combine or celebrate those traditions together.
- General: Ring the bell for the Salvation Army! It might be cold, but it brings a smile to Christmas shoppers as they dig into their pockets for extra change.
- December 1: World AIDS Day. Do you know much about HIV? On this day, take time to read up on the history of the epidemic and how it changed the lives of millions. Read a play, such as Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, or get involved with your school’s FaceAids project. If they don’t have one, create one yourself! This epidemic still affects millions who need a voice.