Meaningful Ways To Volunteer In 2017

The holidays are a time to reflect on our good fortune, and to show our gratitude for the people in our lives who’ve helped us become our best selves. This perspective often causes us to step outside of ourselves to ponder the ways in which we can help those who aren’t as fortunate, stand up for minority groups or protect the Earth which sustains us. Here, a few easy yet meaningful ways to volunteer your time in the new year, some of which you can do from your desk.

Project Night Night is a cute, personal way to help homeless children—we suggest getting a group together to assemble packages for donation, which each include a security blanket, an age-appropriate children's book and a stuffed animal.

If events in Aleppo have made you feel helpless and you'd like to donate not just money but time, we suggest volunteering with your local office of the International Rescue Committee. This organization helps refugees acclimate, find work and more. Or, join a Good Neighbor Team.

Sign up for EarthJustice action alerts to be regularly notified on various easy ways to help save the Earth and its myriad endangered species.

Around the holidays, it's particularly difficult to imagine what life is like for children in the foster care system. CASA volunteers become advocates for individual children in an otherwise overwhelming and oft impersonal system, helping them find their best homes.

Unless you're like us, and the only movement you enjoy each day is the walk from your desk to the coffee machine, there is no reason you shouldn't be signed up with Charity Miles. The app tracks your steps—running, walking, etc.—and donates to the charity of your choice based on your activity.

As with EarthJustice, this is one you can pitch in on while sitting in your office. For over 100 years, the ACLU has been fighting to defend the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the law on behalf of all Americans. Sign up for ACLU Action updates to sign petitions and be notified of other easy ways to raise your voice to protect others.

Senior citizens are the most forgotten members of our society, and many struggle to meet their basic needs (or could just use some conversation and a hug). Find local volunteer opportunities with this demographic here.

Many of us were lucky enough to have parents, teachers and other adults guide us through our young lives to successful adulthoods. Many more are not so lucky. Mentoring.org can match you with local organizations to help you connect with the perfect mentee, so that you can pay forward your good fortune.