Have you ever been planning a trip somewhere new and thought about doing a bit more with your time there? Have you thought about volunteering with a local charity but aren’t sure where to start? This week I’m introducing a new feature called “Travel with Purpose.” It will be all about volunteering and giving back to the communities that we visit while traveling.
Adding a volunteering component to your vacation is a great way to give back while also having a good time. Traveling alone? That’s okay, volunteering can lead to meeting locals and finding out what they love about the city you are visiting. Traveling with your family? Volunteering while on vacation is a great way to expose your kids to charity work while also having a good time.
Starting with Orlando seemed like the right jumping-off point for this series! Orlando is known for its theme parks, restaurants, and proximity to the Florida beaches, but did you know that we have some pretty amazing local charities here? Here are a few that would make a fabulous addition to your Orlando area vacation.
Give Kids the World Village
If you’ve visited my blog before, you probably know that Give Kids the World holds a very special place in my heart. Give Kids The World Village is an 89-acre, whimsical nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides critically ill children and their families from around the world with magical week-long wish vacations at no cost. From life’s simple pleasures to the stuff that dreams are made of, every family is treated to an all-inclusive, customized dream vacation including transportation, accommodations, donated theme park tickets, nightly entertainment, daily gifts, and unique experiences at the Village, a storybook destination of its own – featuring an array of accessible rides and attractions. Since 1986, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 178,000 wish families from all 50 states and 76 countries.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Village. Passionate volunteers contribute their time and talent helping to create priceless memories for critically ill children and their families during magical weeklong wish vacations in this whimsical, storybook Village. For more information on volunteer positions and signing up, please visit https://www.gktw.org/volunteer/.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a member of Feeding America – the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. SHFBCF secures and distributes food and grocery products to approximately 550 local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida. In the past year, with the help of food and financial donors, volunteers, and a caring, committed community, the food bank has distributed enough food for 96 million meals to partner programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, senior centers, daycare centers, and Kids Cafes. In addition, Second Harvest’s 16-week culinary program teaches foodservice-based technical, life and employability skills to economically hard-pressed adults at no cost to them. Second Harvest is distributing enough food for a quarter of a million meals every day to the six-county service area.
Second Harvest Food Bank relied on 39,138 volunteers last year whose hours totaled 119,765. It’s pretty incredible to see so many caring individuals pass through our warehouse throughout the year. Their various volunteer opportunities offer fun and unique ways for individuals and groups to contribute their time, talents, and resources to help Orlando neighbors facing hunger. For more information on volunteer positions and signing up, please visit https://www.feedhopenow.org/.
Avian Reconditioning Center
Looking to have a little bit more of a wild(life) volunteer experience? Check out the Avian Reconditioning Center! Avian Reconditioning Center, or ARC, located in Apopka about 30 minutes north of Orlando, is a bird-of-prey rehabilitation and education facility. Equipped with three large flight barns, the facility is able to accommodate the rehabilitation of various types of birds of prey, also known as raptors. That includes kestrels, screech owls, Cooper’s hawks, falcons, kites, and bald eagles.
Volunteers can assist in a variety of areas: facility care, such as constructing or rewrapping perches or building new housing facilities; feeding, cleaning, or weighing birds; helping release birds back to the wild; educational programs, teaching the public about the human impact on birds; or gardening and landscaping. For more information, call (407) 461-1056 or visit arc4raptors.org/volunteer.
The Sharing Center
The Sharing Center has been loving our neighbors since 1986. They are more than just a singular resource for those facing difficult circumstances. The Sharing Center has become the most comprehensive social services hub in Seminole County, serving those impacted by hardships, hunger, and homelessness. They believe in providing individuals and families with dignified solutions from the moment they arrive on their campus to the moment they depart.
Their volunteer opportunities offer meaningful ways for individuals and groups to contribute their time, talents, treasures, and resources to help Orlando neighbors in need. They welcome volunteers to serve in many different ways across their organization giving you the opportunity to give back to the community and support neighbors in need. Sign up today to serve at The Sharing Center!