Volunteer Opportunities for Make a Difference Day

    Have you ever been at line at Starbucks and have the person in front of you pay for your order? It starts a chain-effect, called paying it forward, that will put a smile on your face for the rest of the day. Or has someone sincerely complimented you or helped you out in a situation where you were not expecting it?

    Everyone can appreciate an act of kindness. Research shows that being kind to others can actually make us genuinely happy in a number of different ways. We know that deciding to be generous or cooperating with others activates an area of the brain, which is the same area that responds to things we find rewarding, such as sugar or puppies. The feel-good emotion from helping has been termed “warm glow” and the activity we see in the brain is the likely biological basis of that feeling.

    Of course, you don’t have to scan brains to see that kindness has this kind of benefit. Research in psychology shows a link between kindness and well-being throughout life, starting at a very young age. In fact, even just reflecting on having been kind in the past may be enough to improve someone’s mood. Research has also shown that spending extra money on other people may be more powerful in increasing happiness than spending it on yourself.

    Make A Difference Day is almost upon us and it’s time to start rallying your friends, family, coworkers, and peers to join this global movement of doing good on Oct. 27. Here are some ideas and places to volunteer around the area for this day of doing good and making a difference.

    St. Patrick’s Center

    St. Patrick Center provides many opportunities to assist homeless persons through various programs and classes. They are always in need to volunteers from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm each day in their Shamrock Club, which is open 364 days a year. Volunteers are also needed in the evening to plan, prepare, and serve dinner for 15 women who stay as part of the Women’s Night Program.
    Website: stpatrickcenter.org

    Brightside St. Louis

    Brightside St. Louis is the city’s oldest and most comprehensive not-for-profit cleaning and greening group.
    Website: brightsidestl.org

    United Way of Greater St. Louis

    It takes just a single person to initiate change. United Way connects people with causes close to their hearts and inspires them to roll up their sleeves in their community.
    Website: helpingpeople.org

    Big Brothers Big Sisters

    When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. Today’s youth face a variety of challenges, and being matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister can help them navigate these challenges and reach their potential.
    Website: bbbs.org

    Animal Shelters | Fostering

    As you begin to work with an animal, you can see a change in their personality almost instantly and their personalities start to shine. Most shelter pets are strays and have had limited interactions with humans. Giving them love and attention they have never had, will be entirely rewarding for you and the animal!
    Websites: strayrescue.org, gatewaypets.com, fiveacresanimalshelter.org, odas.org, needypaws.org, apamo.org