In this season of gratitude and giving, many travelers’ and locals thoughts turn to how they can engage with the destinations they love in an even more meaningful way.
Whether you live in San Diego or just have made it a go-to vacation spot, getting involved with a community project — even for only an hour or two — can help you feel more connected with the fabric of life here. Not to mention do wonders for that holiday spirit.
Thinking of adding a little volunteering to your San Diego itinerary? Here are seven ideas and organizations to consider.
HandsOn San Diego
Turn volunteering into a fun family outing with HandsOn San Diego‘s “flexible volunteer vacations,” which include numerous kid-friendly options. The organization works with other local nonprofits to offer projects that visitors can plug into even on short notice. They can even schedule shifts that are convenient to your hotel.
Feeding San Diego
Give back this holiday season by taking a stand against hunger with Feeding San Diego, a leading San Diego nonprofit focused on food rescue. The organization has numerous ongoing volunteer opportunities for food sorting, distribution and other activities.
I Love a Clean San Diego
San Diego is composed of 100 diverse neighborhoods, and taking part in a community cleanup is a great way both to discover those neighborhoods and help keep them beautiful — whether you’re a local or just want to experience San Diego like one. I Love a Clean San Diego offers numerous volunteer events around the county, including a two-hour community cleanup on Thanksgiving weekend in the urban neighborhood of Encanto.
Bee Monitoring Project
Take in the stunning beauty of Torrey Pines State Reserve’s seaside trails, and do your part for science besides, by contributing to the reserve’s Bee Monitoring Project. All you need is a smartphone with a camera, some good walking shoes and a little time to snap a few shots of the resident bees while strolling through one of San Diego’s scenic wonders. And while you’re there, check out other volunteer opportunities, such as helping remove invasive plants with the Whacky Weeders.
If you’re looking to build a whole trip around volunteering, check out Love Volunteers, a global organization that partners with San Diego nonprofits for projects focused on low-income families and unhoused populations. Love Volunteers also helps coordinate transportation from the airport and to project sites from a downtown hostel. Volunteer shifts are typically three to five hours per day, four or five days a week. That leaves plenty of time to explore more of the city.
Want to get your green thumb on at a local farm? San Diego has some 5,100 of them, and more than two-thirds of those are less than 9 acres in size. Pitch in on such needs as seeding, weeding and mulching at several farms, including Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas and Wild Willow Farm near the border with Mexico.
Challenged Athletes Foundation
San Diego is an outdoor-recreation paradise, and the locally based Challenged Athletes Foundation is a leader in helping people of all abilities get out there and enjoy all the region has to offer — whether in the ocean, out on the trail or on the field of play. The organization has numerous volunteer options, from general support to assistance with field clinics, all toward the mission of empowering lives through sport.