American giving – 25 ways to get involved, give back and learn

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, eating, shopping…

It’s so American to spend one’s free time being an uber-consumer. It’s a cultural experience that you must take part in at least once during your J1 internship program. But did you also know about American giving, the powerful spirit of volunteerism and the pay it forward culture of the United States? 

Just think of the many friendships you can make in your local community by giving back. The smiles will beam at you as you give just a little bit of yourself during time in the States.

If you never before considered giving back, today is a wonderful day to start because people need you.

different world

25 ways to give back

Volunteering doesn’t have to be something super-serious, time-consuming or super fancy. You don’t need to spend money if you can’t or don’t want to. Just be there for people. Have the heart.

have the heart

  1. See someone asking for food on the street corner? Make them dinner.
  2. Break the ice with your neighbors by treating them to a tasty dessert from your country.
  3. Show up at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or a local church and ask how you can get involved in your community today.
  4. Shovel the snow/mow the lawn for that elderly couple next door, bring them firewood or just take them out for dinner. They might be lonely and would love your company.
  5. Are you a web designer? Redo a website for your old friend, because you can, because they cannot and just because.
  6. Offer to babysit your neighbor’s child or walk their pet when they are gone.
  7. Treat your neighbors to dinner.
  8. Join Idealist.
  9. Join LinikedIn for Volunteers and share your professional skills with nonprofits and people in need.
  10. Drop by the local animal shelter and fill out a volunteer application.
  11. Contact hospitals and elderly care facilities in your area.
  12. Help out a nomadic stranger.
  13. Join the Food Not Bombs movement.
  14. Become a disaster relief volunteer.
  15. Donate your clothes to a local thrift store.
  16. Donate your blood.
  17. Join a local food drive.
  18. Volunteer at a local school.
  19. Mentor someone who needs an ear and a helping hand.
  20. Join the Meals on Wheels service which delivers meals to the elderly.
  21. Take point 20 a step further. Spend some time with the elderly, take them out for walks. Talk to them. Be there. Sometimes that’s all they need.
  22. Join the TaskRabbit
  23. Volunteer at a local hospice (only if you are ready for it emotionally – it’s not for everyone).
  24. Adopt a highway in your area.
  25. Volunteer at a community garden.

Sky is the limit.


Start today. It’s so easy to do just one little thing to make a person smile today. That’s what American giving is all about.

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International education will change the world! J1 visas, F1 visas, OPT - been there, done that. Worked for a J1 sponsor, owned a technology business. Trail runner. Love search engines and Soviet history. Have a question about internship programs? Let's connect!

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