Let’s not kid ourselves – we’ve all thought about doing it, but when it actually comes down to the crunch, we end up finding an excuse not to go ahead with it. You’re busy, we get it, but surely there’s a window of opportunity lurking somewhere where you can find time on a quiet Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

Yep, there is. And you SHOULD do it.

It’s not a chore and it’s not a sacrifice, and believe me, the rewards are boundless.

Volunteering – giving up your time to help others – comes in a million different shapes and sizes. Here are just a few examples of how you can do good and feel great simultaneously.

1. Release your inner animal at Perth Zoo

The Docent Association at Perth Zoo is currently looking for friendly, outgoing people, 18 years and over, who are good communicators, physically fit and can volunteer at least one day a fortnight from 9 am until 3 pm.

In this “must love animals” position, docents provide informal talks about animals, Zebra Car tours, walking tours, assist with directions and information on keeper talks and feed times. Docents become especially skilled in “edu-tainment” – combining education and entertainment to promote the Zoo’s conservation mission.

2. Don’t see red, donate blood instead

According to the Australia Red Cross Blood Service, currently, only 1 in 30 people donate blood, while a staggering 1 in 3 people will need blood at some point in their lifetime.

Our red blood cells, plasma and platelets can all help those seriously injured in accidents and emergencies, while also aiding those suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.

To find out if you are eligible to donate, or more information on how your blood can help others, head to www.donateblood.com.au. Before you say “ouch! a needle”, remember, a small portion of your time can greatly change someone’s life.

3. Hospitals

Volunteers are the backbone for a large majority of Australia’s hospitals and unpaid time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to the staff, doctors and patients.

You’ll find that most hospitals have an established volunteer program which asks members of the public to help with such duties as escorting patients to different parts of the hospital, handing out magazines, making tea or coffee, arranging and delivering flowers, assisting with administration and archiving.

4. Make a meal for families at Ronald McDonald House

Each year, every Ronald McDonald House, Family Room and Retreat relies on a team of eager volunteers to assist with a range of activities for seriously ill children and their families.

A volunteers’ time is most precious to help bring a smile to people’s faces – whether it’s making cup of tea or coffee, preparing a meal or being a supportive shoulder to lean on. For more information, head to www.rmhc.org.au

5. Freo Tourist Guide

Freo, way to go! The Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides are a group of amiable people who help run the Roundhouse and other associated tourist attractions. It’s a great opportunity to learn the rich history of one of WA’s most popular destinations while also sharing in sublime culture.

6. Mission Australia

Mission Australia provides security, care and support for children and families, young people and the homeless while also offering numerous employment and training opportunities.

In the pursuit of “paying-it-forward”, Mission Australia runs various intervention, prevention and support programs and are always after help from volunteers to guide others in the community to a better quality of life. For more information, head to www.missionaustralia.com.au

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