Doing good helps those in need and feels good — and these organizations from around the state will help you achieve both. They are but a small sampling of the myriad groups and individuals here in Connecticut actively seeking volunteers to help them move mountains both big and small in their quest to better the lives of those living in this place we call home. Together we rise.

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Circle of Care

“Kids with cancer need more than medicine to heal,” is the belief of Wilton-based Circle of Care, which provides practical, emotional and financial support to families of children, adolescents and young adults up to age 26 in treatment for cancer. Its volunteer program at the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital may be on hold due to COVID, but its “Art from the Heart” room-makeover program is proceeding cautiously and volunteers are always needed to help with committees that oversee marketing, special events and resource development and to manage drives to gather essential items for care packages for families enduring a hospital stay. thecircleofcare.org

Shopping Angels

A grocery-delivery service that focuses on preventing the spread of COVID-19 to at-risk individuals, Shopping Angels was founded in March 2020 by students at the University of Nevada, Reno. It now has branches in all 50 states, including, of course, Connecticut, where approximately 280 volunteers provide free delivery of groceries and other shopping necessities to those over 60 years old, parents of infants and people with underlying medical conditions. Volunteer angels over the age of 18 are needed in Connecticut for shopping and delivery and coordination efforts. shoppingangelsglobal.org

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Healing Meals Community Project

The Healing Meals Community Project’s dual mission is to “provide healthy organic meals to people in a health crisis while fostering compassion and empowering youth and adult volunteers in our communities.” In fact, all of the nutrient-rich meals it provides are prepared by youth volunteers (ages 14 and up) working alongside adult mentors and its executive chef. Families in need receive meals for 12 weeks, which are delivered to their door by volunteers who travel up to 40 minutes in any direction from the nonprofit’s Bloomfield base. healingmealsproject.org

Haven’s Harvest

Businesses often have excess food and business owners struggle to find community partners to accept the food and find transportation for it — that’s where Haven’s Harvest comes in. The New Haven-based food rescue has a community network of some 100 donors (restaurants, grocers, bakeries, universities …), 100 recipients (day cares, faith-based organizations, those living in subsidized housing …) and 300 volunteers who pick up food donations throughout southern New Haven County and deliver them to needy recipients. Most runs, which volunteers sign up for via a user-friendly app, take 30 minutes or less. Waste not, want not. havensharvest.org

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Toby’s Dream Dog Rescue

Not quite ready to make the commitment to a COVID puppy of your own? Toby’s Dream Dog Rescue is looking for foster families to care for the abandoned puppies and adult dogs it rescues in Connecticut, across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico until they find their forever homes. The West Haven-based rescue provides everything you need to foster, from collars and leashes to food and medication. Foster families are simply asked to “supply the love,” and be willing to bring their foster to any vet appointments, meet-and-greets or adoption events. Volunteers are also needed to help with animal transport and events. tdrdogs.com

Amy’s Angels

The folks at Simsbury-based Amy’s Angels firmly believe that there are angels all around us — are you one of them? The Simsbury-based nonprofit, established in 2014 in memory of breast-cancer warrior Amy (Fiondella) Bochman, provides comprehensive short- and long-term assistance to individuals struggling, as Amy did, to live a life of dignity while dealing with the debilitating effects of serious illness or injury. The goal: to allow patients to focus on healing rather than worry about their financial burdens. Volunteers are needed to help with fundraising, events and grant writing. amysangels.org

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Save the Sound

The mission of New Haven-based Save the Sound is to protect and improve all that impacts Long Island Sound’s environment, from rivers and shorelines to wetlands and forests, from the air we breathe to the waters we swim in. Volunteer opportunities include helping with beach and coastal cleanups, planting native grasses and shrubs, removing invasive species, office assistance and event support, and water-quality sampling along the coastline and tributaries of the Sound. savethesound.org

Habitat for Humanity ReStores 

These retail home-improvement and reuse stores are operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates. The seven in Connecticut accept donations of new and gently used furniture, building materials and more, which they sell to the public at a fraction of retail and then use the proceeds to build Habitat homes within the community. Volunteer “treasure hunters” of all ages (the youngest volunteer at the Middlesex ReStore in Cromwell is 15 and the oldest 78) are needed to help with donation intake, sorting, sanitation and display — you just never know what you’ll find! habitat.org/restores 

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Mystic Aquarium

The aquarium’s mission to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research would not be possible without its dedicated volunteers. Volunteers ages 15 and up are needed in its education program to help with enrichment and distance-learning programs, as well as in the docent program whose participants interact with guests curious about exhibits like the Arctic Coast and its smiling belugas and the ray touch pool, where guests get up close and personal with silky-smooth cownose stingrays. mysticaquarium.org/careers/volunteering

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Volunteer opportunities through DEEP are vast and varied. Indeed, help is needed at Connecticut’s 139 state parks and forests with everything from trail maintenance and gardening to interpretive programs and newsletters. Then there’s DEEP’s Boating Division, which needs volunteer instructors for its safe boating programs; the volunteer fishing instructors needed for the Connecticut Aquatics Resources Education (CARE) program; Marine Fisheries’ Marine Volunteer Angler Survey Program; opportunities for citizen scientists of all ages in Wildlife Division programs like the Discover Outdoor Connecticut iNaturalist Project … time to go outside! portal.ct.gov/DEEP

Kids Helping Kids

Founded in 2009 by 12-year-old Stamford resident Lexi Kelley, Kids Helping Kids aims to cultivate leadership skills through youth-led service projects. Kids are empowered to “turn empathy into action,” by creating, planning and implementing service projects that benefit other children in the community. Elementary through high school students looking for opportunities to make an impact (KHK has worked with more than 5,000 kids and 132 schools thus far) attend a virtual orientation to start. kidshelpingkidsct.org

Locket’s Meadow Farm

A 15-acre animal rescue and sanctuary in Bethany, Locket’s Meadow is home to approximately 140 animals (cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, one looker of a llama named Precious …) rescued from slaughter, abuse and neglect. Youth and adult animal-care volunteers are needed on weekends from 8-11 a.m. to help care for the nonprofit’s 35 horses, whether filling water troughs and cleaning stalls or grooming and helping maintain paddocks. locketsmeadow.org

 

More ways to give back:

Millennials are leading the way in charity and volunteering — and they’re changing the giving game.

Involved millennials and charity pros offer advice for how to get involved and make a difference.

Use our volunteer matcher to find the opportunities to give back that are right for you.

How you can do some good for others without added COVID risk.

These Connecticut charities will help your donated money or goods go further.

Still not sure which charity to give your hard-earned money? Ask givewell.org for suggestions.

Local organizations that need your donations.

Great ideas for helping older adults during the pandemic.

Some simple things you can do that spread joy and won’t cost you a thing.

Want to boost your own happiness and well-being? You can by helping others.

This article appears in the December 2020 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.