The 4th of July, or Independence Day if you prefer, is celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States. Fun fact: the 4th of July marks the birth of American independence, but the day only officially became a holiday in 1941.
Today, the 4th of July is often celebrated with fireworks, outdoor barbecues, family gatherings, and flag-style apparel. (Who doesn’t own a flag T-shirt or shorts??) And while there are plenty of fun ways to celebrate the holiday, you can also try something you may not have considered: giving back as a volunteer.
This Independence Day, why not volunteer your services to a good cause? Here are just a few ways you can give your day off to help others in your community (and worldwide).
HELP KEEP LOCAL FESTIVITIES SAFE
If your community is hosting a professional fireworks show or celebration on Independence Day, reach out to the coordinators to see if they need volunteers. They may need help setting up vendors, roping off the celebration area, manning concessions stands, assisting with parking or shuttle services, cleanup, and making sure the fireworks display runs safely.
Another easy way to help others celebrate safely? Offer to be a designated driver if you’re attending an event with alcoholic beverages. Make sure your friends and family get home safely, or plan to take a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft to and from the event.
SHOW OUR TROOPS YOUR APPRECIATION
The 4th of July commemorates the freedom and independence we enjoy in America. In the spirit of patriotism, take a moment to thank our troops for their selflessness and dedication to our country. How? Send a letter of appreciation to troops, first responders, or veterans through Operation Gratitude. Or you can send a care kit with necessities, entertainment, and non-perishable treats like cookies or brownies. The United States Postal Service offers a free Military Care Kit that includes everything you need to send a package overseas. Just make sure to mail it well before the 4th, because mail to our service men and women isn’t too fast.
REACH OUT TO A LOCAL MILITARY FAMILY OR VETERAN
Helping our neighbors at home is just as important. If you know someone whose spouse is deployed overseas, why not invite them to join your 4th of July gathering? If they have to work (many Americans don’t get holidays off), offer to watch their kids to give them a break.
Consider inviting an older veteran or service person who might be spending the holiday alone, too. Being around friendly faces and meeting new people can brighten someone’s day. If you need a little guidance on reaching out, an organization like Blue Star Families brings military families and their civilian neighbors together. Or you can contact your local VFW to see if they’d like to join your gathering, or if they need a ride to the neighborhood celebrations.
ORGANIZE A NEIGHBORHOOD CLEANUP
This land is your land, so take good care of it by organizing a community cleanup! Local cleanups are usually organized by neighborhood associations, but can also be led by schools, churches, youth groups, community service programs, and local nonprofits.
Ask your neighborhood association for help organizing or share your idea on a social network like Nextdoor. Leave time for volunteers to join your cause, and pick a day for cleanup that will work best for everyone. Make a list of supplies you’ll need, like trash bags, gloves, rakes, shovels, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and so on. A neighborhood picnic or barbecue following the cleanup is an excellent opportunity to get to know one another and show appreciation for their work.
If you want to venture further outside your neighborhood, join a cleanup for a nearby park, beach, lake, forest, or community area.
VOLUNTEER AT A LOCAL HOMELESS SHELTER OR SENIOR CENTER
Many people aren’t able to call a place “home,” and some older adults who live in a senior care facility may not feel as independent as they did when they were younger. Both homeless shelters and senior centers are great places to volunteer your time on Independence Day.
You might serve meals, help with laundry, or support the administrative staff at a homeless shelter. At a senior center, you may volunteer to read to residents, help them with daily tasks, or simply spend quality time with residents. Nonprofits like the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) empower older adults to live at home with greater independence. By volunteering with a nonprofit like N4A, you might help out with administrative duties, clerical tasks, or by spending time with older adults. You can even sit outside and enjoy a fireworks display with your newfound friend.
FIND MORE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES WITH NOBLEHOUR
By volunteering your time on Independence Day, you’re making an impact in your community and on people who are in need. You’re also reinforcing the idea of what it is to be an American. Who knows… you may even start a new tradition of giving back on this holiday!
Need more volunteering ideas for this 4th of July? NobleHour can connect you with community partners in your neighborhood. And with NobleHour’s mobile app, finding and tracking volunteer opportunities is easier than ever.
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. With its robust online platform, NobleHour enhances community engagement with a variety of innovative and transformative tools for finding, tracking, and measuring volunteer, service‐learning, and community service initiatives. With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, the NobleHour team is dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Special Contributor:
Latasha Doyle is a writer and long term care volunteer living outside of Denver, Colorado. When she’s not writing or volunteering, she enjoys crocheting, Netflix marathons, and planning her next trip.