Top 5 Places to Volunteer

Looking to lend a hand? Here are five places that do a whole lotta giving back.

1. Matthew 25 Ministries
M25M does a little bit of everything, from supplying towns in Zimbabwe with school and medical supplies to making their own packaged meals for disaster sites to hosting an annual Fighting Hunger 5k Run/Walk. This humanitarian aid non-profit is nationally recognized and, to date, has distributed more than 13 million pounds in aid goods this year alone. Stop by on your own or sign up to come with a group—you’ll be cheerily welcomed and put right to work. 11060 Kenwood Rd., Blue Ash, (513)793-6256,

2. Freestore Food Bank Giving Fields
As the largest emergency food provider in the Tri-State, Freestore partners with hundreds of agencies in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana to provide free food to those who need it. One of their partners, a 6-acre community farm in Kentucky called The Giving Fields, distributes fresh-grown fruits and vegetables and is tended almost exclusively by volunteers. They also regularly host food drives and events such as “Check-Out Hunger,” where you purchase a $1-$5 “card” at your local Kroger, with proceeds going directly to the foodbank. 112 E. Liberty St., downtown, (513) 482-7528,

3. Give Back Cincinnati
Typically hosting one-day events like Don’t Rock the Boat (a canoe trip dedicated to cleaning up the banks of the Little Miami), Paint the Town (volunteers paint/fix up houses in selected communities), and Fall Feast (a communal Thanksgiving meal held at Duke Energy Center), GBC’s mission is to get young people involved in their community. Plus, service events typically end with an informal hangout at a local bar or restaurant, so you can celebrate a day well spent with all your new friends.

4. Cincinnati Red Cross
Whether it’s registering donors for a blood drive, teaching CPR or first aid, assisting with disaster relief, or helping with fundraising, Red Cross volunteers have almost limitless opportunities to lend a helping hand. You don’t even have to leave home: through December 6, volunteers can participate in “Holiday Mail for Heroes,” sending holiday cards and letters to service members across the U.S. and abroad. 2111 Dana Ave., downtown, (513) 579-3000,

5. Ronald McDonald House Charities
Sign up for Snack Time, and you’ll have the Ronald McDonald kitchen at your disposal for two hours to concoct snacks and treats for guest families. Or gather up a group of buddies to prepare and serve a meal for House guests. If you’re looking for a more regular commitment opportunity, register to become a Guest Service Volunteer and help with the day-to-day operations of the House. 350 Erkenbrecher Ave., Avondale, (513) 636-7642,

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