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Community service opportunities include both individual and group volunteer opportunities sponsored by various charities, social service agencies, and other community groups. Many organizations rely on the work of volunteers in order to fulfill their missions and so regularly organize and publicize community service opportunities to local residents. These can vary from hands-on work with the populations served by the charities to various types of administrative and maintenance duties. In some cases, volunteers with significant expertise in a particular area may also provide consulting services to service-oriented organizations.
All communities have specific needs and typically have several organizations and agencies that serve a community's most vulnerable members as well as the community as a whole. These organizations can run the gamut between providing services to children, the elderly, and the disabled to protecting and educating others about local wildlife. As such, community service opportunities exist in a variety of areas so that interested community members usually have the ability to offer their services in an area or for a cause that interests them.
Many organizations that accept volunteers typically develop a volunteer program to streamline volunteer efforts and coordinate community service opportunities so as to maximize the value of donated labor. Some programs are geared toward groups of people who belong to an outside organization. For example, church members may volunteer as a group to serve a dinner at a homeless shelter. Community service for teens may consist of school groups traveling to a summer community service site and repairing a house.
Individuals can also take advantage of community service opportunities. These people may serve as support staff so that an organization's professional staff can focus on critical needs. In some cases, an individual may perform specialized services for an organization that might not otherwise be able to afford to hire somebody to complete needed work. For example, an accountant may do an organization's books for free, or a contractor may not charge for his labor in making repairs on a charity's business. Such roles often benefit both the volunteer as well as the organization, as the volunteer may receive public acknowledgment from the charity for his efforts and may be able to obtain a reference from the charity that he can use in obtaining paying clients in the future. The organization, on the other hand, benefits by receiving high-quality professional services at no cost.