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Take a volunteer vacation
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With budget cutbacks across every segment of society, more and more public programs will be depending on volunteers to keep projects going. If sitting beachside or sleeping in a hammock isn’t for you, consider taking a volunteer vacation this summer.
On a volunteer vacation, you won’t be paid for your work. In fact, you’ll be responsible for your own transportation to the site and may pay for your food and lodging while there. Lodging can vary from a sleeping bag on the ground to a shelter or a motel, and you might be cooking your own food, depending on the program. Still, a volunteer vacation can be a way to help others, and some of your expenses might be tax deductible.
Charity Guide [] has an extensive section on volunteer vacations. You can volunteer at a camp for children with special needs, conduct environmental research, track whales during migration, help to rehab rescued animals at wildlife sanctuaries, act as photojournalist in any number of worthy causes or help preserve historic trains and railroads, among dozens of choices.
The American Hiking Society [] concentrates on building and maintaining trails across the country. Put together a crew and sign up for a week-long project.
Wilderness Volunteers [] is a nonprofit that promotes volunteer service in wild lands and public parks. Read the information carefully to gauge your fitness level before signing up.
By working with Habitat for Humanity [] you could have the opportunity to help build a home for a local family.
Check Volunteer Match [] for the most up-to-the-minute volunteer needs. This is the site to check if you have time off and want to volunteer locally for a day or a week, but can’t afford to go away.
Do your research before you pick a program. Many projects are ongoing, and you might not see a lot of progress during the time you’re there — you’ll be picking up where a previous group of volunteers left off.
You don’t necessarily need to travel overseas to find work that needs to be done. There’s plenty of need right here. You might even find work to be done in your own town or state, and not have the expense of leaving home.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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