When I mention that I live in Orlando, Florida most people immediately ask me what it’s like living so close to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Resort. I often respond back that it’s nice, but there’s much more to Orlando than vacations and theme parks. Spending my time volunteering is a rewarding experience, and there are so many opportunities to volunteer and help give back to the community. I’ve listed some opportunities below, so if you’re looking to travel to Orlando and do some community service after visiting numerous tourist attractions, or if you are already living here and want to give back but don’t know how feel free to look at this list below and start volunteering!
1. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Cystic Fibrosis is when there is a build-up of mucus in the lungs and it makes it hard to breathe. There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis, and many people need to go through hours of breathing exercises in order to help lead a normal life. When I was a student at the University of Central Florida, I went through sorority recruitment and the sorority I joined volunteers and donates money every year to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I learned that a sister had passed away because of Cystic Fibrosis, and the girls wanted to help and raise money in her honor.
Alison Callum went through recruitment as a sophomore in the fall of 2003 and joined Kappa Kappa Gamma. She did everything in her power to lead a normal life and never complained about having Cystic Fibrosis, and many of the girls in my sorority even know she had CF. In October of 2003, Alison’s health began failing. She was hospitalized with pneumonia and her kidneys shut down on her. After a week in ICU, she passed away with her family by her side.
There are numerous Cystic Fibrosis events nationwide that you can volunteer at. In Orlando, there are Cystic Fibrosis walks at the University of Central Florida and downtown Orlando as well as CF Climb for Life and CF Cycle for Life.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a national organization and the Orlando-based office is located in Winter Park, Florida. For more information, you can call (407) 339-2978 or email at [email protected]
2. The Orlando Science Center
The Orlando Science Center’s mission statement is to strive to provide science for everyone by creating opportunities for experiential science learning and promoting science literacy. The Orlando Science Center has numerous exhibit openings and events throughout the year that anyone can volunteer at. After filling out a volunteer application and perusing through the website, volunteers can learn more about traveling exhibits like GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World, exhibit galleries like DinoDigs where learning about prehistoric dinosaurs, as well as Science Live! Programs. As I helped people learn more about science, I discovered a new found interest in it myself.
Not only does the Orlando Science Center provide fun and interactive exhibits for people of all ages, but they also have numerous events scheduled throughout the year. There’s meeting and rental facilities and weddings, but also exciting events like Otronicon, the Neanderthal Ball and The Science of Wine.
Orlando Science Center is located at 777 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803. For more information, you can call (407) 514-2000 or email at [email protected]
3. A Gift For Teaching
Gary Landwirth, founder of A Gift For Teaching, wanted to recycle extra supplies from local businesses to children in need. Operating as a free store, teachers can come in with a checklist and “shop” around the store and pick out items to use in the classroom. This tri-county-wide operation recycles more than $39,000 worth of school supplies for free and has distributed more than $57 million worth of school supplies to underprivileged children completely free of charge.
A Gift For Teaching welcomes all volunteers to help out with managing the free store, working events and even becoming an Ambassador for A Gift For Teaching. I interned with this organization when I was in college, and it was a joy to be there and see the plethora of items being put to good use in classrooms of underprivileged children.
A Gift For Teaching is located at 6501 Magic Way, Bldg #400C Orlando, FL 32809. For more information, please feel free to call (407) 318-3123 or email at [email protected]