Thursday, June 20, 2024

8 Ways to Give Back This Summer in Boca Raton and Beyond

School’s out, the snowbirds are headed home, and the beaches aren’t quite as crowded as normal—the summer slowdown has officially arrived. Unfortunately for charities in our area, the slowdown includes donations and volunteers they receive.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We found eight ways you and your family can give back to the community—from organizing a diaper drive, collecting food for pantries, or helping those in need with tasks like painting houses—to be a good neighbor.

Stocking food pantries

Volunteers at Boca Helping Hands

The summer months are hard for families facing food insecurity—there’s no school lunch, summer camp can be costly, and food banks tend to receive fewer donations. That’s why Boca Helping Hands is calling on the community to host food drives. Work with your office, place of worship, civic group, or with your own family to collect food items.

Most needed items include:

  • Beans
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Cereal boxes
  • Granola bars
  • Canned soup
  • Crackers
  • Canned fish
  • Jelly
  • Boxed or canned milk
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned poultry
  • Powdered juice
  • Rice

Donations can be dropped off at Boca Helping Hands, 1500 N.W. First Court in Boca Raton. Items can be dropped off from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Call 561/417-0913 or visit bocahelpinghands.org for more information.

Collect baby diapers and wipes

A baby goes through roughly 3,000 diapers in their first year of life, and that’s not a cheap expense, especially since it’s not covered by WIC. The Diaper Bank Covering South Florida, founded by the Junior League of Boca Raton, has provided 6 million diapers to families in need since 2011. According to the nonprofit, 89% of the recipients are working parents, and 13% are working two jobs. Reach out to your network to host a diaper drive this summer; the nonprofit has a Diaper Drive Kit ready to go to make it easy to give back. If you’re away from the summer or would like to send diapers to the center, check out their Amazon Wishlist

Diapers and baby wipes can be dropped off at the Vegso Community Resource Center, 261 N.W. 13th St. in Boca Raton from Monday to Friday. They even accept opened packages, so if your child outgrows their size and you have diapers left over, they won’t go to waste!

For more information, visit all 561/247-0156 or visit diaperbankcoveringsofl.org.

Keep our beaches clean

Find trash on the beach? Help clean it up. At all three of Boca Raton’s beaches, visitors can get clean buckets from lifeguard towers 4, 9 and 16 to collect bits of plastic, cigarette butts, bottles, cans, and other waste that’s left behind on the beach. Not only does this make the shorelines of Spanish River Park, Red Reef Park, and South Beach Park look nicer, but it helps local wildlife who may mistake it for food. If you want to make an even bigger impact, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center schedules beach cleanups for groups of 10 to 25, providing buckets and grabbers for participants. If you or any kids in the group are in need of community service hours, they can help with that, too.

Contact Environmental Program Coordinator Susan Elliott at 561/544-8606 or selliott@myboca.us

P.S. You can download the Clean Swell app from the Ocean Conservancy to help keep track of the amount and type of trash collected from the beach. Boca Raton’s group username is BocaBeaches2023.

Hurricane supplies for the homeless

The Lords Place staff gets ready to hand out hurricane kits.

Hurricane season officially arrived with the start of June and The Lord’s Place in West Palm Beach is collecting supplies for those they serve. The charity—which assists people who are homeless or in transitional living—is asking the public to donate items to build 500 kits for all of their clients as well as unhoused people living on the streets. You can go out and purchase items from their wishlist, or simply add items to your Amazon shopping cart from their list here.

Any donation will be appreciated. Individual items needed to prepare 500 kits include:

  • Sling backpacks
  • Flashlights                                
  • Batteries                                 
  • Dried milk                              
  • Can openers                             
  • Powdered drink                            
  • Antibacterial wipes                
  • Bleach                                        
  • Battery operated personal fans
  • Disposable raincoats        
  • Umbrellas                                 
  • Battery packs to charge devices  
  • Hygiene packs (toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, wash cloth, lotion)
  • Canned and nonperishable food, especially proteins and cans with pop-tops.                                          
  • Bottled water
  • Individually packaged protein bars and snacks
  • Small First Aid Kits
  • Cotton washcloths 
  • Cheese sandwich crackers
  • Peanut butter cracker sandwiches 

Monetary donations can also be made at thelordsplace.org/donate; note “hurricane supplies” as the tribute gift.

To host a supply drive or for more information, contact The Lord’s Place at info@thelordsplace.org or 561/537-4645.

Spend time with a furry friend

Andriyko Podilnyk/Unsplash

Countless animals find themselves at Tricounty Animal Rescue in Boca Raton every year—in fact, since its inception in 1996, they have rescued 89,000 animals. For the dogs who are waiting for their forever homes, volunteers are needed to walk them to give them some fresh air and also help with socialization. Dog walkers need to be at least 18 years old to volunteer. Other volunteer opportunities include pet photographer, special events volunteer, and cat room assistant.

For more information, call 561/482-8110 or visit tricountyanimalrescue.com/volunteer.

Getting kids involved

With some extra time at their disposal this summer, Boca kids can learn how good it feels to give back. Feeding South Florida’s Boynton Beach location has a number of opportunities for youngsters, including sorting and packing food (ages 12 to 14 with an adult, 15 or older unsupervised), volunteering in the Community Kitchen (ages 16 and older), senior meal box distribution (12 to 15 with an adult, 16 and older unsupervised), and Family Philanthropy Days with youth as young as 6 able to participate with adult supervision.

For more information, call 561/331-5441 or visit feedingsouthflorida.org/volunteer.

Collect school supplies

Ok, the kids just got out of school like yesterday, but it’s never too early to participate in a school supply drive for next year. According to the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, county teachers spend about $800 of their own money each year for classroom supplies and to help out students who can’t afford items. That’s why the organization is accepting donations for its Red Apple Supplies program, benefiting teachers from the highest-need schools in the district.

School supplies can be dropped off at Red Apple Supplies from Monday to Thursday between 10:30 a.m. to noon or 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 7071 Garden Road in Riviera Beach. You can also volunteer your time to organize donated supplies, assist teachers shopping through the inventory, create displays, and other tasks.

For more information, call 561/951-5527 or visit educationfoundationpbc.org/red-apple-supplies.

Something for everyone

The United Way of Palm Beach County has ongoing volunteer opportunities for a number of causes, so you’re sure to find something that fits your passion. For example, picking fresh mangoes for homeless people, painting local homes, creating literacy kits, or helping out at a food bank.

To find a volunteer event that’s right for you, visit unitedwaypbc.org/get-involved/volunteer

Mark your calendar

The Palm Beach County Food Bank is gearing up for its Fourth Annual Back-to-School Food Drive this August. Keep an eye out, because in July they’ll be releasing drop off locations throughout the community. Last year, 19 libraries and community partners were a part of it!

If you or someone you care about is in need of any of the services listed above, reach out to the organization for assistance.

Christiana Lilly
Christiana Lilly
Christiana Lilly is the editor in chief of at Boca magazine, where she enjoys putting a spotlight on the Boca Raton and Palm Beach County community through both print and digital. Previously, she was the company's web editor. An award-winning journalist, she is the past president of the Society of Professional Journalists Florida chapter and a proud graduate of the University of Florida.

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