Carl Craft

Carl Craft

Carl Craft

As people begin the season of "Thanksgiving", these are places you could volunteer on the Jersey Shore as a way to give back to the community.

A lot of people consider themselves to be lucky as the year wraps up.  Good health, good family, success bring in a feeling of wellbeing and thankfulness at years’ end.  Some good hearted people turn that feeling into action for their local community.  People take action in the form of volunteerism in their local community.  I took a moment to jot down some places that you could volunteer as the season of giving is upon us.

Should I Just Donate Money?

Donating money is always a helpful thing.  There’s definitely times that donating your hard earned dollars makes the most sense.  For example, many times victims of natural disasters need dollars not time to get their lives put back together.  Sometimes a food bank can buy more with a dollar than you can.

However, in other circumstances donating your time goes beyond the dollars to help local organizations get their job done.  For example, sorting food donations at a food bank.  Putting together emergency care packages.  Actually cooking meals or cleaning the kitchen that makes them; those are the tough, in-person volunteering jobs that make a big difference.

Volunteering Puts You In “the mix”

Any one of these places you could volunteer is a great way to give back to your community.  Volunteering for local charities brings you closer to the community.  In many cases, you will actually meet the people you’re helping.  In many of these cases you’ll be volunteering on the front lines.  You’ll be in good company as you meet other volunteers who care about the community in the same way as you.  And if you’ve brought your kids along with you, they’ll learn an important lesson about giving back.

Roll up your sleeves and donate your precious time to these local organizations and you’ll be part of a community in a larger and more meaningful way.  It’s a great thing to do during the holiday season.  The feeling of giving back goes a long way.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to get involved year-round.

Also, if possible, join us at our annual “Live Broadcast for the People of New Jersey“.

  • Habitat For Humanity

    I’ve been involved with Habitat For Humanity since my high school days.  Well, truth be told, my mom got me involved as a bit of free labor.  But I enjoyed the impact it made.  For the last 8 years, WRAT has partnered with a local Habitat Community to build the “House That Rock Built”.  We’re currently on our 8th home.  I’m very proud of the station’s efforts.

    There’s tons of opportunities to volunteer for Habitat For Humanity in your local community.  Whether or not the opportunity exists at this time of year, you’ll have to find out for yourself.  I can say this, however:  Their build projects need experienced help in leadership.  So if you’ve spent time in the construction industry, this is a great way to put your skills to really worthwhile use.  Click here to find a Habitat community near you.

    On a Habitat For Humanity build with a listener.

    My social media friend Lori shared this picture of us on a Habitat “House That Rock Built” build site.

  • Fulfill

    Fulfill, formerly the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, is the main beneficiary of WRAT’s annual “Live Broadcast for the People of New Jersey”. We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of pounds of food thanks to your generosity. But did you know that volunteer help is also desperately needed.  Imagine all the donated food pouring in, someone has to sort it and check it.  That’s just one of the ways the volunteers are put to good work at Fulfill.  Other volunteers help with an actual garden during growing season.  Still other volunteers help with mobile distribution.  Volunteers must be 13 or older.  Click here for volunteer information.

  • Just Believe

    Just Believe is a local non-profit organization whose goal is to reduce the homeless population in Ocean County.  Director and founder Paul Hulse is a man who puts his passion and faith on the line for disenfranchised people every day.  From delivering meals to those in housing crisis to the ultimate goal of a return and reintegration into society, Paul and his team are dedicated.  Operating on a shoestring budget, volunteers are what keep Just Believe’s mission going.  Volunteers could be delivering meals and survival kits directly to homeless people one day, work their thrift store another day or help welcome and check people in during “Code Blue” events when it gets too cold outside.  Click here for more information.


  • Hands of Hope

    Hands of Hope is located in Middlesex County and they operate a full food pantry and soup kitchen for the surrounding areas.  Sorting food, boxing up food for delivery.  Helping set up and clean up their community events. There’s a lot of volunteer opportunity at Hands of Hope.  Just like Fulfill above, all volunteers must pre-register in advance for all activities.  Click here for volunteer opportunities.

  • Lunch Break

    Lunch Break began as a simple mission, to provide short term assistance that struggling families needed to get through the day.  However in the many years that Lunch Break has been serving the Monmouth County community, they have expanded their mission into more than food.  Lunch Break has expanded into sharing life skills and job readiness with the goal of giving people the tools to life themselves beyond their current struggles.  Many people consider volunteering for Lunch Break to be more than giving back; it becomes a way of life and a way to give your life more meaning.  Click here for more information.

  • Rolling Harvest Food Rescue

    When I was a young boy, my parents volunteered my family to be part of a “second harvest” group.  In the fall, we got permission to go to local commercial farms and pick the crops that had matured after the farmer had done their initial harvest.  It didn’t make financial sense for the farmer to pay people to pick the field again because the yield wasn’t big enough.  However, for volunteers to pick the vegetables to donate to a local food bank, well that made all the sense in the world.

    Rolling Harvest is a bit of a drive from the Jersey Shore, but my gut says that it’s really worth the volunteer experience.  Get more info by clicking here.

  • JBJ Soul Kitchen

    The restaurant where you pay what you can. More to the point, the restaurant serves paying customers and people in need. They boast a 3-course mean, based on “American” standards. A soup or salad choice, an entree and dessert. The menu at The Soul Kitchen has no prices so those who can pay choose the value they wish to contribute. In addition, they encourage a “pay it forward” program where those who are able can tack on $20 to their payment to buy a meal for someone in need.

    There’s two locations: Red Bank and Toms River. Volunteer positions range from all aspects of the restaurant culture. Click here for more information.

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