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Gifts That Keep Giving: Opportunities to Give Back in Boise

“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” ~ Jim Rohn Mariah Carey on the radio? Big sales at the store? Family recipes being dusted off? All of this can only mean one thing: Christmas is almost upon us. After the craziness of Black Friday, holiday cheer is sure to spike in the weeks to come. But this does not only mean presents under the tree and stockings over the fire. It is also a chance for those in the Boise community to get up, get out, and help out. Below you’ll find just some of the many opportunities to give back in Boise and around the area. These are not only limited to Christmas time – if you like what you see or what you are doing, consider jumping in all year long!

Because International & The Shoe That Grows

Because International was founded by Idaho native Kenton Lee after he returned from Kenya nearly a decade ago. While living and serving there, Lee came up with the idea to develop shoes with adjustable sizes “for children who are living in poverty and are unable to get new shoes.” After over a year of development, the nonprofit is distributing the shoes and has given out over 65,000 pairs in at least eighty countries – including Idaho itself. You can find more information on the shoe and the organization’s volunteer opportunities in Boise here:

Idaho Youth Ranch

The Boise-based Idaho Youth Ranch has helped more than 30,000 families in its history. According to its mission statement, the organization’s goal is to create promising futures in the youth of Idaho through courageous transformations. The Idaho Youth Ranch assesses the need and circumstances, creates a support system for the individual, and treats the young person according to their needs. The organization has grown large, and (according to their website) there are many ways to get involved. From youth service programs to office projects, Idaho Youth Ranch has at least twenty unique volunteer opportunities across their four locations. Check out the individual volunteer opportunities in Boise here:

Boise Art Museum

This public art museum is almost entirely run on the power of volunteers. With exhibits ranging from artistic tales of slavery to new renditions of abstract art, the art museum represents a great way to engage with artistic culture in Idaho. The museum is also a great volunteer opportunity in Boise: it is an educational non-profit and open to interns and volunteers of all ages. As the website states, museum volunteers “greet patrons, take admission, and provide information about the museum and surrounding area.” In these roles, volunteers interact with museum visitors on a daily basis and are at the forefront of making visitors’ experiences enjoyable. The museum also has volunteer openings for more administrative roles, with office projects, membership drives, and special events all in need of volunteers. Ready to go? You can learn more and download the volunteer application here:

Boise Bicycle Project

Do you love cycling or simply enjoy being outdoors? This unique nonprofit is run as a community-centered cooperative aimed at promoting “the personal, social and environmental benefits of bicycling.” The organization runs as both a bicycle recycling center and an educational workspace for those looking to get into bicycling. The BBP Values include providing access to bicycles, encouraging sustainable recycling, building confidence regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, and providing a path of opportunity for kids. As a small nonprofit, the BBP is dependent on the hard work of volunteers; in 2015, volunteers worked nearly 7,000 hours to provide over 600 recycled bicycles to the community. The site makes it clear that this is a great volunteer opportunity in Boise: it is a “great way to learn how to work on bicycles, met other like-minded people in the community, and share your valuable skills.” The organization also clarifies that being interested in bicycles is not a prerequisite to becoming a volunteer.

Boise River Volunteers

The Boise River is one of the most beautiful parts of the city and the entire area. But the river does not stay in its pristine condition all on its own: the Boise River Volunteers work throughout the summer. The organization puts on weekly ‘clean-up floats’ to pick up the trash that accumulates during the busy summer months. This can be a fun, physical, and family-friendly way to the many volunteer opportunities in Boise and to give back to the community. As the site says, “It’s not an easy job keeping the Boise River safe and clean but it is a lot of fun!” The small organization welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to lend a helping hand. You can find the volunteer form here:

Boise Miracle

On December 26th, Old Chicago will work together with nonprofits and shelters in the Boise area to put on a Christmas dinner for over 1,000 of the city’s low income, working poor, and homeless. This event is entirely volunteer-run; volunteers staff the event like a restaurant, taking on serving, hosting, busing, plating, and food prepping roles. All in all, volunteers will help give guests an enjoyable, festive family Christmas celebration. You can find more information and registration here:

Saint Alphonsus

The Saint Alphonsus Health System provides holistic healthcare to the Boise community. With areas for cancer, cardiovascular, and emergency care the facility benefits a great many men, women, and families in the area. The hospital strikes to create “a foundation of medical excellence, innovation, and collaboration that makes the overall care all our patients receive that much better.” The facility is also open to volunteers and actually benefits from the work of hundreds of volunteers. According to Saint Alphonsus, volunteers become “a member of our team and help us build positive relationships with patients and family members.” If you’d like to start using your existing skills to help others, or even develop new ones, you can find the volunteer opportunities and contact here: