Ways to Give Back
Although most of the ideas below are framed for a team to carry out, individuals as well as sport organizations can also initiate these activities.
Look around your community – is litter scattered about your parks or green spaces? Are there any areas, empty lots, etc., that could be reclaimed for the community’s use? Choose a place that could be cleaned up and get your whole team or organization together for a few hours. Invite parents and other members of the community to join in. With rubber gloves and garbage bags for all, clean up a part of town and make it more inviting and accessible to the people in your community.
Connect with Elders
Elect a team ambassador to introduce your team or organization to the program manager of a local retirement facility. Together, you can come up with ways to interact with the residents. Be creative – set up a visit or an ongoing visit program, a penpal system through which you share team photos and stories, or invite residents to attend a game.
Hold a Charity Fundraiser
Find out what your athletes are passionate about, besides sport! Brainstorm a list of local charities with your athletes to identify ones that the group would like to support. Come up with a fun and easy fundraiser that engages the community – sell raffle tickets or create an “a-thon” event that contributes to your training. Be sure to invite people in the community to participate too. Alternatively, you could participate in a pre-existing charity race, walking event or stair climb (e.g., Run for the Cure, Terry Fox Run, Easter Seals Walk, etc.)
Volunteer as a Team
Identify a non-profit fundraising event or charitable activity taking place in your community and volunteer your time. Charitable galas, community celebrations or events, building homes for those less fortunate, preparing and serving food at a mission, packing boxes at a food bank, or activities that will help make your community more environmentally sustainable. These events rely on enthusiastic and dependable volunteers that can work together as a team.
Be a Reading Buddy
Encourage each of your athletes to organize a visit to a classroom to read to younger students. Alternatively, athletes could pair up with a younger child at their school or at a local elementary school. The athlete could arrange to meet the child once a month at lunch time to read with them.
Hold a Free Car Wash
People often organize a car wash as a fundraiser. Why not make it free!? Donate your time to brighten up someone else’s day. You may even inspire other community members to find ways to give-back as well!
Adopt a Sick Kid Ward
Elect a team ambassador to introduce your team or organization to a local hospital’s peadiatric ward. Together, you can identify ways that you can interact with the kids during their stay in the hospital. There are lots of creative ways to connect with them – consider a penpal system where you share stories with the whole ward or volunteer to read or play with the kids. You could also set up a virtual team visit where you record one of your practices or games and take a few minutes for each player to speak to the kids.
Help Revitalize a Local Cemetery
Cemetaries are places that should be respected and maintained in a clean and beautiful way. Elect a team ambassador to speak with the grounds keeper to offer the services of your team or organization on a clean up or landscaping project. This type of community involvement is a very unique and selfless way for a team to show respect and appreciation for past members of the community.
Make a Sporting Community Cookbook
Get the whole team or organization involved by asking for and collecting favourite recipes from players, parents, coaches, officials and spectators. Ask these contributors to chip in a few dollars to help fund the production of the cookbook or ask local businesses to sponsor the production. The recipes can be compiled into a cookbook and sold with proceeds being donated to a local charity.
Discuss what it means to be a good mentor and determine which individuals would like to make a long-term commitment. Connect these individuals with local agencies that provide mentorship services to children and youth (e.g., Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Best Buddies, local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club).
Host a “Try A Sport” Event
Invite community members, young and old, who have no experience in your sport to learn more about it. Teach them some of the basic skills of the sport and explain the rules of play. Most importantly, have fun! This introductory event could motivate individuals to join a league.
Visit Community Workers
Organize a visit with some of the people that work hard to make your community a better place: a local police department, a fire station, a food bank, or city hall. Be sure to represent yourself as a team or organization and extend invitations to these community members to attend your next game!
Connect with Your Local Service Clubs and Charities
Service clubs and charities are often the pulse of a community as they are involved in multiple community development initiatives. Contact your local service clubs (e.g., Lions, Kiwanis, Shriners, Rotary, etc.) and charities (e.g., food bank, mission, soup kitchen, United Way, community foundations, etc.) to learn more about community project that may need your support and contributions.
To contact an organization where you can volunteer or donate your event proceeds, consider: