UTAH (ABC4) – Volunteering is a great way for those passionate about a cause to enhance the efforts they care about, while also enjoying immense skill-building and health benefits.

According to HelpGuide.org, researchers have found serving others can combat depression and increase happiness. Volunteering can also provide career opportunities and a sense of purpose. But more than anything, it’s just a nice thing to do.

If you’re looking for a place to donate your time and energy by rolling up your sleeves as a volunteer, Utah has tons of places to do so. Here are a few notable causes to volunteer for in the Beehive State:

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

A couple of volunteer guests interact with a pig at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. (Courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society)

Those passing through Southern Utah who are looking for a place to spend volunteer hours would be remised to not visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Located near Kanab, the sanctuary is a facility that protects and houses around 1,600 animals at a time. Volunteers get up close and personal with the animals by cleaning their living areas, providing them with company, taking them on walks, and even making them toys.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah

Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah

To create positive relationships that can last a lifetime, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah matches children in difficult situations — such as impoverished or single-parent homes — with an older mentor to provide guidance, trust, and more than anything, friendship. This relationship, which is made possible after careful interviewing and vetting, can be just as impactful for the “Bigs” as it is for the “Littles.”

Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity

Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity

“A world where everyone has a decent place to live,” is the vision for the Salt Valley Habitat for Humanity. Since 1986, the foundation has had a hand in building nearly 100 homes in the area, giving 350 people a better place to live. The cycle is set to continue indefinitely as the zero-interest mortgage that the families in the homes pay goes towards building more homes. Interested volunteers can help with the actual construction of a house, lend a hand at the foundation’s home improvement thrift store, or even travel abroad to build with Global Village.

Utah Food Bank

Courtesy of Utah Food Bank

The Utah Food Bank locations thrive on donations of food for families in need, as well as volunteer hours to organize the products and get them ready for distribution. Projects that helpers can work on include sorting donations, assembling food boxes, repacking bulk items into family-sized amounts, or labeling food for distribution. Volunteering as a family is very popular, as the Food Bank claims family shifts are often booked six months in advance.

Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center

Courtesy of Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center

This resource center for women opened just a few years ago in 2019, but has already done tons of impactful work. Operated by Volunteers of America, the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center gives homeless women in the Salt Lake City area a safe haven from any number of difficult or dangerous situations. The center can provide emergency shelter to 200 women at a time and also provides basic essentials such as food, clothing, hygiene kits, as well as places to do laundry and shower. Volunteers can reach out and help build hygiene kits or assist with other needs at the facility.

Catholic Community Services St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall

Courtesy of Catholic Community Services

The St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall run by Catholic Community Services welcomes anyone of any faith who is at or below 185% of the federal poverty line to enjoy a hot meal twice a day. Located near the Rio Grande district of downtown Salt Lake City, the dining hall is a busy place, serving over 500,000 meals per year. With such a high demand, and a location near an area with a high transient population, volunteers are needed for prep work such as chopping and peeling vegetables, labeling containers, washing dishes, and serving the meals.

The above is not a complete list of places for families and individuals to volunteer, but they are great places to start. No matter which cause is nearest and dearest to your heart, you’ll be able to find a place to make a difference in Utah.