Hillsborough County supports many nonprofit, charitable groups that rely on volunteers.
The upcoming holiday season puts a spotlight on these organizations and their diverse missions, though help is needed throughout the year.
Kendra Williams became a volunteer with Metropolitan Ministries about one year ago. She was feeling down when she heard about the charity and decided to help.
"It put things in perspective," she says. "I had a roof, food, clothing, a family. Many of these people didn't."
As an outreach volunteer at Metropolitan Ministries, she helps people in need get jobs, food, and medical care. "Sometimes people find themselves in a cycle they can't get out of, unless somebody reaches out," Williams says. "Just one person can make that difference."
Want to help? Here are some of the charities that partner with Hillsborough County, what they do, and websites that tell how to get involved:
Hillsborough County government has lots of opportunities for people to volunteer at parks and preserves, with seniors or children, at the Pet Resource Center, and in other capacities. Take our interactive quiz to find out which volunteer activities might be best for you.
Metropolitan Ministries assists homeless and potentially homeless children and families, regardless of their needs. The Tampa-based charity has many openings for volunteers, especially during the holiday season.
United Way Suncoast provides leadership and resources to enhance the education and financial stability of everyone in the Tampa Bay region. It mobilizes people and groups to give, advocate, and volunteer.
The Salvation Army provides an array of services and programs in Hillsborough County. It helps people cope with natural disasters, navigate the criminal justice system, and find wholesome activities for children and families, among other missions.
Feeding Tampa Bay provides food to people in need, "because no one should go hungry." Individual and group volunteers are needed to sort non-perishable items, pack produce, stock shelves, and tackle other duties.
The University Area Community Development Corp. focuses on at-risk neighborhoods surrounding much of the University of South Florida's main campus. Its primary missions are children and family development, crime prevention, and economic growth.
The Arts Council of Hillsborough County supports, promotes, and advances arts and culture. It's the umbrella agency for cultural organizations throughout the area. Volunteers help operations at Hillsborough County museums, theaters, festivals, and other locations and events.
Enterprising Latinas strives to help women, especially Latinas, attain skills and knowledge that will benefit their economic futures, as well as those of the communities in which they live. The Wimauma-based agency welcomes volunteers.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay reaches out to people struggling with sexual abuse, domestic violence, financial distress, substance abuse, medical emergencies, suicidal thoughts and other challenges. There are many ways to get involved.
Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County relies on volunteers and families to build residences that enhance the families' lives and, in turn, contribute to building better communities.
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful promotes community service and environmental stewardship. There are lots of ways to get involved with this organization. Among them: plant trees, pick up litter, restore habitat, beautify parks, and maintain roads, parks, and shorelines.