Sometimes you just need to get out of town, like, pronto. The good news is you can do good while also giving yourself the break you need from the neighborhood. Here are some of our favorite day trips for good.
From Philadelphia: Rodale Institute
Skip Center City for the farm. The Rodale Institute have been organic pioneers since 1947. PBS called it "the birthplace of organic farming in America." As a volunteer, you can give your time in the fields, in the greenhouse, or in the farm store, soaking up fresh air, good vibes, and wholesome food before heading back to city life.
Not near Philly? Search for farms that practice sustainability near you, such as CSAs, on Local Harvest or check out the one-day opportunities through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) USA.
From Denver: Wild Animal Sanctuary
About thirty miles from Denver, the Wild Animal Sanctuary offers nearly 10,000 acres of species-specific habitats as forever homes for large, exotic and endangered captive wild animals. Tigers, lions, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, leopards, wolves, camels and much more roam the land. While this isn't a place for drop-in volunteers, there are other opportunities to help out including adopting an animal and attending a summer safari dinner.
Not near Denver? Search for wildlife sanctuaries near you, or hit up a rural SPCAI to help give dogs exercise and attention.
From Los Angeles: GrowGood
On 1.5-acres of fruit trees and raised vegetable beds, GrowGood uses healthy food and gardening as healing tool for residents of the Bell Shelter. "I haven't bought lettuce for our salad bar in a long time thanks to GrowGood," Amy Carillo, head chef of the Bell Shelter, said. "This is an amazing accomplishment since we serve over 6,000 meals per week." With regularly scheduled farm work days, there are plenty of opportunities to help feed—and heal—the hungry.
Not near Los Angeles? Search for homeless shelters and soup kitchens that need help serving meals, and see if they have a garden program that needs an extra set of hands.
From New York City: Hudson River Clean-Up
Each year, at more than one hundred locations along the shores of the Hudson River, volunteers gather for the Riverkeeper Sweep. Since 2011, more than 10,000 volunteers from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks have cleared 191 tons of debris, planted 2,228 trees and native grasses, and removed tons of invasive species.
Not near New York City? You're still likely near a beloved body of water with public access, be it a river, lake or beach. Search for "clean up days."
From Portland, Oregon: Duchess Sanctuary
About two hundred rescued horses, ponies, and donkeys live at Duchess Sanctuary on 1,100 acres of pastures and woodlands and the sanctuary. Formerly abused, abandoned, neglected, and homeless, the animals now live the bucolic good life with the help of volunteers.
Not near Portland? There are many horse rescue facilities, especially throughout the western United States. Search to see if there's a sanctuary near you. If you love horses but can't find a sanctuary, you might also see if there's an horse therapy barn near you in search of volunteers.
From Anywhere: National and State Parks
In many places in the country, there's a National or State Park within striking distance. Contact the one nearest you to see if they need any trail work done or offer other volunteer opportunities. Facing new budget cuts, these national treasures need help more than ever.
The unexpected benefit of doing good is feeling good. And not just I-took-a-mini-break good but deeply good. In the words of ever-wise and hopeful Barack Obama: "The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don't wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope."
Amen to that.