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23 Volunteer Ideas in Hawai‘i

Here’s our guide to giving back, from removing invasive species to decorating theater sets.


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Sometimes you’d rather be around animals than people (especially after the holidays). Whether you’re working with animals directly or from a distance, keep in mind that they can be unpredictable.


Mālama Nā Honu

Become a honu guardian at Laniākea Beach, where you will set up ropes around basking turtles and educate visitors about them. Volunteers must be 18 or older and sign up for at least two three-hour shifts a month, starting with a training session and two shadow shifts. malamanahonu.org/volunteer.asp



The Monk Seal Foundation

Photo: Odeelo Dayondon

Get one look at a monk seal’s face and just try not to smile. You can’t pet the lovable creatures, but you can do one better and help protect them. Click here to read our recent story on monk seal volunteers. monksealfoundation.org/oahuvolunteering.aspx



The O‘ahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Volunteering for the SPCA is great, but you can play an even bigger part by fostering animals until they are adopted. Shelters are often overcrowded, so temporarily fostering an animal will not only make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (and out!), it’ll help free kennel space for newly rescued critters. Some animals may only need a few days; others may be with you for months, so prepare to provide proper care as well as medical treatment. Foster parents must be 21 or older and have their landlord’s permission. oahuspca.com/foster

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Honolulu Zoo Society

Come to a “Walk-in-Wednesday” to meet the zoo’s volunteer director and discuss the many opportunities at Honolulu Zoo. You’ll have to fill out a few forms, submit your TB clearance, get a background check, buy a $20 volunteer shirt and, if you want to work in the mammal section, attend an Animal Emergency Training workshop. There is a minimum time commitment of one shift per week for six months, each shift running three or four hours. Assistance is needed for the Keiki Zoo, education programs, the docent program, events and other sections. Depending on the section, volunteers under 18 may be welcome. honoluluzoo.org/volunteer.html

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“When considering to volunteer or donate to a nonprofit, people should first think about their passion for giving back, then look at organizations that are clear about their mission and can show the difference they are making in the community,” says Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. Also, think about your interests and skills. To find other opportunities not mentioned here, click here.


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Honolulu Magazine February 2020