Making a Difference

Want a memorable weekend? Here are opportunities to volunteer and do good—from mentoring a child to helping seniors to saving the Chesapeake Bay.

You can help save the Chesapeake Bay, whether by picking up trash or planting underwater grasses. Photograph courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Travel > Nearby Getaways > Great Weekends

A Weekend Not Soon Forgotten

If you’re interested in volunteering at Camp Forget-Me-Not (see box at right), applications are available at or by calling 202-624-0010. This year’s camp is August 1 to 3; applications are due June 13.

Volunteers help in many ways; some are paired with a child to do everything with the camper, from therapeutic art and swimming to meals and grief groups. Volunteers have to be at least 21 years old, must submit to a criminal-background check, and must have experienced the death of someone close to them at some point in their life.

More Chances to Help a Child

Make a difference in a young person’s life by being a Big Brother or Big Sister on weekdays or weekends. Contact 301-794-9170 or

Looking to make an even bigger commitment to a child in need? You can mentor a foster child, ages 12 and older, every weekend for three months.

The Weekend Miracles KidSave program (202-280-6335; matches foster kids with mentors or host parents to broaden the child’s horizon—and, perhaps, create a miracle. Hosts spend two weekends a month, for four months, getting to know a child by participating in fun and educational activities and putting the child up for the weekend. The child is also introduced to friends of the hosts to create bonds with other adults, which may lead to adoption. 

Animal Attraction

Don’t have a pet but want to spend time with an animal? The Washington Animal Rescue League needs animal lovers to walk dogs and play with cats and dogs on weekdays or weekends. Call 202-726-2556 or see

Other shelters need extra hands, including the Montgomery County Humane Society in Rockville (240-773-5960; and the SPCA of Northern Virginia in Arlington (703-799-9390; 

Day for the Bay

Join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on May 3 to plant trees and shrubs in Charles Town, West Virginia, to help restore wetlands. Equipment and refreshments provided. Contact Marcy Damon at 443-482-2156 or

The CBF’s Clean the Bay day is June 7. Last year more than 6,000 volunteers removed over 200,000 pounds of trash from the shoreline. Cleanups begin in Chesapeake, Harrisonburg, Norfolk, and other cities within the bay’s watershed. To register, call 800-728-3229 or see

Special Deliveries

If you have a car and a free hour or two on Saturdays, you might sign up to bring food to homebound seniors as part of Iona Senior Services Weekend Meal Delivery Program (202-895-9425; Volunteers meet at the Iona building in Northwest DC at 10:15 am to bag up food. You can deliver meals just one Saturday a month or ask to be contacted only when needed.

Or help adults and children with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other illnesses get meals by volunteering a few hours on Saturdays or weekdays at Food & Friends (202-269-6835; Volunteers sort groceries, slice and dice food, or put cooked food into containers. If you have a car, you can help pick up and deliver meals in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. 

More Ways to Make a Difference

Greater DC Cares (202-777-4447; maintains an extensive list of one-time volunteer events throughout the region. After an orientation, volunteers receive a weekly e-mail listing opportunities to serve.

Volunteer Match (415-241-6868, also has a database of volunteer opportunities, which is searchable by Zip code and then by date.

Most area counties maintain Web sites about volunteer opportunities for residents. These include Volunteer Fairfax, Arlington County Volunteer Office, Loudoun Volunteer Services, Alexandria Volunteer Bureau, Voluntary Action Center of the Prince William Area, Montgomery County Volunteer Center, Prince George’s Volunteer Center, and Volunteer Frederick.

If you want to combine a weekend in Maine or a journey to Tibet with charity, log onto for information on volunteering around the world. Or check out the Ritz-Carlton’s new Give Back Getaways (, in which travelers staying at any Ritz can sign up to lend a hand in the community they’re visiting.