Take Time to Make Your Myrtle Beach Vacation Meaningful

The holiday season may be over, but the joy of giving can last all year long. For folks who have discovered that it truly is better to give than receive, you don’t have to take a break from your volunteer work just because you go on vacation.

The Myrtle Beach area offers a wealth of ways to enrich your vacation through volunteerism. If you are already involved with a national organization or have a church affiliation, there’s a good chance you will find a local chapter or congregation offering similar opportunities to serve. Or, if you prefer to connect with the local community where you make your vacation home, there are lots of grassroots groups on the Grand Strand. For our guests at Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort, here are some of the more popular places to lend a hand in the Myrtle Beach area:

* Animal Shelters: Love animals? Here's a chance to help the four-legged friends of the area by volunteering at the Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach. Feed the animals, take them for a walk, or help out in the office by contacting the GSHS at www.grandstrandhumanesociety.com.

Help the feral cats of the area by volunteering as a trapper to help catch and carry stray cats to area low-cost spay/neuter clinics. This group has sponsored more than 1,700 procedures to help reduce the number of homeless cats and kittens in the area. Volunteers accompany a group with experience in the field. For more information, visit www.bikinibeachcatrescue.org.

* Churches/Religious Organizations: Many visitors like to connect with a local church of their affiliation to continue the mission work they perform back home. The Grand Strand has a diverse religious community committed to service, including operating homeless shelters and food banks. To link up with the denomination of your choice and see what volunteering opportunities are available in the area, visit www.sciway.net/org/religmyrtlebeach.

* Elderly/Special Needs: Put a smile on someone's face and some food in their belly by volunteering at the local chapter of Meals on Wheels to deliver free hot meals to homebound residents.  Visit www.mowhc.org for info on how to volunteer. The Neighbor to Neighbor project in nearby Surfside Beach provides transportation for the elderly and special needs clients with free rides to the grocery store, doctor's appointments and other errands in the small beach community. For more information, visit www.gracefullyaging.org.

* Homeless/Hungry: The Grand Strand offers a variety of services to the homeless and hungry, and the organizations doing the work include the Myrtle Beach-based Coastal Rescue Mission (www.coastalrescuemission.org/volunteer) and the Community Kitchen of Myrtle Beach (www.communitykitchenmb.org/volunteer). Volunteers can work in the kitchen to provide free meals, assist in tutoring and mentoring programs, and more. Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach (www.helpinghandofmyrtlebeach.com/volunteer.php) provides special assistance to those in need by operating a food pantry that relies on volunteers to visit local grocery stores and collect donated food items.

* Manual Labor: For those who like to work up a little sweat, Habitat for Humanity of Horry County offers hands-on opportunities to build homes for deserving and needy families. Skilled workers are always in demand, but anyone who can hold a paintbrush can pitch in. To find a current project, visit www.habitatmb.org.

* Schools: Local schools welcome volunteers to spend their free time connecting with students between kindergarten and 12th grade. Visitors with unique skills and experiences can be matched with the right students to serve as mentors. Volunteers can provide a variety of services as assigned by the county school board, but they must first submit to a background check for approval. For more info, visit www.bib.com/SecureVolunteer/Horry-County-Schools/.

After doing your volunteer duty, resume your vacation activities at Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort. Enjoy the waterslides, indoor and outdoor pools, and all the fun things Myrtle Beach has to offer. You’ve earned it.

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