'Tis the season of giving, and if you're interested in giving back, what better way than to sign up to be a volunteer in Shenzhen?
Below, we give a brief rundown on the many ways you can join public volunteer groups around the city, or make some other kind of contribution for a good cause.
From the Futian Volunteer website
It's as easy as that. If you're fluent in Chinese, there are a wide variety of roles and opportunities open to you as a volunteer. Learn more about them and sign up on Shenzhen's official volunteer website.
Even if your Mandarin could use some work, there are still opportunities available, especially if you know about or have interest in teaching English.
For instance, if you’re over 10 years old and have a basic understanding of Chinese, you’re qualified to volunteer in Futian. Simply fill out the form on the official site (English) and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nanshan District also has an 'international volunteer team' that's open to join. To apply, fill out and submit this online form. Follow official WeChat account '志愿南山' to learn more.
You don't necessarily have to live in Nanshan or Futian to join either group. According to organizer Luca Mei, Futian District accepts volunteers from any area of Shenzhen, and residential requirements for the Nanshan group seem similarly loose.
Call a Volunteer Union
Learn what opportunities are available in your area by calling – or asking a Chinese-fluent friend to help contact – any of the following volunteer subgroups.
Bao'an District Volunteer Union
Contact: Ye Yingsong (叶映松)
Phone: 2787 0964
Dapeng New District Volunteer Union
Contact: Li Yuemin (李月敏)
Phone: 2833 3645
Futian District Volunteer Union
Contact: Peng Shigui (彭士圭)
Phone: 8307 3637
Guangming New District Volunteer Union
Contact: Huang Haigen (黄海根)
Phone: 8821 2355
Longgang District Volunteer Union
Contact: Zhang Xinyue (张馨月)
Phone: 2890 2320
Longhua District Volunteer Union
Contact: Tang Zubin (唐祖斌)
Phone: 8171 8490
Luohu District Volunteer Union
Contact: Xing Yan (邢雁)
Phone: 2552 2222
Nanshan District Volunteer Union
Phone: 0755-2666 2414/2661 5439
Pingshan District Volunteer Union
Contact: Wei Junli (魏军丽)
Phone: 8462 2920
Yantian District Volunteer Union
Contact: Wei Pengju (卫鹏举)
More info about even more groups here (Chinese).
Visit a U Station (U站)
Built out of shipping containers and environmentally friendly materials, these funny-looking stands around Shenzhen number in the hundreds and are a vital platform for the city’s volunteer network.
Services offered at each station vary, but U Stations' overall purpose is to guide lost pedestrians, help children and the elderly, and host the occasional helpful event.
A prominent stand at Futian’s Lianhuashan Park, for instance, offers a wide range of services. As volunteer Zhang Chunye explained, the U station provides not only directions and free water (mainly for kids and older folks), but also walking aids, umbrellas, first aid, sewing kits, phone chargers, and an air pump for bikes.
A volunteer at a local U Station is likely to know of any events going on, and possibly even opportunities to help out in the area. As a plus, some also speak English, making asking about activities that much easier.
Contribute to a Cause
Captivating International's Santa Run earlier this month
You don't have to be a volunteer to give back. This month alone, Shenzhen is hosting at least four holiday-themed events that contribute to charity in one way or another. Find them in the events section of our Christmas holiday guide.
The city also hosts various groups like A Heart for China (WeChat ID 'AHeartForChina'), which supports orphans, the elderly and children with disabilities, plus regular charitable events.
Last but not least, there are drop-off boxes for gently used clothes and other items scattered around Shenzhen, often in front of the city's community service centers (社区服务中心).
Know more ways Shenzheners can give to charity or help out around the city? Let us know by leaving a comment!
[Images via Futian Volunteers, Bailey Hu]