08/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Five Ways To Make New York A Better Place

President Obama has called on Americans to make this a summer of service., and with beautiful weather expected and a post-4th of July BBQ lull, this is the perfect time for New Yorkers to take up that call. Here's a list of the top five opportunities in and around the Big Apple this weekend:

1. Get Your Feet Wet

Remove tires and trash from the Shiawassee River. Bring your own canoe or flat-bottom boat, or rent one there. Spend the day floating along the peaceful river and doing a good dead! Check out this website for all the details.


Volunteer to crew the South Street Seaport Museum's schooner, the Pioneer. While there's no experience necessary, you'll need to attend two on-boat training sessions, so get started this weekend and you'll have plenty of time to volunteer before the summer is over. Visit the museum's website to fill out an application.

3. For the Land Lubbers among us

Roll up your sleeves and spend the day in any one of New York's many community gardens. Most welcome volunteers during open hours on the weekends, but check the garden's website first to be sure. The Clinton Community Garden is open to volunteers this Sunday and La Paz Cultural and the Liz Christy Garden are open on Saturday. Or check out the New York Community Garden Database to find a community garden near you.

4. Take Fido for a Walk

Man's best friend sometimes needs a friend too. Give some of your time this weekend to walk a dog from a local animal shelter. It won't take more than an hour, and , hey, it's good exercise. Check out this Long Island-based shelter, or find one where you are. Or, if you can't resist those puppy-dog eyes, become a foster parent and take the pooch home with you for a short or long-term stay until it's adopted.

5. Cook for the Community

For a warm and fuzzy feeling that's not so furry, spend a few hours at a soup kitchen. The Village Temple Soup Kitchen serves 150 homeless and needy people every Saturday in Greenwich Village, and they could certainly use a hand. Or, check out the New York City Coalition Against Hunger website for an opportunity to cook up a good deed in your own neighborhood.

So take up the president's call, get out there, start volunteering!

And send us your stories. We want to hear all the ways you're serving the community.

As a counterpoint to the (justifiably) gloomy tone of much reporting about the economic crisis, HuffPost is highlighting stories of service, local heroes, and acts of kindness (random and otherwise). If you read about or hear about uplifting stories or good deeds in your community (or do a good deed yourself), please let us know by emailing

Get HuffPost Eyes&Ears on Facebook and Twitter!