How students can get more involved in the Lakeland community


Angela Revels
Staff Writer

One of Lakeland’s greatest assets is its strong sense of community. Whether someone is  interested in volunteering for local organizations, joining community events, or participating in neighborhood clean-up efforts, there are endless ways to get involved and contribute to the community.

Lakeland Community Theatre

The Lakeland Community Theatre is a volunteer-run theater that consistently stages new shows, offering opportunities for community members to audition and actively participate in the performing arts scene. Theater volunteers play a crucial role in the production process, assisting with set and prop design, costume creation, as well as selling concessions and tickets. The theater also gives back to the community through its scholarship program, offering a $1,000 award to a 2024 graduating high school senior who has demonstrated outstanding participation at the theater. 

Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) 

Established in 1983, VISTE is a community-based, volunteer-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to serving at-risk seniors in the Lakeland area. VISTE has a mission of enabling elderly individuals to maintain safety and independence within their own homes. 

VISTE volunteers are involved in a range of activities, such as sorting and packing food items, delivering groceries directly to seniors’ homes, providing transportation primarily for medical appointments, distributing hot meals, offering groceries, building ramps and more. With the assistance of over 1,000 community volunteers, these initiatives not only address the practical needs of the elderly, but also aim to lessen social isolation among clients, as many of them live alone.

Bonnet Springs Park

Bonnet Springs Park is an expansive green space that serves as an area for community engagement and outdoor recreation. Located near downtown Lakeland, the park spans over 180 acres and features a variety of amenities; walking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and a large lake for boating and fishing. 

One of the park’s highlights is the Children’s Museum, offering interactive exhibits and educational programs for young visitors. Whether it’s helping to maintain the trails, organizing educational activities for visitors, or lending a hand at the Children’s Museum, volunteers play a crucial role in ensuring that Bonnet Springs Park remains a welcoming and enjoyable destination for all. FSC alum and Bonnet Springs Park employee Natalie McGinnis assists these programs.

Keep Lakeland Beautiful, Inc.

Volunteers involved with Keep Lakeland Beautiful, Inc. actively participate in various cleanup activities throughout Lakeland, including picking up litter along lakeshores, roadways and public spaces. One can also adopt a roadway. Beyond cleanups, volunteers also engage in educational initiatives aimed at promoting environmental awareness and sustainability practices within the community. By dedicating their time and effort to these efforts, volunteers with Keep Lakeland Beautiful, Inc. contribute to creating a cleaner and greener Lakeland. 


In Polk County, Florida, the kidsPACK organization, a non-profit supported by community leaders, corporate sponsors and dedicated volunteers, is committed to addressing childhood hunger. Each Friday, they provide disadvantaged children with backpacks filled with nutritious food to sustain them over the weekend when access to subsidized school meals is limited. 

Volunteers are instrumental in this effort, contributing their time to pack these backpacks and ensure that every child receives the nourishment they need. KidsPACK not only addresses immediate food requirements, but also fosters a sense of community support and resilience among children facing adversity in Polk County, Florida.

Volunteering in the community is not just about giving back; it’s about building a stronger, more inclusive society. By dedicating time and efforts to organizations like kidsPACK and VISTE, one not only addresses huge social issues like childhood hunger, but also contributes to the overall well-being of the community. Lakeland offers numerous volunteer opportunities, catering to different interests and passions, ensuring there’s something for everyone to get involved in.


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