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August 14, 2009 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Where can I pick up strenuous physical labor in DC on an occasional, volunteer, or (extremely) part-time basis?

The academic year is about to pick up again and I know by the second week of class I'm going to feel like a slug. The last two weeks or so I've been hobbling around on several broken toes and unable to run or bike seriously, so the cabin fever is starting even earlier than usual. I'm looking for something I can do a few hours a week on an inconsistent schedule, with emphasis on weekends: if it's paid, great, but I'd also be interested in work for a suitable nonprofit. I don't think I can commit enough time to do Habitat for Humanity. Here's the sort of stuff I'm looking for, and it'd be even better if this was stuff I was doing by myself:

Splitting wood
Stacking/moving heavy things
Load truck with heavy stuff, drive 15 mins to place, unload truck
Break down pallets or similar wood frames
Help a bricklayer
Warehouse work

Thanks in advance. N.B.: I am not interested in anything that has me within 50 feet of stuffing envelopes or any other sort of office work.
posted by Inspector.Gadget to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Go to Frager's and put up a notice advertising your services. Frager's itself would have you work *every* weekend, unless they have changed their policy, which I doubt. But you could ask Nick even so.

There are probably groups helping spiff up schools; check the Hill Rag or the like. Also check out volunteer stuff at the Arboretum.
posted by jgirl at 5:11 PM on August 14, 2009

Labor Ready is a temp service which will send you out to manual labor on a day labor basis. They will make you wait in their office with the kind of folks that work day labor until they find you a job, though. With the help of some spare cigarettes, and an open mind, you could meet some interesting and/or scary folks.
posted by idiopath at 6:02 PM on August 14, 2009

Habitat for Humanity will give you construction work of all kinds.
posted by anadem at 6:03 PM on August 14, 2009

Oops, I'm not a good reader. But I worked for Habitat without having to make any commitments, just occasional days of really hard work.
posted by anadem at 6:04 PM on August 14, 2009

Stacking/moving heavy things
Load truck with heavy stuff, drive 15 mins to place, unload truck
Break down pallets or similar wood frames
Warehouse work

These tasks seem like something one would do in the warehouse of a large food pantry or homeless organization to me.

Also, Goodwill or other large charity organization?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:33 PM on August 14, 2009

I don't know where you are, but contact your closest zoo. They'd probably be thrilled to take you on as a volunteer.
posted by Neofelis at 7:08 PM on August 14, 2009

Oh, duh, you said you're in DC. I know there are zoos there!
posted by Neofelis at 7:09 PM on August 14, 2009

Also try one of the hiking clubs to help with trail work, or an animal shelter for all kinds of stuff (wrangling huge bags of stuff, walking/socializing animals, etc.).
posted by jgirl at 7:19 PM on August 14, 2009

A lot of parks have volunteer events, organized either through the park itself or through hiking or environmental organizations and the like. There tend to be a lot of events in the fall as they try to get things straightened up before winter. I've spent weekends collecting seeds from native plants, building boardwalks, digging up invasive species, and hacking out patches of blackberry, so there's a pretty wide range of tasks available. Plus, they tend to be one-day events, so you can show up as your schedule allows.
posted by adiabat at 7:30 PM on August 14, 2009

Here is some information on local work doing trail building and maintenance. The outdoor, grunt work of trail building (hiking or mountain biking) may appeal to you, although it's not something you generally do alone.
posted by BlooPen at 8:48 PM on August 14, 2009

Be a workshare volunteer at a CSA like Clagett Farm. Clagett Farm (blog) donates 30-40% of it's annual crop yield to DC programs serving low income families. In exchange for 4 hours of work in the fields, you take home a full week's share of fresh, organic, local produce. You may volunteer as little or as often as you like with no additional obligation. A workshare allows you to enjoy physical labor outside, learn about local agriculture practices, contribute directly to food that you eat, and help feed the hungry.
posted by skenfrith at 11:49 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why not join me and do the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training? Our first practice is Sept 12! Memail me and I'll give you the contact info.
posted by parmanparman at 10:03 AM on August 15, 2009

Response by poster: I can't commit to any team-style work or charitable events for about the next year, at least. I really only have a few hours a week and I'd like to do something that's physically demanding in terms of strength and strength-endurance (versus cardiovascular endurance). Generally, the closer to splitting wood or generally moving heavy things, the better.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:09 PM on August 15, 2009

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