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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What to Do: Volunteer

Although volunteering in Russia is not yet a well-developed tradition and has its peculiarities, there are several organizations happy to use your free labor for a good cause.

World4U is probably the best choice for those seeking to boost their karma without damaging their peace of mind. This is where you may find an exciting and socially beneficial holiday, away from it all. Each summer, volunteers can choose from about 20 work camps with various projects and entertainment. It could be planting trees in Siberia, renovating a monastery in Valaam or collecting garbage by the Black Sea. World4U operates internationally -- that is, it invites foreigners and sends Russian volunteers abroad. Participants usually apply through the organization's branches in their home countries, but it might be useful to approach World4U for advice first.

A less joyful but maybe more important side of volunteering is represented by Volontery.ru. Renata Rozovskaya, an experienced volunteer herself, started the project in November 2006 to create a link between volunteers and charity organizations and bring some order to this chaotic field.

Volontery.ru is mostly concerned with orphans, disabled children, nursing homes and asylums. Someone has to take care of these people, because the state does not, Rozovskaya said. Volunteers often quit after a few months, however, discouraged by the lack of help from authorities and the absence of any visible results. The only way to cope with it, she said, is to work simply for the sake of working, not expecting any outcome. Volunteers can enroll simply by filling out the form on the Volontery.ru web site. Once you're down on the list you'll get requests for help, or you may write to any participating charity.

If you want to volunteer but don't know where to start, you might find some direction by joining the volunteers of the Red Cross. The work is much like that with Volontery.ru and no special skills or education are required -- volunteers can do well with some instructions from experienced staff and on-the-job training.

For friends of nature, a popular choice is Greenpeace. It needs help for both office work, including translating and designing, and outdoor activities, from planting trees and collecting garbage to protests and inspections.

World4U, 12A Chistoprudny Bulvar, room 621, 937-7027, M. Chistiye Prudy, , www.world4u.ru

Volontery.ru, 8-916-319-3519, ,www.volontery.ru

Red Cross, Moscow office, 143-6375, (916) 439-7999, , www.mosredcross.ru

Greenpeace, 6 Ul. Novaya Bashilovka, 626-5045, M. Dinamo, , www.greenpeace.org/russia/en/