Have you ever noticed the word “seRVice” contains the acronym (some even consider it a word) RV within it? Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe the majority of RVers like to serve the needs of others. Just look at the largest RV camping club in the world – The Good Sam Club which is named after the good Samaritan in the Bible who went out of his way to help a fellow traveler in need while others passed by ignoring the need. RVers like us are well suited to help others: We arrive to serve with our own housing, food and water requiring nothing of the host site. RVs can carry/tow needed materials
and supplies to a disaster site, serve as a soup kitchen or a command center in an emergency situation. RVers are typically independent, self-reliant types that are able to take care of themselves while solving other people’s problems.
Here are just a few examples on how to serve others with your RV:
– Travel to a devastated area and help with disaster relief
– Serve as the “chuck wagon” at a youth group campout
– Join the Habitat for Humanity RV Caravanner’s and help build a house for a less fortunate family
– Serve as a soup kitchen for the homeless or hungry first responders in the field such as search and rescue volunteers
– Volunteer to help build a church with Builders for Christ
– Get trained as an emergency responder for an organized group such as the American Red Cross or Search and Rescue
– Volunteer to be a counselor at a summer camp for special needs kids. Many of these camps offer RV spaces and they love volunteers that supply their own housing.
– Help preserve / discover historic sites on our national lands by volunteering for a Passport in Time project. Many times a campsite will be provided for the volunteers.
The good deeds of those who serve are also recognized by the federal government who allows you to deduct certain costs associated with your volunteer travels.
Here's what the IRS will allow volunteers at nonprofits and other qualifying entities to deduct from their taxable income:
Car and transportation expenses. Volunteers can deduct car and transportation expenses incurred to get back and forth from home to your office, or to meetings or other sites (such as a special event, or to deliver food to a homebound AIDS patient).
Volunteers who drive can choose between deducting actual gas and oil used or take a mileage deduction at the rate of 14 cents per mile. Given the cost of fueling a RV, most volunteers are better off keeping track of actual driving expenses. Volunteers can also add in parking fees and tolls. However, volunteers cannot claim general vehicle repair and maintenance expenses, depreciation, registration fees, or the costs of tires or insurance.
Those volunteers taking public transportation can deduct subway, bus or taxi fare.
Travel expenses. The volunteer can deduct travel expenses, such as airfare and other transportation, accommodations and meals, when performing services away from home. This might include trips to attend a convention or board meeting, taking underprivileged kids on a camping trip or monitoring environmental destruction. However, there are important limitations: The volunteer cannot gain significant personal pleasure, recreation or vacation from the travel. And the volunteer must really be working -- tagging along on an outing while performing nominal duties or even no duties for significant parts of the trip, won't cut it.
Have your RV standing by, ready to go in the next time of need or plan your next RV trip around helping others and help yourself at the same time. SeRVing as a volunteer is a rewarding experience in more ways than one!