Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s historic union was called “the people’s wedding” for good reason. Not only did the down-to-earth couple invite hundreds of British schoolchildren to be guests on their big day, but they also asked for charity donations in lieu of gifts. Separately, both the prince and the soon-to-be duchess have a long history of altruism—he has founded a number of charities, while her commitment to activism started in childhood. Feeling inspired by the royal couple to make the world a better place? We have some brilliant ways to spread the love while visiting California.
1. Protect our waves and wildlife
Ocean conservation is one of the causes the couple chose to add to their wedding “registry” via the U.K.-based Surfers Against Sewage. One visit to California’s stunning coastline will inspire you to ensure that the Pacific stays pristine for generations to come. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to get involved: Test water quality, search for stranded marine wildlife, or dive in to participate in June’s Great Annual Fish Count.
2. Support those who served
Prince Harry deployed twice to Afghanistan with the British Armed Forces so it’s no surprise that veterans remain close to his heart. For 30 years, the Veterans Village of San Diego has organized an annual Stand Down event during the summer for struggling former service members. Homeless veterans who attend the fair are provided with clothing, haircuts, medical services, legal assistance, job counseling, and more. The event is powered by volunteer support—sign up in advance or simply show up near the southern edge of Balboa Park.
3. Run to raise funds
As Patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust, Prince Harry has motivated thousands of runners to give back through racing. Follow in his royal footsteps at the California International Marathon, held the first Sunday in December in Sacramento. The marathon, which also includes a relay option, allows the Sacramento Running Association to raise more than $1 million annually for charity. Beneficiaries include the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, American River Parkway Foundation, and United States Association of Blind Athletes.
4. Shuttle food to shelters
Los Angeles–based Thrive Market was founded with the mission to make healthy food more accessible to families of all income levels. The e-commerce retailer is leading a drive to accept food stamps for its purchases online, and they also donate their surplus food each day. All you need is a car and a few hours to be a part of the solution. Volunteers take food from the warehouse in Marina del Rey to local shelters from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. After your shift wraps, go for a sunset cleanup at Mother’s Beach and earn extra good karma.
5. Eat, drink, and provide sanctuary
Celebrate good work at the annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival, held each June in Camarillo. The best vintners, brewers, and chefs from Ventura County offer unlimited pairings for the price of admission. Special events include culinary competitions with celebrity judges and a seven-course dinner from the festival’s top chefs. Proceeds go to Casa Pacifica, a 24-acre campus where abused and neglected youth can find shelter, support, education, and care.
6. Get glam for a good cause
For their first post-engagement public outing, Meghan and her prince chose a World AIDS Day event. You can contribute to this critical cause alongside the Hollywood elite at the annual amfAR Gala Los Angeles in October. Tickets to the star-laden event (think Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Goldie Hawn) start at $3,000. To date, the gala has raised more than $13 million for the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS as well as for education around related issues.
7. Ride for a reason
Marry your desire to give back with your love of fresh air and fine wine at the Cycle for Sight in Napa Valley. Choose your distance (15-, 25-, and 50-mile rides are available), then explore the valley on two wheels while raising money for a few great causes. The event benefits the Pathway Home, which helps veterans transition to civilian life; Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind; and V Foundation, which is focused on finding cancer cures. All cyclists can toast hard work and great causes with a food, music, and wine festival at the ride’s end.
8. Lend a hand on horseback
Equine-assisted therapy has been used for centuries to encourage physical and mental health. At the beautiful Halleck Creek Ranch, visitors can help improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities. Volunteer as a one-time experience or make a longer commitment to guide riders along serene trails in Marin County’s Nicasio Valley.
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