How skilled are you at letting go? It's a challenge for most of us in this day and age. We are, most of us, control freaks, and even if someone else holds the reins, we still want to know where we are going.

Throw all that control out the window and hop on board The Do Good Bus, a mystery mode of community volunteering in Los Angeles. A group of strangers (who will become co-workers and friends before day's end) boards a bus and heads to an unknown volunteer project where they will spend a day doing a community work project. The stealth and surprise elements add a new level of fun and camaraderie—we're all in this together.

Local non-profits in the neighborhoods visited set up the work day, and the bus unloads and teams get down to work. Sometimes it is a school bus, sometimes a city-type bus, sometimes a fancy charter--again, the variables are part of the fun. Projects have included assembling sports equipment for kids, painting community and school murals, community garden work, sorting and organizing donations, projects with homeless shelters, and projects with animals and rescues. Each trip is different and each location kept under wraps.

The bus tours have three main goals: Create awareness, create a community, and inspire us to keep on finding ways to be involved long after the bus trip has finished. Public community rides typically happen once a month, on a Saturday, and last for four-ish hours. You can purchase lunch through the program or bring your own. The day costs $35, and a portion of that fee goes to the non-profit you will be serving that day. Got a group? Book a specialized group trip on the Do Good Bus (AWESOME birthday party idea!)

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation ( and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project ( Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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