Where can we volunteer for Valentine's Day in SF?
February 2, 2013 12:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a one-off volunteering opportunity in San Francisco on V-Day evening. Why is this so hard to find? Do they just think no one will want to volunteer that night?

I've checked all the places I can think of -- Bay Area charity event calendars, OneBrick, VolunteerMatch, various charities and parks. The only thing I've turned up is some charity indie film festival, and a Parks Conservancy opportunity from 1-4 pm, but that would require taking off work. I checked Project Open Hand, but they require a 6 month commitment.

Are there any other soup kitchens, community gardens, shelters or any other type of nonprofit in the city that anyone knows of, that would be open to a couple volunteering that night (say, past 5pm) without a huge amount of training or additional commitment?

I was thinking it would be a fun thing to do together for Valentine's, and better than dinner, while helping some good cause. Wasn't expecting it to be quite so difficult to find anything. Should we volunteer another time and just resign ourselves to just seeing a movie or something that evening?
posted by iadacanavon to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you searching for advertised opportunities for that specific date? You might have better luck looking for general volunteer positions like you describe (shelters, soup kitchens, op shops...) and asking the staff if they could use four untrained hands on the 14th. Since it's not as popular a date as, say, Christmas, I doubt they'll be specifically advertising positions on Valentines Day.
posted by third word on a random page at 1:13 AM on February 2, 2013

While it sounds like a lovely way for you and your SO to spend the evening, based on past experience I expect that the folks running soup kitchens, shelters, and similar organizations are pre-occupied with keeping the organization up and running during the scheduled hours, i.e., staffed with trained volunteers that they can count on.

Most probably aren't set up to accommodate folks who have a one-time-only opportunity to donate a few hours.
posted by she's not there at 1:50 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Third word, thanks. I'll try reaching out to some charities directly.

Also, I should mention I've done various long-term volunteering and short-term (as well as been employed at nonprofits), and I know it can be more trouble than it's worth at times to have drop-ins... but I also know that sometimes you're just happy to have an extra person/set of hands and it's not hard to get into the swing of things. So I'm still hoping we can connect with someone or a group who needs us that night.

If anyone else can think of anything specifically, please do post here. Thanks!
posted by iadacanavon at 2:20 AM on February 2, 2013

The soup kitchen I volunteer at requires all volunteers to take a food handling & guest relations training course (which they hold once a month) before working there. And, too, they now discourage one-time-only volunteering by individuals (pre-scheduled groups can still be accepted): sure, lots of those people honestly want to help, but there are others who are in it for the photo op --- think of that campaign photo of Paul Ryan and his wife a couple months ago.
posted by easily confused at 2:46 AM on February 2, 2013

The SF Food Bank (sffoodbank.org) takes drop in volunteers.
posted by amaire at 3:58 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Looking at the calendar for Hands On Bay Area (a volunteer matching organization), it does appear that their partner agencies are taking the night off. But that could be a great resource for future spontaneous, drop-in volunteer activities. (I serve on the board of the Hands On affiliate where I live and highly recommend it for anyone looking for flexible volunteerism.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:53 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ended up doing the SF Food Bank. What a great suggestion. We had a wonderful time and felt so good to help out. Thanks again!
posted by iadacanavon at 2:47 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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