No-commitment volunteering?
November 4, 2005 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Community service: I have an assignment for school to do 3 hours of volunteer work. Anywhere I can find wants a longer commitment than that, and unfortunately, 3 hours is the most free time I can spare this semester. I've checked Volunteermatch. Any ideas? (I'm in Chapel Hill, NC, and don't drive; I have few real skills).
posted by Jeanne to Grab Bag (21 answers total)
Have you tried Network for Good? They have a feature where you input your zipcode and the site will return listings within a certain distance from where you live. I also have a project to do that requires volunteer hours. If I were you I would scan for single-day events like fundraisers.

Of course, since it's only three hours, I'd recommend heading over to your local library and asking if they need any help. I'm sure they could find something for you to do that would keep you busy for three hours.
posted by kosher_jenny at 5:58 PM on November 4, 2005

Tsk. I meant to say: I also have a project that requires volunteer hours, and the site was a big help. Be prepared for a lot of dead ends, but just keep at and I'm sure you'll find something.
posted by kosher_jenny at 5:59 PM on November 4, 2005

Local food banks often have food storting days that basically only require that one morning or afternoon of commitment.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:09 PM on November 4, 2005

Check with your local Special Olympics to see if there is any event happening near by that could work for you. Also, if you belong to a church or such, see if you can do any work around that site and count that as community service. What about picking up trash on your school's campus for 3 hours?
posted by onhazier at 6:11 PM on November 4, 2005

Check quickly (i.e. tonight or tomorrow) to see if your local Planned Parenthood affiliate is hosting phone banks for the California special election. It's unlikely that far away, but it's possible; the odious prop 73 over here has mobilized Planned Parenthood nationally. A phone bank is easy, fun, and 4 hours long.
posted by Pacrand at 6:14 PM on November 4, 2005

Habitat for Humanity usually hosts house building on Saturdays, though it usually requires more than three hours for a given day. Food banks are always looking for help to dish out food, especially on friday/saturday mornings. Places like Salvation Army can also always use a helping hand.
posted by jmd82 at 6:35 PM on November 4, 2005

Offer to spend time visiting or conducting activities in a nursing home/retirement home for an afternoon. Folks there tend to be bored and can use some company/amusement.

You could also offer help to an older person in your neighborhood with household tasks or offer to spend time with someone's kids to allow him/her to take a break and hav e some time to him/herself. Parenting can be exhausting, and some families don't have enough extra cash to be able to hire babysitters very often.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:39 PM on November 4, 2005

I second doing a food event, especially those that go around giving food to the elderly who cannot get to the grocery stores themselves (the name escapes it). It was a really fun experience, and lasted around 2 or 3 hours one Saturday morning (though you're always welcomed to stay longer and actually do the delivery, which is around an extra 2 or 3 hours itself).
posted by itchie at 7:51 PM on November 4, 2005

When I was in Chapel Hill, I did some volunteering in the elementary schools. I had a weekly commitment in the classroom, but maybe you could work at a fun fair or the snack bar at a football game or something.

Also where I live now there is a kitchen that makes and delivers food, and you can bake whenever you want and drop it off at the kitchen, instead of volunteering in the kitchen for which they want a 2-hour-a-week commitment. Maybe there is something similar.
posted by Airhen at 8:27 PM on November 4, 2005

Around the holidays, tons of theatre and cultural organizations host charity benefits -- maybe sign up to usher, staff the ticket booth, or hang posters? A single benefit show might last about 3-4 hours.
posted by mochapickle at 9:45 PM on November 4, 2005

Just do something in your neighborhood (charity starts at home); mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow, paint a porch or fence, drive someone to a doctor's appt., clean up trash, the list is endless.
posted by LadyBonita at 9:48 PM on November 4, 2005

itchie: meals on wheels?
posted by artifarce at 11:11 PM on November 4, 2005

Jeanne said:

3 hours is the most free time I can spare this semester.

Jeanne has posted no links 68 comments to MetaFilter
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It seems like you maybe find plenty of time to be on MEFI! I'm sure you can find much more than 3 hours unless you are homebound for health or medical reasons? If that is the case maybe the administration can give you a waiver of some sort. Can't you get by doing something for less than 3 hours at a time? Like helping cheer up the old folks at a nearby nursing home once a week for 1/2 hour at a time? I can't imagine they would ever say no.
posted by JJ86 at 12:48 AM on November 5, 2005

I thought likewise. For school I had to do 20 hours, which in the big scheme of things is a pittance! Just give up a Saturday and go to a nursing home and chat with the elderly, help them with their crosswords et al. I met a nice lady who I talked to for about two hours, it's really not as horrible you might think!
posted by PuGZ at 2:56 AM on November 5, 2005

JJ86 - You have a point, but you're not comparing apples to apples. I've posted a lot on MeFi, but it's at random, odd times, like right now (6:07 am on a Saturday). There's a good chance that this will be my only MeFi time this weekend, since my schedule's so packed. But I'll have posted six or seven comments in this time. I'm not the OP, but I wouldn't be able to volunteer anywhere from 5 to 7 on a Saturday morning, and this is my only uncommitted time this weekend.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:07 AM on November 5, 2005

But, yeah. Jeanne can probably find more than 3 hours.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:08 AM on November 5, 2005

I don't really see why I should have to justify my time spent on Mefi, but most of those comments weren't even posted this semester. I am at school from 9:00 to 6:00 every weekday because of a really schedule this semester. So that pretty much only leaves the weekends (since the public transportation is nonexistent weekday nights). Most organizations need an ongoing commitment, and I just can't make one, not when I'm moving in 6 months, not when volunteer training and coordination takes long enough that I wouldn't even be able to get three hours in before the end of the semester. Yeah, I can find more than three hours...but on such a sporadic basis that it's practically useless.
posted by Jeanne at 6:25 AM on November 5, 2005

Try the Red Cross - they often need people to answer phones, and if you only go in for 3 hours, you only go in for 3 hours. They have enough volunteers where you won't need to feel guilty about it. Or check the local event calendars for any community/arts/nonprofit organization's upcoming event: wine tasting, auction, ball, whatever - they can pretty much always use a volunteer or two that evening and the commitment is generally about 3 hours long. If there's nothing coming up, try the museums and theatres and etc., anyway, tell them what you have to offer and see what they say.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:58 AM on November 5, 2005

Would organizing a community volunteer event get you the credit you need? That way you could set something up, for, say, a Saturday morning neighborhood clean-up, or food drive, or some other activity that doesn't require a lot of advance training.

Have you talked to your classmates to find out what they are doing? There might be others in the same situation, and if you grouped together you might come up with something really neat.
posted by ambrosia at 9:13 AM on November 5, 2005

It should be possible to find 3 hours of volunteer work. Look for big events: fairs, festivals, conferences. They will often need a lot of people for tasks that don't take more than 3 hours, or for which they'd gladly accept an extra helping hand, even for only a few hours. For example: making gift bags for attendees the night before is a task with a deadline that usually lots of people do. (And it's at night, which would fit your schedule) I've organized things like this and we always took on last minute volunteers. We loved them!
Look for upcoming events and contact the organisation.
posted by easternblot at 10:21 AM on November 5, 2005

Your local pet shelter would love to have you for more than three hours but they'll be happy to have what time you can give.
posted by deborah at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2005

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