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COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Click here for related information.

Volunteer Center Staff is on temporary furlough with no access to email or voicemail due to Columbia Association's closure. 

Looking for Ways to Serve?

BEFORE beginning any service project:

  1. Identify a need.

  2. Identify recipients or an organization that could benefit from your project.

  3. If collecting or making items for donation, confirm that the donations will be accepted and distributed or used by the organization and/or its clients.  Check our Guide to Giving for donation needs of some local non-profits.

  4. Confirm a day/time and contact person to safely drop off your donation(s). Understand that some donations may need to be held on to until pandemic conditions improve for drop-off. 

  5. Ask yourself, does this follow the guidance of local authorities to protect me, my family and our community?


Ideas for ways to serve:

The following activities would be welcomed by our partner organizations and could provide a fun activity throughout the year to benefit:

Mature Adults

  • Visit a “Grand-friend” through a window. 
  • Record seasonal favorites (Carols, Irish ballads, Americana) using your cell phone or a voice recorder for the staff to play for residents.
  • Make a pen-pal.  Tell someone something interesting in a letter or write a story, mail it with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Then have them tell you something interesting about them or add to the story. Keep it going!
  • Create and mail greeting cards. Be creative. 
  • Donate board games and packs of cards. 
  • Read aloud your favorite books or articles via the phone, social media - create an online book club.

Children & Youth Education

  • Collect your family’s gently used textbooks and workbooks to share with local students.
  • Say NO to Bullying - collect positive stories and make a book.
  • Shine a light - create vision boards for at-risk youth.
  • Birthday boxes (Food Bank) – decorate a box and include birthday treats (cake mix, frosting, party treats, decorated but unnamed birthday card).
  • Using arts and crafts available on-hand – decorate a box and fill with any of the following (yarn and felt squares, large buttons and beads, crayons, washable markers, watercolors, colored pencils and markers, construction paper, Play-Doh and Play-Doh cutters). Maybe make and include a hand puppet! Be creative.
  • Interview an older adult and create a newspaper article.
  • Call a grandparent or neighbor, with permission, and read them your favorite story.
  • Create a sidewalk art show.

Family Services

  • Host a donation drive with your family at home collecting (coloring books and crayons, “Dr. Seuss Month”, stuffed animals).
  • Make birthday boxes for kids (with cake mix, frosting, candles and other party stuff).
  • Plant a community garden and donate the harvest to a local shelter.
  • Oops! boxes (Head Start - 3-5 year olds) - decorate a box and fill it with an emergency change of clothes  (underwear, socks, shorts, pants, shirts. All need to be new.
  • Host a cereal or diaper drive. Create & distribute flyers one day; collect several days later; then deliver to a Food Bank

Civic & Community

  • Visit MDUnites or your local government’s website for your state’s greatest needs. 


  • Share your pet’s supplies to make goodie bags / pet adoption bags for animals in shelters.
  • Decorate online Pet Emergency Cards – deliver to shelters for inclusion in adoption bags.
  • Ask a local animal shelter about their successful adoption stories and make your holiday cards showcasing the adoption to encourage people to adopt, not buy.
  • Have a birthday coming up?  Skip presents and ask for online donations for shelter animals instead.
  • Make dog toys for a shelter (many online ideas – ie paracord braided chew toys).
  • Make “Adopt me!” Bandanas/ decoupage dog tags for dogs awaiting adoption.


  • Take a trash bag with you when you go outdoors for some fresh air to pick up trash around your neighborhood.  
  • Seed gardens - make and plant native seed bombs to brighten surroundings close to home.
  • Make and plant homemade strips of seeds that grow into bee friendly flower gardens.

Immigrant & Refugee

  • Work with your family and friends (virtually) to make a “New Resident” guide to your town that includes your favorite parks, a map of the neighborhood, and fun things to do.
  • Make English language flashcards.


  • Commit to a week without oil/ gas and donate the savings to Fuel Fund of Maryland.
  • Commit with family and friends to a sponsored no-heat day (dress up warm, eat chili and donate the proceeds to Fuel Fund of Maryland).
  • Create blankets or sew labels for the blankets, to be donated to hospitalized or traumatized children in the area (Project Linus).
  • It’s Fashion Week! Host a fashion show with your family and collect business clothing and accessories (Success in Style).
  • Gift card give back - collect your family’s unwanted gift cards (Grassroots Crisis Intervention).
  • Collect coupons for the military. Search online for organizations that will accept them.

Additional Ideas can be found at:


Identifying an organization to serve:

  1. Review Guide to Giving listings.

  2. Find an organization with a similar opportunity currently posted - Click Find an Opportunity link above. Use the additional filters on the left of the search results. Select an issue area under “What would you like to do?”, or a population or age group under “Who would you like to serve?”.

  3. Find a partner organization to reach out to - View our Partner Organizations (under Find Opportunities link above), click the impact area heading to sort the listing by impact area. Scroll through the listings to find those partner organizations with your desired impact area. Click on the organization name to see their mission statement, website and list of posted opportunities (if any).  



Volunteer Center

6310 Hillside Ct.
Columbia, MD 21046