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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:

  • Identify a need
  • Identify an organization that helps to meet that need or serves the population AND
  • Confirm that your time, talents and donations will be accepted by the organization
  • Learn about being a Volunteer Leader at one of our free Volunteer Leader trainings held several times a year. Click here for more information.

Points of Light Project Ideas

AFTER your service project, you can self-report your service. Registered volunteers will find information under the My Account link (must be logged in).


Ideas for ways to serve:

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


  • Visit a “Grand-friend”. Play card games, do crafts together, build a real connection.

  • Make a “book” with a youngster using technology to preserve their stories & photos.

  • Sing/play/read seasonal favorites (Carols, Irish ballads, Americana) for young people.

  • Hold a concert at a school or group home.

  • Saturday Night Fever! - host a dance class at a local school or group home.

  • Find a pen-pal in a local school. Start a story, mail it, have them add to it and write back.

  • Send postcards to a child in group homes whenever you travel somewhere fun!

  • Collect and donate board games and packs of cards then host an event playing games


Children & Youth Education

  • Organize a drive for gently used textbooks and workbooks.

  • Say NO to Bullying - collect positive stories and make a book to distribute to kids.

  • Shine a light - create a vision board with an at-risk youth.

  • Birthday boxes (Food Bank) – decorate a box and include birthday treats (cake mix, frosting, party treats, decorated but unnamed birthday card).

  • Art supply boxes (Head Start) – 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!


Family Services

  • Have an old-fashioned puzzle party - drag out those puzzles and play with preschool kids.

  • Host specific drives (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) - decorate a box and fill it with an emergency change of clothes  (underwear, socks, shorts, pants, shirts. All need to be new, to fit 3-5 year olds).


Civic & Community

  • Do a physical challenge – ie be sponsored for a number of sessions of Boot Camp.

  • Group/ individual sponsored challenge to do a number of activities in each of the Columbia Association gyms (for example use 10 pieces of equipment in each one).

  • Participate in a group run for sponsorship.

  • Host a mini - Olympics for friends with the entry price to be sports themed equipment.

  • Host a dance marathon.

  • Get going with Breakfast! – host a cereal drive for the local food bank.



  • Volunteer with friends at a local animal shelter (check first- some have age restrictions).

  • Make goodie bags / pet adoption bags for animals in shelters.

  • Decorate online Pet emergency cards – deliver to shelters for inclusion in adoption bags.

  • Sponsor a dog wash for neighborhood dogs, with animal shelter supplies in payment.

  • 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.

  • Skip presents and  ask for donations for shelter animals for your birthday.

  • 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.



  • Trash Troll - sponsor your group to carry around all the trash they create in a day.

  • Make a list of likely trash and send your group off on a scavenger hunt.

  • Seed gardens - make and plant native seed bombs to brighten surroundings.

  • Make and plant homemade strips of seeds that grow into bee friendly flower gardens.


Immigrant & Refugee

  • Work with your friends 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.


General Cause Support

  • Hold a lemonade stand or bake sale and donate the profits to a local organization.

  • Host an Auction of services for the neighborhood.

  • Organize a neighborhood yard sale.



  • Commit to a week without oil/ gas and donate the savings to Fuel Fund of Maryland.

  • Commit with 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 for your neighbors and collect business clothing and accessories (Success in Style).

  • Gift card give back - collect unwanted gift cards (Grassroots Crisis Intervention).

  • Collect coupons for the military.


Ways to identify an organization to serve:

  1. Review Guide to Giving listings.

  2. Find an organziation with a similar opportunity currently posted - Click Find an Opportunity link above. Use the additional filters on the left to filter 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