Volunteering not as hard as it seems

Sunday, September 14, 2008 | 8:30 p.m. CDT; updated 9:27 p.m. CST, Monday, February 9, 2009

COLUMBIA — As energy prices rise, it seems that everyone is feeling the strain. More money is coming out of pocket for necessities such as groceries and energy costs, and there isn't much left to give to those in need. Although monetary giving is helpful to and needed by a variety of organizations, giving time is just as crucial. The Missourian looked for some no-cost or low-cost ways that can help the community without hurting the wallet, and there's a time frame to fit into almost any schedule. You can volunteer as many or few hours a week as you like, but keep in mind that some organizations require at least four hours of your time each month, and there could be training required beforehand. Check with the organization for details.

Some places you can volunteer:

Central Missouri Humane Society
Need: Community outreach, pet visitation, dog walking, grooming, bathing, kennel care, etc.
Time frame: 1 to 2 hours
Who: Anyone, adults or youth
Cost: None
Contact: Volunteer Coordinator at 443-3893 or
Web site:
   Pets are in need, too. Unfortunately, many pet owners have had to give away their pets because of economic woes. Most often, those pets end up at the Humane Society.  
   Volunteers are needed for a variety of positions such as community outreach, shelter-based programs, kennel care or dog and cat socialization.

Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Need: Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Time frame: Six months
Who: Anyone
Cost: Time and energy spent in training for a marathon, triathlon, bike ride or hike
Contact: Director Kobi Gillespie at or 800-264-CURE
Web site:
Participants train for five or six months to run or walk half-marathons, marathons, triathlons, hikes and century (100-mile) bike rides, while raising money toward cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. All participants are provided training and support through a personal coach, teammates and a diet and exercise regimen. Many participants run in honor of someone who is fighting or has lost the fight with cancer. Sports programs go on all year and are located across the U.S. and abroad. Participants can pick a sports program to join or a particular destination where they would like to compete. Some locations include San Antonio or Dublin, Ireland.

Ronald McDonald House
Need: Family meal providers
Time frame: An evening
Who: Group or individual
Cost: A full meal (or less with more individuals)
Contact: Jennifer Miller at 443-7666 or
Web site:
Families staying at the Ronald McDonald House enjoy home-cooked meals through the Family Meal Program.
Meals are provided for 15 people each night of the week. Anybody can help, but volunteering as a group can keep costs low, as the main dish, side items, drinks and a dessert can add up.
   For available dates, check the calendar on the Web site and then call Jennifer Miller to schedule. Cooking a meal isn’t necessary.

City of Columbia
Need: Volunteers for a variety of needs within the city
Time Frame: As many or as few hours as you like
Who: Anyone
Cost: None
Contact: Volunteer Services at 874-7499 or
Web site:
The city of Columbia has several areas in need of volunteers.
   The city offers something for every interest, such as programs working within city government, community safety, disaster relief or environmental programs working with the parks, trails, or cleanups and awareness.
   There also are programs for youth involvement.

Light the Night
Contact: or special events department at 800-264-CURE.
When: Varies
Duties: Walk an evening to either raise money or in memory of those touched by cancer.

The Wardrobe
Contact: Carol Smith at 442-326 or
When: 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays; 9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays
Duties: Volunteers help sort and stock donated items.

Central Missouri Food Bank
Contact: John Wampler at 474-1020 or
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday
Duties: Sort and repackage bulk food items.

Caring for Columbia
When: April
Duties: Students at MU, Stephens and Columbia College volunteer to help a variety of organizations in Columbia.

Crop Walk
Contact: 888-CWS-CROP or visit
When: Oct. 5, 3 to 4 hours
Duties: Raise money for those in hunger and poverty around the world through walking.

Sustainable Farms & Communities
Contact: Victoria Day at 819-1325 or
When: Saturday mornings, late March through late November; 7:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Duties: Working special events.

The Peace Nook, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks
Contact: 875-0539 or
When: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Duties: A nonprofit retail store that needs volunteers to assist customers, aid staff with inventory, check in orders and clean.

Columbia Garden Coalition
Contact: Lea Langdon at 573-875-5995 or
When: Morning or evening any day
Duties: Help others start new community gardens and maintain existing gardens; harvest vegetables for donation to the Central Missouri Food Bank and food pantries; and build raised beds, wheelchair-accessible beds and compost bins.

Columbia Housing Authority
Contact: Ron Schmidt at 573-443-2556, ext. 1112 or
When: Weekdays, 4 to 8 p.m.
Duties: Work one-on-one or with small groups assisting children and youth (kindergarten to seventh grade) with homework and reading.

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Contact: Ellen Greer at 874-3677, ext. 203 or
When: Varies, 2 to 3 hours per week
Duties: Individual or group mentoring of children ages 6 to 14 years, or academic assistance.

Mid-Mo Rideshare Program
Need: Cutting down on emissions, pollution
Who: Any driver
Cost: Limited since you can gain back half to three-fourths of your current energy expenses
Contact: Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Energy Center’s Rideshare office at 573-522-RIDE
Web site:
What better way to cut energy expenses than this — ride to work with friends or co-workers. It might not seem like ordinary philanthropy, but ride-sharing helps save the environment by reducing emissions, and it possibly helps a neighbor lower commute stress and auto expenses, including reduced gas, maintenance, insurance costs and fees for parking. In this program, commuters are matched with carpools of those who work in Jefferson City and Columbia.
The program serves Missouri communities such as Boonville, California, Freeburg, Fulton, Lake of the Ozarks and Linn. Sign up at the Web site or call the Energy Center’s Rideshare office.

University Hospital
Contact: Kay Steward at 573-882-4714 or
Who: Youth 14 to 18
Duties: Assist staff with all types of patient services. Call for details.

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