Volunteer and Community Service Opportunities in the Triangle

Find a volunteer opportunity that fits your interests and availability
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Looking for a way to give back to the community and help others? We've compiled a list of volunteer and community service opportunities for Triangle families, teens and older youth. Some are have opportunities specifically tied to a particular holiday (i.e., Thanksgiving or Christmas) while others are year-round operations. For those with young children, volunteering as a family is a fun and easy way to start. Older children can often volunteer on their own. Find one that fits your interests and availability!

Veterans Day/Military Support

A Million Thanks
PO Box 17853, Santiago Blvd. #107-355, Villa Park, CA 92861
-Send a letter to a deployed soldier, sending them good wishes and thanks.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Mail letters to address listed above.

Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road, Encino, CA 91436
-Write letters to the troops or ship wish list donations to the Holiday Drive.
-For all ages.
-Donated items accepted only from Sept. 15-Dec. 5. Letters accepted year-round.
-Ship all wish list items to address listed above, with a donation form that is available online.

Operation Gratitude Recycling Program
16444 Refugio Road, Encino, CA 91436
www.grcrecycling.com or www.operationgratitude.com
-Collect cell phones, ship them for free to GRC Recycling, and receive one hour of community service for every five phones collected.
-For students of all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Students can enroll at www.grcrecycling.com/earnhours or email info@grcrecycling.com with any questions.

United States Veterans Corps
104 Woodwinds Industrial Ct., Cary, NC 27511
-Past projects have included hurricane clean up, Toys for Lil Troops toy drive and care package drives.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Sign up online for upcoming volunteer opportunities.


International Festival of Raleigh
North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh
The International Festival of Raleigh is looking for engaged, creative volunteers to help design a great kids’ experience for the upcoming festival, March 6-8, 2020. The Sophia’s Corner Committee imagines, plans and coordinates fun, educational games, activities and performances to help young festival attendees discover different cultures and “travel the world." For more information, contact Clodagh Bastian at cbastian@internationalfocusnc.org.


Annual Chatham Hunger Walk
Chatham OutReach Alliance, Inc. (CORA)
PO Box 1326, Pittsboro, NC 27312
919-542-5020 or 919-545-3030
-Early November
-The Hunger Walk raises money for CORA's mission to provide emergency food assistance in Chatham County.
-For all ages.
-For information on how to put together a team, email hungerwalk@corafoodpantry.org.

Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner
Durham Rescue Mission, Men's Division
1201 E. Main St., Durham, NC
-Thanksgiving Day.
-Help set up the event, cook and serve meals, run the game booths and more.
-For all ages.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Gobbles to Go Delivery
Raleigh Rescue Mission
314 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, NC 27601
-Thanksgiving Day.
-Spend time on Thanksgiving delivering meals and briefly visiting with recipients.
-For all ages.
-Contact Holly Cook at hollyc@raleighrescue.org or the main office number.

Helping Hand Mission
623 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh, NC 27610
-Register to donate a basket, volunteer with basket distribution or help at holiday dinners.
-For all ages.
-Call 919-829-8048 the first week in November to get involved.

Thanksgiving Dinners Program
Durham Social Services, 700 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27702
-Get matched with a family in need to provide them with a meal for Thanksgiving.
-For all ages.
-Sign up mid-October to mid-November.
-Call 919-613-5101 to sponsor a family.


Christmas Toy Give-A-Way
Durham Rescue Mission, Men's Division
1201 E. Main St., Durham, NC
-Help serve a traditional Christmas meal, give away toys and groceries, or help with games and activities.
-For all ages.
-Email volunteer@DurhamRescueMission.com to get involved.

Genesis Home Gift Wrapping
300 N. Queen St., PO Box 25426, Durham, NC 27702
-Usually early December.
-Help wrap gifts to raise awareness and support for Genesis Home, a non-profit dedicated to helping families overcome homelessness.
-For all ages.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Helping Hand Mission
623 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh, NC 27610
-Donate a gift, help wrap gifts, or serve at the Christmas feast.
-For all ages.
-Call 919-829-8048 to get involved.

Holiday Groceries to Go
Raleigh Rescue Missions
314 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, NC 27601
-Provide families with groceries to share with their loved ones over the holiday weekend.
-Deliver filled grocery bags.
-For all ages.
-Contact Holly Cook at hollyc@raleighrescue.org or call the main phone number to get involved.

The Wishing Tree
Ronald McDonald House-Durham
506 Alexander Ave., Durham, NC 27705
-Set up an angel tree and collect gifts for seriously ill children and their families.
-Great for groups and companies.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities are also available.
-Contact Traci Cortez at Traci@RMHDurhamWake.org for more info.

Light-A-Luminary Community Lighting
101 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
-Sat., Dec. 8, 2012.
-Get your neighborhood involved in lighting luminaries to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.
-For all ages.
-Contact Elizabeth Hullender at elizabeth.hullender@rmh-chapelhill.org to get involved.

Meals on Wheels Senior Santa Program
2522 Ross Road, Durham, NC 27703
919-667-9424; volunteer hotline 919-667-9426
-Donate items or help wrap gifts.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities are also available.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Raleigh Jingle Bell Run/Walk
Saint Mary's School, 900 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27603
– Dec. 1, 2012.
– Get in the holiday spirit and join thousands of runners and walkers to support the Arthritis Foundation.
– For all ages.
– Register online.

Salvation Army of Durham, Orange and Person Counties
810 N. Alston Ave., Durham NC 27702
​- We have 30-plus kettle locations throughout Durham, Orange, and Person counties each year.
– Kettle season is from early November to December 24, Monday-Saturday. 
– If a volunteer individual or group does not "adopt" a kettle to ring at, we must pay a seasonal worker to fill that spot. This means, the money that we raise from ringing bells must also go to paying those who ring for us. Money that would ideally go toward life-giving programs. 1 volunteer hour = $24.14. If a volunteer group of 5 is ringing kettles for 4 hours, that is $482.80 that we are already saving. The organization also needs volunteers who can help register families for Christmas registration Sept. 24-28. The volunteer sessions run from 8:30 a.m.-noon, and then 12:30-4:30 p.m. during that week. Volunteers also help parents select Christmas wishlists for their children.
Kettle Sign-Up Form
Sponsorship Info Form
Christmas Registration

Share Your Christmas
Durham Social Services, 700 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27702
-Sponsor a family or donate gifts to disadvantaged Durham residents.
-For all ages.
-Parents can call 919-613-5101 to find out more information on family involvement.

Animal Shelters and Zoo Programs

North Carolina Zoo
4401 Zoo Pkwy, Asheboro, NC 27205
Youth may volunteer independently at age 16 with parental consent and at age 12 with a parent or legal guardian. Volunteers are asked to commit a minimum of 90 hours between April and October although some positions are year round. One-day service projects also are available for groups that are looking for episodic opportunities. Email Volunteer Coordinator Toy Lambeth at Toy.Lambeth@NCZoo.org for more information.

Orange County Animal Services
1601 Eubanks Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
-Volunteer positions include kennel assistants, dog walkers, cat socializers and more.
-Ages 13+ (13-15 with adult supervision).
-Year-round opportunities.
-Print volunteer applications online or contact Sarah Fallin at 919-942-7387.

Paw Prints Animal Rescue
PO Box 1472, Garner, NC 27529
-Assist with animal care in foster homes or in adoptions of animals at local retail stores operated by PetSmart, Inc.
-Ages 14+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Find a volunteer release form online.

SAFE Haven for Cats (SHFC)
8471-101 Garvey Dr., Raleigh, NC 27616
-Offer tender, loving care at this no-kill shelter for cats.
-Ages 16+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can fill out a volunteer application online.

Second Chance Pet Adoptions
6003 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 133, Raleigh, NC 27607
-All types of volunteer positions available for animal lovers.
-Ages 16+; 12- to 15-year-olds permitted if accompanied by a parent or guardian.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Wake County
200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh, NC 27603
-Kids can volunteer with the adult/youth teams (ages 7-17) or by creating their own community service project to support SPCA of Wake County.
-Ages 7+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Sign up for a New Volunteer Orientation online.

Wake County Animal Center
820 Beacon Lake Dr., Raleigh, NC 27610
-Volunteers must commit to a minimum of six hours per month, for a minimum of six months.
-Ages 16+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Complete a volunteer application online.


Durham Regional Hospital
3643 N. Roxboro Road, Durham, NC 27704
-Opportunities for students to interact with health care professionals and learn in a medical environment.
-Ages 14-18.
-Summer programs only.
-Junior volunteer applications for the summer can be found online and are accepted beginning April 1 each year and due in early May.

Rex Healthcare
4420 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh, NC 27607
-The VolunTEEN program gives teens the opportunity to work in many positions that contribute to the care of patients and guests
-Ages 14+
-After-school and summer programs available (no longer accepting applications for 2011-2012 school year).
-Contact a volunteer coordinator at volunteer.services@rexhealth.com. Deadline to apply to the 2012 Summer Program is Feb. 27, 2012.

UNC Healthcare
101 Manning Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
-Volunteer opportunities available at the gift shop, information desk, or with flower and mail delivery.
-Ages 14+
-After-school and summer programs available (no longer accepting applications for 2011-2012 school year).
-Find the application process online or contact Jodie Skoff at 919-966-4793. Summer 2012 applicants can apply starting in January 2012.

3000 New Bern Ave., Raleigh, NC 27610; 919-350-8293 (Raleigh Campus)
1900 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27518; 919-350-2363 (Cary Hospital)
-Junior Volunteer Programs available at the Raleigh Campus or Cary Hospital.
-Ages 14-18.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Find an application form online; students can apply anytime during the year.

Blood Drives in the Triangle

Looking for a nearby blood drive? Here is a frequently updated list of blood drives in the Triangle area, created by The Blood Connection, a company that supports health care partners with adequate, safe, cost-effective blood supplies and services.

National Organizations with Local Opportunities

American Red Cross of Central North Carolina
4737 University Dr., Durham NC 27707
-Blood donation
-Crisis assistance
-Office support

Wake County Extension Office, 512 Brick Haven Dr., Suite 220, Raleigh, NC 27695 (main office)
-Join the largest youth organization in the United States, by joining a group in your county. 4-H is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
-Ages 5-19.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Find local groups and enrollment forms online.

Girls on the Run of the Triangle
1415 W. Highway 54, Ste. 211, Durham, NC 27707
Facebook & Twitter: @gotrtriangle
Instagram: gotr_triangle
– Volunteer coaching opportunities, special events, including fall and spring 5K and general office volunteer work
– For all ages.
– Year-round opportunities.
– Contact Kathy Therber at kathy@gotrtriangle.org to get involved.

Habitat for Humanity – Chapel Hill
88 Vilcom Center Dr. #L110, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
-Help out at construction shifts on Fridays and Saturdays.
-Ages 16+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Habitat for Humanity – Durham
215 N. Church St., Durham, NC 27701
-Special off-site activities available for children younger than 14.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Contact Alice at ajacoby@durhamhabitat.org to find the best opportunities to volunteer with children.

Habitat for Humanity – Raleigh
2420 Raleigh Blvd., Raleigh, NC 27604
-Work on construction or deconstruction sites.
-Ages 16+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Raleigh Rescue Mission
314 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, NC 27601
-Get a group together to pack lunches-to-go or Sunday sack lunches.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online beginning in January for general volunteer opportunities. Click here to find out how.

Ronald McDonald House – Chapel Hill
101 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
-For students interested in earning service-learning hours.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Ronald McDonald House – Durham
506 Alexander Ave., Durham, NC 27705
-Group and Individual opportunities
-Year-round opportunities
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Small Hands Big Hearts United
– Age appropriate charitable activities referred to as "Compassion Missions" for children of all ages
– Involved in a wide range of charitable events including an ongoing Philippine Disaster fundraiser, quarterly food drives, Christmas caroling to local senior citizens, writing letters to children who are ill and to wounded soldiers and much more.

Special Olympics Project UNIFY
2200 Gateway Centre Blvd., Ste. 201, Morrisville, NC 27560
-A youth leadership program that get students involved in fostering respect for people with disabilities by using programs of Special Olympics.
-Middle and high school students.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Contact Keith Fishburne at 919-719-7622 ext. 102.

Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE), Inc.
Raleigh, NC
-Donate gently-used or new stuffed animals that will go directly to children in need. Animals must be from a smoke free home, between 6-18 inches, have no rips, tears or stains, and not be battery operated or holiday related.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Email Brandi Byers at brandi_byers@yahoo.com to schedule a drop off time and location.

YMCA of the Triangle
801 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27607
-Volunteer at one of the multiple Triangle YMCA locations in areas including aquatics, wellness, family programs and special events.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can find an application online.

Locally Founded Programs

Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute
Lincoln Center, 750 Merritt Mill Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
-Offers various services projects and information on school service clubs to teens.
-Directed to Chapel-Hill Carrboro city school high school students.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Contact Lorie Clark at yli@chccs.k12.nc.us.

Book Harvest
2501 University Dr., Durham, NC 27707
Book Harvests hosts twice-monthly open book sorts that are open to volunteers of all ages (youth volunteers under 16 must be accompanied by an adult) and are held on the second Saturday and fourth Tuesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Drop-ins are welcome — no need to register in advance. Volunteers can stay for as little or as much of the book sort as they would like, and there is no orientation or special knowledge required to participate.

Cary Teen Council
-Participating teens get involved in events that focus in community awareness, educational leadership, fundraising, and more.
-Applications are accepted in June of each year.
-Contact Cindi at cindi.king@townofcary.org for more information.

Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina
3808 Tarheel Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609
-Teens ages 12-17 can volunteer with a parent or guardian during normal volunteer hours; Tues-Sat., 9 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1-4 p.m., and Wed. 6-8 p.m..
-Kids 5-11 years of age can volunteer during Kids Day programs only; every 2nd and 4th Saturday from 2-4 p.m.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Email RalVolCoord@foodbankcenc.org to get involved.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle
1001 Blair Drive, PO Box 14638, Raleigh, NC 27620
-Assist at community gardens, teaching farms, and other programs.
-For all ages.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

Kramden Institute
4915 Prospectus Dr., Suite J, Durham, NC 27713
-Be a part of collecting and refurbishing computers to give to less-advantaged students.
-Ages 12+
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can sign up online.

North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
-Community service opportunities for high school students interested in horticulture and conservation.
-Ages 14-17.
-Year-round opportunities.
-Prospective volunteers can find an application online.

Student Action Board
Durham Social Services, 700 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27702
-Teens from the Triangle area who are dedicated to volunteer work.
-Ages 12-18.
-Applications are available in late summer and early fall.
-Call 919-684-9690 to find out more about the application process.

Western Wake Crisis Ministry

1600 Olive Chapel Rd., Ste. 408, Apex, NC 27502
(Office is located at the 540 Flex and Business Park)
-Food Pantry
-Food Drives
-Contact Beth Bordeaux for more information via email or phone at 919-362-0657.

Warmth for Wake
– Runs October-March
– Looking for volunteers and donations to help neighbors stay warm as the temperatures drop.
– Volunteers can help by delivering firewood to households for use in offsetting gas or electric heat consumption, and donating new or gently-used heaters to households lacking another heat source.
– Contact Denise Kissel at denise.kissel@wakegov.com or 919-212-7083.

Sign up as a volunteer on the following sites, and search for more opportunities!

Volunteer Center of Durham

Activate Good

The Volunteer Family

Volunteer Match

This article was originally published in Oct. 25, 2011 and is continuously updated.


Categories: Activities, Community, Fall, Get Involved, Giving Back, Lifestyle, Seasonal, SK Activities, Solutions, Thanksgiving, Things To Do