1. Volunteer at the hospital
U.Va. Health is one of Virginia’s top-ranked hospitals and provides multiple volunteer opportunities which include direct and indirect patient contact. U.Va. Health offers a variety of volunteer opportunities grouped by service location, including escorting, patient deliveries and even being a patient ambassador. Any student who wishes to volunteer can decide what hours work best for them and which service they can see themselves doing.
2. Madison House
Madison House is the independent volunteer center for students at the University. They do it all — coordinate volunteers, develop student leaders and even build community partnerships. With over 20 ongoing programs like recreational therapy, athletics and child care, volunteering at Madison House gives students the chance to do something fun and enjoyable while simultaneously helping out the Charlottesville community. Registration is available online with a University email.
3. Attend a Greek life philanthropy event
Supporting philanthropy events such as Zeta Tau Alpha’s annual 5k or the Alpha Delta Pi’s annual softball tournament serve as interesting fundraisers to raise money for a good cause, many of which are related to the Charlottesville area. Whether it's buying the t-shirts on the Corner or competing in a wing-eating contest, attending or participating in an event can be a socially engaging way to give back to the community.
4. Attend a Zoom Cycling Class
Okay, this might sound a little far-fetched. After all, how does riding a bike help out the community? But, hear me out. Zoom is an indoor cycling studio located in Charlottesville that regularly partners with charities and nonprofits for events and other initiatives. Zoom will often announce they are holding classes that partner with a certain charity and all the proceeds that it gets from the customers for that specific class will go towards the charity. If you’re a new customer to Zoom, simply sign up, and you will receive emails whenever there are upcoming cycling classes that are partnered with a good cause.
5. Join Cavaliers Care
The Cavaliers Care is an international volunteer initiative that brings alumni, family and friends together to work on service projects within and beyond the Charlottesville community. Last year, University students, alumni and friends worked on 38 different projects in 21 states. Many of their projects also focus on Charlottesville itself — they organize events such as holding a soup kitchen or working at the retirement home. Joining Cavaliers Care is a cool way to be actively involved within your University’s local community while having the chance to serve internationally as well.
6. Compete in a club running event
Let’s face it. If you’re like me, running alone is not the most exciting activity. But, running with your friends can actually be fun. Each year, Club Running hosts philanthropy events that raise money for charities, such as Girls on the Run and Special Olympics. So, grab some friends and volunteer by registering to compete in the events, or even to just help organize. Last year, the Spring 2021 Run-a-thon was able to raise $925 for U.Va. Children’s Hospital by selling club merchandise and challenging members to virtual fundraising challenges.
7. Donate to a Charlottesville nonprofit
If fitness isn’t your thing, then consider donating to a nonprofit organization that is based in Charlottesville. There are plenty of nonprofits in the area that have some great causes. One I find amazing is International Neighbors, which is a local nonprofit that serves the refugee and immigrant community. They work to pair native speakers with refugee families, while also providing refugee families with a number of services. Donating to a nonprofit is a quick and easy way to support a cause that you’re passionate about. However much you want to donate will go a long way.
8. Volunteer at a food bank
Food banks and food pantries are always looking for volunteers to ensure good quality customer service to food donors, community groups and agencies. They rely on community members to volunteer their time to help with operational tasks to ensure every client receives the food and the goods they need. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is a local food bank that needs both volunteers and donations. This organization in particular buys truckloads of pre-boxed food items for families in need throughout the 25 counties it serves.
9. Visit VolunteerMatch
VolunteerMatch is a great site to visit if you want to volunteer for the Charlottesville community but don’t necessarily know what you want to do. The website offers virtual and in-person opportunities that range anywhere from food box deliveries to insurance counseling support. Volunteers can join one-on-one conversations with the staff to talk about their interests and passions, and the staff will match them with whatever volunteer program they think best matches them.
10. Create your own philanthropy club
We have established that there are endless opportunities for volunteering within Charlottesville. But this doesn’t mean you can’t come up with something that you are passionate about and create your own philanthropic club. If you have some ideas that involve helping someone in need or if you have a charity that you support, come up with a new or exciting way to raise money or support them.