Ways You Can Help

Donate Your New and Gently Used Children’s Books

More than half of all low-income children own no books at all.  Ask your kids to help you declutter your shelves of books they have outgrown; those books can have a new life with a child who needs them.
  • Book Harvest collects new and gently used children’s books and partners with twenty community organizations to distribute the books to kids who need them.  Board books and picture books for the youngest readers are especially needed.  Donors can drop their books in the book bins at Twig, Flyleaf, or The Children’s Store; or they can contact Ginger Young at [email protected] or at (919) 428-0511 to arrange to donate books or to find out about additional volunteer opportunities.

Donate Food to a Food Pantry
Have your child pick out one item each time you go to the store. When you get a bagful, take it to a local food pantry. Or lead a drive with your playgroup, neighborhood or church.

Walk For a Cause

Many organizations use walks to increase awareness and raise funds. Kids aged five and older can walk a few miles, and you can push little ones in a stroller.

  • Girls on the Run of the Triangle is a character development program for girls ages 8-12 that uses running to teach values and a sense of self. The program combines training to participate in a non-competitive 1 or 3.1 mile walk/run event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts and a community service project. Open to children of all ages and adults
  • The Great Human Race is a fundraiser for all Triangle area nonprofits. Hosted by the Volunteer Center of Durham, the race is in two parts: a 5K competitive run/walk and a 5K non-competitive walk for nonprofits and their supporters. Open to children of all ages and adults.

Assist the Elderly

Your family can be matched with one person to call on regularly.

  • A Helping Hand, Chapel Hill Volunteers give companionship, provide transportation to doctor appointments, run errands, and assist with correspondence and simple household chores. Children can participate by visiting a nursing home resident, raking leaves or planting flowers, singing to nursing home residents, doing a craft to be presented as a birthday gift, or making cards. Call 919-969-7111 or e-mail Lauren Robison. Open to children of all ages and adults
  • Friends of Triangle Seniors and Food Assistance, Chapel Hill Services provided to seniors include transporting them to doctor appointments, grocery stores, banks, etc.; picking up prescriptions/medications from pharmacies; paying bills; organizing mail/paperwork/forms; creating monthly budgets; cleaning homes; preparing meals; providing companionship; and doing yard work or home repairs. Call A. J. Rosenberg at 919-806-4922. Open to children of all ages and adults.

Respect the Environment

Pick up litter at a local park or while you take a walk in the neighborhood.

  • North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill Many opportunities to volunteer including being a tour guide, teaching assistant, or summer camp assistant; taking care of gardens doing weeding, raking, and supervised plant care; working in the library, gift shop, or reception, and more. Call Shanna at 919-962-0522. Depending upon the volunteer activity, could be open to children ~ 6+ and adults
  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Opportunities to assist a farm on the annual Farm Tour. Call Elizabeth at 919-542-2402. Open to children ~ 6+ and adults. Administrative support: Open only to adults.
  • SEEDS A non-profit urban gardening and greening organization that supports 10 community gardens in Durham and one in Carrboro. For information about volunteering, contact Emily Boynton at 919-683-1197 or via email.

Befriend Someone With a Developmental Disability

Call a residential treatment center for the developmentally disabled in your area and ask to be matched with an adult whom you can include in family events, holiday activities, and outings.

  • Compeer of Orange County Compeer matches community volunteers with children and adults receiving mental-health treatment. Open to children of all ages and adults (at the discretion of the parent and the adult receiving treatment).
  • NC Therapeutic Riding Center (NCTRC), Durham A non-profit organization that provides horseback riding lessons for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities, as a source of therapy and for fun. NCTRC is looking for volunteers to serve as leaders and sidewalkers. Leaders lead the horses around the arena. Sidewalkers walk beside the horse and rider and provide physical and mental support as needed. Contact Amber Windham at 336-592-0578 or via email.

Deliver Meals

You and your child can bring both hot food and companionship to homebound people through a local charity food service.

  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels Delivers meals to homebound individuals. Call 919-942-2948. Open to children of all ages and adults
  • Fearrington Cares, Pittsboro Volunteers can pick up and deliver meals or groceries on request. Call 919-542-1930. Open to children of all ages and adults.

Offer a Lift

Take your kids along to drive elderly people or patients with AIDS or cancer to their medical appointments, or take nursing-home residents or isolated seniors to the grocery store or to visit friends.

Help Patients in Hospitals

  • Ronald McDonald House, Chapel Hill Help prepare dinner for 30-35 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill as their children receive medical treatment in nearby hospitals. Volunteers will be contacted by the Project Leader and asked to bring $5-$10 worth of ingredients to help in the cooking. Contact Laura Webb at 919-913-2040.
  • UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill Children younger than college age aren’t able to volunteer due to infection control and privacy issues, but there are lots of ideas for donations for individual families or groups. Adult patients may not have family nearby and often are especially in need. Donate holiday presents for adult or pediatric patients; new clothing items, especially bathrobes, slippers, etc. for in the hospital or sweatsuits for discharge; craft items for kids; books, magazines and crossword puzzles for adults; phone cards or grocery store cards for families. Contact the main volunteer office at 919-966-4793.

Be Kind to Animals

Volunteer to care for abandoned dogs or cats.

Fight Poverty and Homelessness

  • PTA Thrift Shop, Chapel Hill Volunteer opportunities include sorting through donations, stocking shelves, collecting grocery bags, gardening/groundskeeping, using computer skills, and special projects such as making floats for the annual Holiday Parade. Age limit for retail stores is middle school due to insurance and safety issues. For middle school age, ratio has to be 1 adult for every 3 children. Contact Emily Gordon, volunteer coordinator, at 919-942-6565 or via email.
  • Stand up for Kids, Durham Empower homeless and street kids toward lifelong personal growth through a national on the streets program. Create in these youths a caring and belief in themselves through open straightforward counseling and educational programs.
  • Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, Chapel Hill Serve meals in the soup kitchen (children 12 & over). Cook at home with the kids then bring a meal to the transitional housing program. Help with Project Happy Birthday by preparing bags of goodies. Collect food, clothing, or other needed items listed on the website. Contact Elizabeth Garfunkel at 919-929-6380 or via email.