Get into the holiday spirit of giving while beefing up your university applications. Students can use their spare time over the Thanksgiving and winter breaks to volunteer in the community and explore long-term volunteer opportunities that university admissions offices, scholarship boards and graduate schools look for on applications.
“They are looking for your impact over time, as opposed to [volunteering] just a little bit here and there,” said Jane Reynolds, Director of Enrollment Services and Student Success at Oregon State University-Cascades Campus. “It shows commitment to something.”
Volunteering not only bolsters your resume but makes a lasting impact on everyone involved, but according to Reynolds “it has to be meaningful.”
“You have to like what you’re doing and contribute to something you care about,” Reynolds said.
Bend Parks and Recreation District
BPRD has seemingly endless opportunities for those who want to volunteer with kids, the disabled or sports programs.
For sports enthusiasts, BPRD is looking for coaches for youth sports to lead two practices and one game each week (youth and middle school basketball programs and spring lacrosse, softball and tennis).
For students looking to work with kids or major in education, there are opportunities in school and day recreation programs for elementary school-age children. These programs include: Kids Inc., an after school activity program at various locations (one afternoon a week from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.) and Wednesday enrichment programs (Wednesdays from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.), which include a variety of science, arts and crafts, cooking, sports and nature activities.
There are also therapeutic recreation programs for students who would like to help children and adults with disabilities: Wednesday cooking and crafts (held Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m.) and Kids Adventure Days (one Saturday a month from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).
Contact: Kim Johnson
BPRD Volunteer Coordinator
Bethlehem Inn: “Transforming lives with shelter, help and hope”
The Bethlehem Inn provides shelter and meals for 90 residents on a daily basis. Currently, the shelter is in need of on-going help providing hot breakfasts to its residents on weekends.
“Residents often eat cold cereal and pastries during the week, whatever we have,” said Lynn Edwards, Director of Outreach. “It’s nice to provide them with a hot, nutritious breakfast on weekends.”
Since Bethlehem Inn lacks their own facilities, they turn to volunteers to cook the meals at home and bring them to the inn. Volunteers have access to their food pantry for ingredients.
Volunteers over the age of 21 are also needed at the front desk, for 2-hour shifts from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Contact: Lynn Edwards
Director of Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator
Equine Outreach Horse Rescue
Equine Outreach is currently at maximum capacity with over 100 horses. The organization rescues horses that have been abused, neglected and abandoned.
Donis Leach, Equine Outreach volunteer coordinator, says that the work may not be glamorous, but there is an opportunity to work with and help horses.
“We always need more volunteers, and when the weather gets bad, we need more because people aren’t as willing to come out. We are taking care of horses 365 days a year,” Leach said.
Volunteers are needed to help feed, groom and care for the horses. Those interested are encouraged to attend an orientation, held on the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. Although it helps to have been around horses, no special skills are required. Volunteers are free to work whenever they choose and more permanent positions available for those interested.
Contact: Donis Leach
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity provides low income families and individuals with affordable housing and home repair services. They are currently looking for volunteers to help with construction, Monday through Wednesday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Volunteers will help with our 107th home in Bend doing a variety of projects depending on where we are in the construction phase,” said Robin Cooper Engle, Community Outreach Manager. “We will most likely be working on the foundation and framing of the house.”
Their new ReStore will also be opening on Nov. 25.
Volunteers are needed Tuesday through Saturday to greet customers, cashier, receive donations, pick up donations with the truck, and help with building materials, furniture and appliances as needed.
Volunteer orientations are held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at the Habitat office or every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at their new ReStore location. Volunteer days and hours may change in January.
Contact: Robin Cooper Engle
Community Outreach Manager
If you love helping people and animals, volunteering at Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center might be for you. The organization helps individuals, ages 2 to 80, with physical and emotional need through contact with horses.Volunteers are needed for a variety of positions, from stall muckers and groomers to ‘side walkers’ who provide physical support to riders and help instructors.
The center requires volunteers to undergo a background check and an initial orientation, the next of which will be held in January.
Contact: Carly Wilson
During the holidays, the Humane Society of Central Oregon needs volunteers to process items at their thrift store, which funds one-third of their operating costs.
They are also currently looking for “Feline Friends” to socialize and interact with cats at the shelter. This requires training and a 6-month commitment of 5 hours a month.
Contact: Jennifer Enna
The American Red Cross Mountain River Chapter is currently seeking volunteers for four key positions that require a 6-12 month commitment. The positions are donor ambassadors who help at the blood donor registration desk, volunteers in the canteen to provide snacks and monitor individuals after donation, administrative volunteers who will be working with excel, graphs, designs, databases, different types of media, etc. and volunteers to work information tables at events.
Mary Tyler, the volunteer representative for Central Oregon, is also looking for one or two part-time, unpaid interns for 12 weeks this summer to assist with blood drives, the donation center, work in high schools, team leadership, develop training materials, etc. Students are asked to apply before the middle of winter term.
Contact: Mary Tyler
Red Cross Volunteer Recruitment Representative for Central and Eastern Oregon
During the holidays, bell ringers are needed to stand outside stores and collect donations. Volunteers are asked to apply between now and the week before Christmas to work in four hour shifts, Monday thru Saturday. “Runners” are also needed at their distribution center to gather toys and clothes that will be handed out on Dec. 17.
Throughout the year, the Salvation Army needs help in their food pantry from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. They are also asking for music students to help start up a youth music program in January and help with the organization’s 150th anniversary 5k March for Celebration in May.
Contact: Jeremy Aird
(541) 389-8888, Ext. 200
Volunteer Connect is an excellent resource for finding the perfect volunteer opportunity in Central Oregon. With over 130 partner agencies and 55 different search criteria, they were recommended as the number one go-to website by most of the organizations we spoke to.
Diane Adams, the Volunteer Coordinator at Volunteer Connect, said that volunteering is one way to “introduce somebody to job skills while giving back. It also allows them to walk away with a sense of what they want to do.”
For Adams, volunteering as a tutor was enough to inspire her to pursue a degree in education. The website offers opportunities in all types of fields, everything from education, event planning and even tax preparation.
Contact: Diane Adams
Kelli Pangle | The Broadside