Americans are generous in giving of their time to help others. Released a year ago, the Corporation for National and Community Service survey, which gleans its data from the U.S Census Bureau, estimates that 30.3% of Americans volunteer in some capacity, with the largest percentage being in the Generation X age range. The survey showed that 30.8% of South Carolinians volunteer, which equals over 1.2 million people.
Paulette Dunn, executive director at Loaves & Fishes, a local Greenville nonprofit that rescues food from donors like grocery stores and restaurants and helps serve that food to needy residents in the community, says Greenville is certainly a generous town.
“We had over 150 volunteers in 2018 who gave 13,048 hours, which equates to over $300,000 of value to Loaves and Fishes,” Dunn said. “By the end of last year, we had served over 380,000 people in the community and our volunteers play a huge role in our mission.”
Fundraising has the highest volunteer participation at 36%, according to the survey above, and food prep and distribution is right behind at 34%. For the volunteers at Loaves & Fishes, Dunn knows they believe in what the organization is doing on both an environmental and human level since the volunteers play such an integral part in meeting the needs of the community through taking concrete steps not to waste food.
Here in Greenville, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time helping others. We asked our readers where they like to volunteer and did research of our own to find great organizations in town that are in need of extra help.
Loaves & Fishes
25 Woods Lake Road, No. 810, Greenville
Loaves & Fishes rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it to its more than 94 partner agencies in the county, which then make sure it gets to those who need it most. The nonprofit seeks to eliminate food insecurity and just purchased a new walk-in cooler in the Cityview/San Souci community, where 30% of families live below the Federal poverty line — yet where partner agencies could serve only 719 a month out of 50,000 residents. Now they will be able to meet the needs of so many more people there on a 24/7 basis.
What you can do: Loaves & Fishes has daily routes where volunteers rescue, from local grocery stores and restaurants, food that is perfectly good and healthy but would otherwise go to waste, and deliver it to one or more of the partner agencies. Rescue routes take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half to complete. They are also in need of office assistants.
How to volunteer: Fill out a volunteer form online and you’ll be contacted to do a short interview and application and then you’re good to go and start rescuing food.
For more: https://loavesandfishesgreenville.com/
Greer Soup Kitchen
511 E. Poinsett St., Greer
Run by Daily Bread Ministries and based in Greer, the soup kitchen serves more than 150 meals per day to anyone who needs it. They started in 1990 when residents saw community members going hungry and decided to do something positive to help.
What you can do: The soup kitchen has a long list of needs such as hauling food, maintaining the exterior grounds, repairing the plumbing and heating, serving food on Saturdays, sending thank you notes, cleaning up the kitchen, donating and sorting food, office work like going through emails or helping with publicity, and working in the garden. Kids under 14 are not allowed to work in the kitchen but are able to do other work like sorting food.
How to volunteer: Volunteers are at the soup kitchen from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, and from 4-5:30 p.m. Sundays, and they sometimes have other times they need filled. Give them a call to see how you can best be of assistance: 864-968-0323
For more: https://www.greersoupkitchen.com
Meals on Wheels
15 Oregon St., Greenville
Meals on Wheels in Greenville utilizes over 130 volunteers to prep and deliver over 1,200 meals every day. The need is vast for people to help not only deliver food to those who are homebound but also to provide positive interaction and friendship for these individuals.
What you can do: Packing and delivering meals, packing pet food and organizing pet-food drives, greeting incoming volunteers, and helping out with special events that occur throughout the year. Delivering meals usually takes about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
How to volunteer: Fill out an online form, call 864-233-6565, or email [email protected]. Volunteers need to attend a training session before they start helping out with Meals on Wheels. Those sessions are about an hour and happen at 9:30 a.m. Thursdays (they can arrange another time if that doesn’t work). Then adopt a route and start volunteering.
For more: https://mealsonwheelsgreenville.org/
More than just ringing bells during the Christmas season, the Salvation Army has tons of opportunities to volunteer to help the Greenville community.
What you can do: Be a Spanish interpreter at the Angel Tree, provide tutoring or homework, pack food-assistance boxes, serve meals to the homeless, ring bells outside area businesses to collect funds, or serve in the community stores.
How to volunteer: Check out the big volunteer page, which will tell you events they have available where they need help.
202 Victoria St., Greer
This organization seeks to help struggling neighbors overcome barriers for success and eliminate poverty. Founded in 1936 to help people in the community who were freezing and starving, Greer Relief has grown to promote prevention of poverty and empower individuals to take steps for economic success. Last year, the agency worked with over 8,900 people who took the time to help others through Greer Relief.
How you can help: Sort and bag food, answer phones, pick up and deliver donations, take care of the community garden, help residents with their taxes, volunteer for special events.
How to volunteer: While December is usually their biggest month in terms of volunteering, they need help all year. They offer volunteer orientations often so you need to go to one of those first and fill out a short interest form online.
For more: https://greerrelief.org
Center for Community Services
1102 Howard Drive, Simpsonville
Located in Simpsonville, the Center for Community Services essentially helps community members with whatever they need, be it emergency financial assistance or housing help, help with a chronic illness, families who are having trouble navigating SNAP, WIC, or Medicaid, literacy assistance, and even resume and job-hunting help.
What you can do: Crisis interviewers are their greatest need at the moment. Volunteers are also encouraged to host a food drive, pick up food, help maintain the grounds and building, and join the board and planning committees.
How to volunteer: Fill out a volunteer application form online or call CCS at 864.967-2022
For more: https://www.centercs.com
Greenville Humane Society
305 Airport Road, Greenville
GHS seeks to preserve the lives of animals by providing a safe place for rescues and hopefully having them adopted by loving families and pet owners.
What you can do: Walk a dog, take care of cleaning the kennels and animals, greet potential adoptive families, monitor animals in holding rooms, help out in the surgical prep room cleaning instruments and making rice socks, bathe and socialize animals, among other tasks.
How to volunteer: Volunteers must be at least 15 years old, fill out an application, and go to an orientation. Volunteers are asked to make a six-month commitment and volunteer at least once a week.
For more: https://www.greenvillehumane.com
4806 Old Spartanburg Road, Taylors
A program of Greenville County Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Park Heroes organizes both volunteer and financial support for area trails, recreation programs, and parks. The program works with several groups in Greenville that focus on environmental stewardship.
What you can do: Pick up trash along trails and roads, provide maintenance for trails, or plant trees.
How to volunteer: Sign up for the Park Heroes e-blast, which lists upcoming opportunities to volunteer and then pick what you want to do and go. The groups involved with Park Heroes include Trees Upstate (tree planting); Upstate SORBA (trail maintenance); Friends of the Reedy River (river cleanup); Keep Greenville County Beautiful (beautification & litter prevention); and Upstate Stewards (outdoor volunteering and environmental stewardship) out of the Mountain Goat.
Junior League of Greenville
120 Greenacre Road, Greenville
This local organization comprises over 1,200 women whose mission it is to improve Greenville by helping women to overcome barriers with a specific focus on developing the potential in women and combating human trafficking.
What you can do: Volunteers help with projects like the Home Run for Healthy Kids event in the fall, the Holiday Bag Project, where personal bags of treats and self-care items are stuffed and delivered to cancer patients, and the A Nearly New You Project aimed at equipping and educating women in the Upstate to help meet their basic needs. Volunteers are asked to commit for a year of growing and developing their skills with JLG.
How to volunteer: Women 21 and older who are interested in volunteering can join the mailing list at any time and apply to join JLG during a membership recruitment period (the next one is Spring 2020). From there, they are trained and invited to help with any number of projects throughout the year.
For more: https://www.jlgreenville.org