Using Your Powers for Good: Giving Back to Your Community

Introduction

Ut Prosim. There likely isn’t a single Hokie who can’t tell you what this phrase means; “that I may serve.” This motto has been a driving force for Hokies here and abroad for many years and it speaks to the legacy of service and philanthropy that has followed students for the rest of their lives.


If you enjoy getting involved in your community or giving your time to a worthy cause, look no further than your own backyard! There are so many opportunities in Virginia Tech and the greater Blacksburg area to try your hand at volunteering and community-oriented work. On-campus organizations are dedicated to serving our community and Virginia Tech even plans its own philanthropy events to help get students involved. And, if you’re interested in taking your abilities to philanthropy work beyond campus, there are resources to help you find what opportunities fit you best! We’ll be discussing some of the ways you can practice giving back and where to look to find those opportunities.





Volunteer-Oriented Websites

Of course, the easiest way to find volunteer opportunities in your community is to utilize online resources. There are several websites dedicated to listing and searching for specific volunteer events and service-oriented job openings in your geographic area. And, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these services now offer remote volunteer opportunities. Some of the most prominent website include:


VolunteerMatch is one of the largest databases for nonprofit and volunteer programs. The site has connected 16.7 million volunteers to nonprofit organizations. Organizations can post job positions, temporary opportunities, and events on the site and site users are able to indicate their interest in helping with that opportunity. Listings can be filtered by location, target audience (groups, families, adults, etc.), and necessary requirements.


JustServe is another volunteer database that allows organizations to post programs in their local area. However, this site is focused less on of-the-moment one-time opportunities, and more on lasting positions within an organization and participation in ongoing programs. For example, the first listing for the Blacksburg area highlights The Giving Tree Food Pantry, which is looking for volunteers to help with their Friday night food pantry tasks.


DoSomething.org is a youth-focused organization that empowers younger generations to get involved in causes they care about. These causes are usually of a broader nature, such as ending gun violence and improving literacy rates. You can become a member and join young people from over 100 countries to be a part of organized social change initiatives, like signing people up to vote-- and you can earn verified volunteer hours and scholarships while you’re at it!

Idealist is the premier online job search platform for job seekers in the nonprofit sector. This website is similar to Indeed, but focuses on providing listings for positions at socially-focused organizations. You can filter by location, job type (that includes internships!), job function, issue area, and more, to find the perfect fit for your needs. The website also hosts grad fairs to connect recruiters and hiring managers from these organizations to dedicated grad students across the country.




Volunteer Organizations in Blacksburg


If you prefer to get involved with established organizations in the Blacksburg/ New River Valley area, Virginia Tech endorses several organizations that conduct partnerships with the university. If getting off-campus or connected with the local community appeals to you, then you should check out:


This organization supports older adults and their families through comprehensive care programs, abuse prevention services, social events, legal services, and home care. They are currently looking for meal and resource delivery drivers-- those interested in volunteering should email nrvaoa@nrvaoa.org.


The Habitat for Humanity ReStore provides gently used home goods and building materials to the Blacksburg area. Our local ReStore works with Habitat for Humanity NRV to build safe and affordable housing for those in need in our community. They are always looking for people to help build and to help run the donation centers, and volunteers can sign up on their website. They also have various other volunteer needs that require a variety of skills and experiences-- check out their website to see what you could contribute!

If you are more environmentally conscious, then the organizations, clubs, and opportunities listed in Virginia Tech Sustainability Service Opportunities directory may be a good fit for you! This directory lists about 20 different ways you can make a positive impact on the environment here in Blacksburg, including helping with our local farmer’s market. The directory includes all needed information, links to websites and Facebook pages, and points of contact for anyone interested in lending a helping hand.


The United Way is one of the oldest and most established nonprofit organizations in America. It is a reputable source of impactful volunteer programs and works to connect local organizations to volunteers to help meet their immediate needs. Its New River Valley branch works with a diverse group of organizations, such as the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley and NRCA Emergency Assistance Food Pantries. Many organizations need both resources and volunteers, so if you are not able to give your time, lists of necessary materials to donate can also be found.


Of course, who hasn’t heard of the YMCA? Our local YMCA gets involved in many community events and hosts ongoing volunteer programs that encourage VT students to give back. The YMCA hosts a craft fair and a book fair in Christiansburg, which are now seeking volunteers! If you want to dedicate your time to an ongoing project, they also need volunteers to help staff their thrift shop and to participate in their Meals on Main meal delivery program. You can sign up for all of these opportunities and more on their website.





Service Organizations at Virginia Tech