Volunteering can help students develop valuable skills, gain practical experience in their chosen field of study, and connect with professionals and potential employers.
A wide range of volunteer opportunities is available to college students in the US. Many colleges and universities have their service organizations, such as student-led volunteer groups or campus chapters of national organizations like Habitat for Humanity or the Red Cross. Numerous national organizations offer volunteer opportunities specifically for students, such as the Student Conservation Association or the American Cancer Society’s Colleges Against Cancer program.
Some colleges and universities even require students to complete several community service hours for their degree requirements. These service requirements can help students develop a sense of civic responsibility and encourage them to give back to their communities.
Volunteering can also positively impact students’ mental health and overall well-being. According to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, college students who volunteered reported higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than those who did not.
Volunteering not only enhances your life but also positively impacts those around you. Knowing where to begin can be challenging, so we’ve crafted this article for you. Champaign & Urbana offers numerous volunteer opportunities, ensuring something for everyone, regardless of your interests.
So why wait? National Volunteer Week, held from April 19-25, honors the significant impact of volunteerism while emphasizing its potential to address society’s most pressing issues. This annual celebration recognizes volunteers’ vital role in building robust communities and fostering transformative change worldwide.
Start exploring the many volunteer opportunities in your community today and discover how you can make a positive impact while enriching your life.
From Stressed to Blessed: How Volunteering Can Boost Your College Experience
Enhance Your Job Opportunities and Elevate Your Resume by Volunteering
Did you know that volunteering can increase your chances of finding employment? That’s right! According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteer individuals have a 27% higher likelihood of finding employment. Employers are also more inclined to choose a candidate with volunteer experience. They are 82% more likely to select someone with volunteering experience and 85% more likely to overlook any flaws in their resume when they see volunteer experience listed.
For students who are preparing to enter the workforce, volunteering is an excellent way to enhance their resumes and differentiate themselves from other candidates who possess similar qualifications. So, if you want to stand out among the competition and increase your chances of landing your dream job, volunteering is the way to go!
Build Your Skills and Talents
Did you know that volunteering can help students expand their learning horizons? By participating in community service, students can gain valuable real-world experience and develop essential skills such as leadership, problem-solving, and time management. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity for students to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom to real-life scenarios with significant implications.
What’s even more exciting is that volunteering can offer the same skill-enhancing opportunities as student internships but with the bonus of making a positive impact on the lives of others.
Forge Meaningful Relationships
College is undoubtedly a fantastic experience, but it can also be quite stressful. It’s a time when young adults are expected to become independent, learn time management skills, and navigate the real world. However, extra-curricular activities like volunteering can help alleviate stress and improve emotional well-being by providing an outlet for students to impact their community while enhancing their time management skills positively.
Numerous studies have highlighted the mental and physical health benefits of volunteering, making it an excellent option for students looking to take care of their well-being and make a difference. Moreover, community service can instill in college students a sense of social responsibility they can carry forward throughout their lives.
The Wide Range of Volunteering Options in Champaign & Urbana
Champaign & Urbana offers many volunteer opportunities that cater to a diverse range of interests and skill sets. Whether you’re passionate about animal welfare, environmental conservation, community development, or social justice, you’ll find a volunteer opportunity that aligns with your values and aspirations.
If you’re a cat lover seeking more feline interaction, CATsNAP might be the purr-fect volunteering opportunity for you! As a non-profit organization, CATsNAP is dedicated to finding loving homes for cats in need, providing essential care for feline companions, and advocating for responsible and healthy cat population control. By volunteering with CATsNAP, you’ll have the chance to positively impact the lives of cats in your community while also getting your daily dose of kitty cuddles.
Iroquois County Animal Rescue
Iroquois County Animal Rescue work towards alleviating the suffering of domestic animals in Iroquois County and providing for their long-term care. Additionally, they focus on controlling animal overpopulation not only in Iroquois County but also in surrounding counties.
Champaign County Humane Society
The Champaign County Humane Society (CCHS) is an animal welfare organization committed to preventing cruelty to animals and promoting their well-being. Through education and outreach programs, CCHS seeks to raise public awareness about the importance of humane care and treatment of animals while also addressing the issue of companion animal overpopulation and working to provide effective solutions. Additionally, CCHS provides high-quality shelter, medical care, and adoption services to animals in need, ensuring they receive the care and attention they deserve. By supporting CCHS’s mission, you can help make a difference in the lives of animals in your community.
Hospice Hearts Animal Rescue
At Hospice Hearts, there are several ways to get involved and make a difference as a volunteer. One of the primary needs is providing transportation for adoption and special events.
Society for Hooved Animal Rescue & Emergencies (SHARE)
SHARE is a non-profit humane society in the Champaign, IL, area that covers a large portion of Illinois through its team of investigators. The organization provides housing, care, and training to approximately 40 rescue horses at any given time to ensure their well-being and safety.
Get Hands-On Agriculture Experience
Sola Gratia Farm
Sola Gratia Farm focuses on producing natural, locally-grown, high-quality products for the community. This community-based farm enterprise is guided by the Gospel and driven by a desire to help food-insecure people, with ten percent of the farm’s produce being donated to regional hunger programs. In addition to promoting healthy lifestyles through its produce, the farm also offers education, service, and outreach programs to build and strengthen the community.
The Land Connection
The Land Connection promotes sustainable agriculture by educating farmers on resilient and therapeutic techniques. They also strive to raise public awareness of the importance of knowing where our food comes from and its impact on our health and environment. Furthermore, the organization works to preserve and improve farmland to ensure that future generations can access fresh and healthy food while maintaining clean air and water.
The University of Illinois Extension
At U of I Extension, they believe in providing practical and trustworthy education to help individuals, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Their educational programs cover five areas of focus, including energy and environmental stewardship, food safety and security, economic development and workforce preparedness, family health, financial security and wellness, and youth development. By offering educational programs in these areas, U of I Extension aims to empower individuals and communities to make informed decisions and take actions that will positively impact their lives and the world around them.
Women Changing the Face of Agriculture
Women Changing the Face of Agriculture project aims to empower women in agriculture by providing them with a unique opportunity to explore various career paths in the industry. Through this outreach program, attendees can gain valuable insights and information directly from successful women’s agriculture professionals. They believe in promoting inclusivity and diversity in agriculture and hope to inspire more women to pursue careers in this rewarding and impactful sector.
Enrich Your Life and Theirs: Volunteer with Children Today
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Champaign County
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to create long-lasting, professionally guided 1-to-1 relationships that positively impact the lives of children facing adversity.
Champaign County YMCA- Larkin’s Place
As a prominent nonprofit community service organization, the Champaign County YMCA provides top-tier health and fitness facilities, day camps, and multiple child-care locations.
Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club
Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club relies on volunteers to provide exceptional programs, foster significant connections, and motivate youth to achieve their maximum potential.
Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center
The Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center supports 20-30 K-12 students in Urbana public school district #116. The center provides homework assistance through dedicated tutors, and students receive a comprehensive program to enhance their curriculum and computer software skills.
First String is a non-profit organization that provides sports activities to youth in the Champaign-Urbana area. They offer baseball to children aged 5-12 and basketball to those aged 5-17, providing an organized and safe environment for the youth to expend their energy.
Fighting for Change: Volunteer Opportunities in Social Justice and Civil Rights
Champaign Community Coalition
The Community Coalition is a System of Care Network that aims to pinpoint and tackle pressing community concerns that affect the well-being of families and young individuals residing in Champaign-Urbana.
Community Relations Office
The Community Relations Office is a crucial intermediary between the City Manager’s Office and the local community. Their team guarantees equal opportunities and just treatment for residents by educating them about and implementing the City’s Human Rights Ordinance and Equal Opportunity and Purchasing Ordinance. Additionally, the Community Relations Office offers administrative assistance to the City’s Human Relations Commission and manages the efforts of the Champaign Community Coalition.
Education Justice Project
EJP is a dynamic academic collective of prisoners, educators, formerly incarcerated persons, relatives of prisoners, and others dedicated to creating a fairer and more compassionate world through education and critical consciousness. They believe that providing high-quality higher education opportunities to inmates in American penitentiaries is a vital stride towards realizing this objective. As such, EJP provides educational courses at Danville Correctional Center in partnership with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Since 1873, the University YMCA has sponsored various programs, organizations, and activities intending to promote ethical and moral leadership focused on creating a better world, fostering better human relations, and advocating for better environmental care. Over time, the YMCA has become central for student-led initiatives and community engagement in addressing faith, ethics, justice, and equality concerns. Acknowledging that many individuals are called by their faith to serve and advocate for justice, the YMCA’s personnel strive to develop programs linking religious beliefs with justice issues.
Unleash Your Creativity: Volunteer in the World of Arts and Design
Champaign County Historical Museum
The Champaign County Historical Museum, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, aims to preserve and showcase Champaign County’s rich history through various artifacts and educational activities. As a volunteer at the museum, one can help in multiple areas such as documenting, exhibit care, photography, and much more. Join the team in its mission to interpret and promote the county’s history to the public.
The I.D.E.A. Store
The I.D.E.A. Store, run by the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation, is a unique enterprise that supports local public schools by selling donated materials for art projects. The store is a hub for artists and educators alike, and it offers a constantly evolving inventory of materials suitable for all kinds of projects. The I.D.E.A. Store is committed to providing environmentally friendly, educational art to the community and relies on volunteers to help fulfill this mission.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts allows students and community members to engage closely with the arts through volunteer programs. By joining as a volunteer, you can contribute significantly to ensuring the seamless execution of performances at the center while creating a welcoming environment for all patrons. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain hands-on experience and immerse yourself in performing arts.
Ready to Make a Difference? Use These Top Resources to Find Your Perfect Volunteering Opportunity!
Involved at Illinois
Involved at Illinois program highlights the impressive commitment of service-oriented registered student organizations at the University of Illinois. Undoubtedly, you will discover a group that aligns with your interests and allows you to engage with the Power of I fully.
Volunteer Illini Projects
Volunteer Illini Projects (VIP) is a volunteer organization run by students, for students, with a dedication to promoting peace, unity, and change. VIP achieves this through community engagement and service, enriching students’ educational experiences, and instilling a lifelong commitment to volunteering.
VIP emphasizes building unity and strengthening personal relationships through mutual understanding and empowerment. Their commitment to positive social action is rooted in the dynamic traditions of past student-led initiatives and is the guiding force behind the future of Volunteer Illini Projects, Inc.
Volunteer Illini offers diverse projects for individuals looking to impact their community positively. Some of the many projects available include:
- Animal Allies
Individuals interested in volunteering can collaborate with shelters to care for abused and neglected animals while promoting their adoption and long-term well-being. Additionally, they can participate in community outreach efforts to offer educational resources and support for pet enthusiasts spanning all age groups.
- Arts Outreach
Individuals can discover and nurture their artistic abilities while experiencing the therapeutic benefits of engaging with the arts through Arts Outreach. This program leverages student creativity for the betterment of people’s lives. Participants are invited to explore the potential of various art forms, including drama, visual art, music, photography, film, dance, theater, and literature, to transform someone’s ordinary day into an extraordinary one.
- Community Justice
The Community Justice project works to provide a source of comfort for prisoners in nearby correctional facilities. Volunteers can become pen pals and write letters throughout the semester.
This project is centered around improving and restoring the environment in the Champaign-Urbana area. It achieves this through partnerships with local park districts and forest, nature, and wildlife preserves. Volunteers can play a vital role as advocates, raising awareness about a wide range of environmental concerns within the community.
- Hunger & Homelessness
The Hunger and Homelessness program offers various volunteer options to provide assistance and optimism to homeless individuals within local communities. Volunteers can partake in weekly events at the Wesley Food Pantry and UniPlace Church and one-time opportunities to contribute to their community.
The Immigration initiative facilitates connections between students and immigrants/refugees residing within their community. The project strives to promote integration by offering support through services such as English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring, translation assistance, and linking immigrants with local resources. The program’s overall objective is to help individuals of any nationality adapt to their new homes and surroundings.
Endless Opportunities for Growth and Experience
While we have provided a selection of volunteering options in Champaign and Urbana, it is essential to recognize that there are countless other ways to give back to your community. Opportunities may have yet to be discovered.
Suppose the options do not align with your interests. In that case, we encourage you to explore other extensive lists of volunteering opportunities in the CU area. Whether your passion lies in assisting people, animals, nature, or construction projects, volunteering can positively impact and facilitate change in your community.
Leap and get involved!