Service opportunities around Columbia

Posted on: 2/18/2015; Updated on: 10/2/2015
By Student editor

There's a service opportunity for every student and every schedule. Here are some ways students can serve the Columbia community:

Animal Care

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden: Boo at the Zoo

Boo at the Zoo is a great opportunity for you and/or your organization to show its community spirit. Volunteers love being on Riverbanks’ Boo Crew! Boo at the Zoo is a safe and not-so-scary pre-Halloween festival that attracts thousands of guests and little goblins for 15 nights in October. Boo Crew members work in trick-or-treat stations throughout the zoo, handing out candy and treats to kids along the trail. Some volunteers may work in other capacities such as guiding guests through a haunted maze or taking photos.

All volunteers must serve from 5:15 PM until approximately 9:30 PM. All volunteers must wear khaki pants or shorts (no jeans please) and a plain black shirt. Volunteers must be reliable, cheerful, service-oriented, and able to follow directions.

Interested? Contact Tracy Hughes to request the night(s) you/your group are available.

Education and Childcare

AimHigh Education

AimHigh Education, established in 2011, is a leading innovative academic enrichment program that services the students in the Richland 2 school district. We are actively seeking volunteers to assist with student assignments, chaperone duties on field trips, reading to students, and other tasks that assist both students and teachers. These current opportunities will also be extended into the upcoming summer months. Email for more information or call 803-788-6894.

Cocky’s Reading Express
Cocky's Reading Express provides students the opportunity to travel the state with Cocky, visiting elementary schools across South Carolina. The students read to the children, and Cocky helps the children understand the importance of life-long reading. Cocky’s Reading Express will be participating in the Richland County Read-In on Friday, April 14. To view the schedule and join, visit the Cocky's Reading Express website.

Teach for America
Teach For America recruiter, Crystal Daniels, will be on campus next week (Sept. 22-24) and will be hosting informal one-on-one conversations with students to get to know you, hear about the work you’re doing and talk about career options you’re considering after graduation. Meetings will be held in the Leadership and Service Center between 9am-5pm on Wednesday and Thursday. If you’re interested in learning more about TFA, fill out this brief form. Please email to Stephanie Orlando with questions.
Communities in Schools of the Midlands
Communities in Schools of the Midlands is working to change the picture by surrounding students with a community of support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. We are currently recruiting individuals who are committed to serving their community by becoming mentors or tutors for the students we work with.
 For more information, email Kelsey Raithel or 803-254-9727.
Richland Library – eReady Services
Richland Library offers a stellar collection of downloadable titles, information, and materials to our cardholders. Use your technical skills to assist our customers who may need support or have questions about downloading our ebooks, magazines, music or audiobooks. Volunteers needed at the Main Library eReady Counter for one- to two-hour shifts on weekdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please email Cathy Dolan.


Carolina Community Farm & Garden
The Carolina Community Farm & Garden began in 2007 as a community garden and experiential learning tool. It is used for workshops on gardening, food systems and serves as a service learning component for courses at USC. Volunteers are welcome and encouraged to work in exchange for learning about gardening and the concept of permaculture. For more information about volunteering and garden events, visit our volunteer web page or email Allie Mason.

Sustainable Midlands
Sustainable Midlands is a 501(c) 3 that serves as a catalyst to find solutions that balance the needs of the people, planet and economy. We are a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to foster and advocate for sustainable, healthy communities in the Midlands of South Carolina by providing educational resources and facilitating communication among citizens and community leaders. 

Sustainable Midlands is seeking volunteer interns to assist in several roles:

  • Social Media and Marketing
  • Membership and Volunteer Coordination
  • Event Coordination

Interested candidates should email Genevieve Taylor for more information about these positions and to send their resume and cover letter.

Health and Safety

American Red Cross
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.  There are many ways in which volunteers help us accomplish our mission, including being a Donor Ambassador or Transportation Specialist and working with disaster relief. For more information about volunteering, visit the Red Cross website.

Out of Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention
The 2015 Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention is seeking volunteers. We have a walk in the community and on campus. The walk in the community starts at 2 p.m., Oct. 25 with registration at 1 p.m. and is located at the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park. We are looking for volunteers to help with set up for the walk, registering participants, handing out water, managing the walk route and clean up.

If interested, please email Jennifer Myers.

Walk Home Cocky
Student Government's safe walk program, Walk Home Cocky, is looking for volunteers to walk students to requested destinations on campus. The service runs 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m., Sunday-Thursday and is based at Thomas Cooper Library. For more information or to apply, visit the Walk Home Cocky website.

Public Health Volunteer Opportunities
A listing of public health volunteers is available through This resource guide offers readers insight into how volunteering makes a difference, how volunteering can be personally beneficial, things to consider when looking to volunteer, how to find the right opportunity and a list of volunteering resources.

Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, SC
The Ronald McDonald House is looking for volunteer leaders who can volunteer for a three-hour shift at least once a week and commit to a minimum of three months. Positions available from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Volunteers will be leading the running of day to day activities and meals in the house and family room, managing the volunteers and volunteer groups and assisting guests and staff as needed. Volunteer Office Leader positions are also available. For more information, please email Shelby Laterva.


Housing and Homelessness

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

  • Donation Truck Assistant – work with and learn about Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. By participating in the process of how donations are received, processed and used, you will be providing a huge help to our organization as well as getting great insight in the world of nonprofits.

  •  Cash Register Operation - work with our staff and learn the basics of retail though an internship as a ReStore cashier. You will be fully trained on how to operate our register while making a huge impact in providing funds to help build Habitat homes in the Columbia Area

If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, email Talisha Beha, volunteer projects manager, or call 803-217-3212.

Senior Care

Ark Hospice
Hospice Volunteers are needed in Columbia to provide companionship to patients in nursing homes. Even an hour of your time each month can add to the quality of an elderly person’s life and many have fascinating stories to tell about history during their lifetime. For more information, email Lara Wheless or call 864-679-3127.
HarborChase of Columbia
HarborChase Assisted Living is looking for volunteers to interact with older adults through a number of activities. These activities range from morning stretch/exercise classes, arts and crafts, cognitive exercises, trivia, puzzles, board games, etc. For more information, email Heather Burkett.

Service Trips

Fall Alternative Break Trips

The mission of the Alternative Break Program is to engage students in meaningful and collaborative community service in an effort to increase awareness of social issues and strengthen the communities in which they serve as well as foster a strong sense of community among trip participants and the university as a whole.

 Join us for our fall trips. Service will happen from Oct. 22 through Oct. 25. For more information and to sign up, visit our community service page.


Carolina Service Council
Love service? Join Carolina Service Council, a student-run organization that seeks to inspire service and leadership in a fun and open environment. The council works with the community to offer and promote various service projects throughout the year based on the interests of our members. Our larger annual service events include the Stocking Stuffer drive, the Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Horseshoe, Oxfam Hunger Banquet, the Dominican Republic Alternative Break Trip and National Volunteer Week. For more information, come to our weekly meetings at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in Honors B110 or visit our website.

Dobson Volunteer Service Program
UofSC students, faculty and staff are encouraged to apply for funding to complete meaningful, faith-based community service and make a positive impact in communities in the U.S. and around the world through the Dobson Volunteer Service Program. Participants are selected through an application and interview process and can receive up to 50 percent of the needed funding for the trip. The application period for 2016 trips is Sept. 15-Nov. 6. For more information and access to the application, visit the Dobson Volunteer Service Program website

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