Smile Politely

C-U volunteer roundup: November

The seasons have begun to transition without warning, and the frigid north wind has whisked away the leaves that have embraced the tips of the trees. Cold has become a burden. But warmth, essential to the holiday season, cannot be purchased. It is given and received. Below are opportunities for you to spread the warmth of your heart to others this November. 

1. Indi Go Artist Co-Op Volunteers

Do you love looking at photographs? Are you an art-enthusiast? This opportunity might just be up your alley. The Indi Go Artist Co-Op showcases contemporary art for artists in the Champaign-Urbana area. The Co-Op, located on 9 E. University in Champaign, is looking for volunteers who can help greeting visitors and maintain the gallery.

There are two upcoming photography exhibitions that may need some volunteers: Uncommon Interests Photo Gala, which will go from November 8 to 12 and Lenseless: Photography by Katherine Clayton, which will go from November 15 to 25.

For more information, check out and sign up dates or contact Caroline Baljon.

2. Adult Services: Computer Volunteers

The holidays are just around the corner, and jobs for seasonal positions are opening up. With your computer skills, you might just be that person who can help someone tidy up his resume, fill out an application or construct an email of interest to an employer.

Volunteer coordinator Eva Liu said that lately many of volunteers have been helping patrons with applying for jobs at the Champaign Public Library. Liu said that she needs volunteers that can dedicate two to three hours per week, have basic knowledge of Microsoft Office and navigating the Internet, and are comfortable working with people. Volunteers may also help with social networking, creating Word documents, using scanners and printers.
For more information, contact volunteer coordinator, Liu at [email protected] or 217-403-2070.

3. AWESOME Tutors/Children’s Program Aides

Even though the migrant season is over, the Multicultural Community Center, known for its services for migrants and agricultural workers, is now looking for volunteers interested in working with children in high-risk families. According to Jessica Alvarez, an infant/toddler teacher, the Rantoul center needs volunteers between 3:30–5:30 p.m. to help tutor children in various subjects and help with homework or outside activities.

Alvarez also said that there are other opportunities for volunteers with various skills. She suggests to filling out the application, sending an email to [email protected] or calling (217) 892-4466 for more information.

4. The Center for Women in Transition

Tis the season to be—shopping! The Center for Women in Transition needs volunteers who are interested in retail and have enthusiastic personalities to help out during this holiday season at the Transitions Thrift Store and Donation Center located in the Lincoln Square Mall.

Mary Wallace said that thrift store is “like many retail stores” in that they sell gently used clothing and shoes for men, women and children. Wallace said that the thrift store is expanding to collecting house ware and furniture.

“What makes us different is that the items are all donated, and so all of the profits go back into our center,” Wallace said.

Volunteers typically help with sorting donations, interacting with customers, and are willing to commit to a two to three hour shift a week. The center, founded in 1985, has helped women regain their strength, confidence and empowerment after being victims of domestic violence and/or homelessness. The center is dedicated to assisting women (single or single mothers) with gaining an education, resume building skills, parenting support and programs for children for school readiness.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do is not just provide a roof over one’s head for one night, but instead, help women develop the skills and work on the goals that are going to allow them to be stable and self-sufficient,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the thrift store is a part of the center’s program that helps women learn basic work skills and job training. As for volunteers, they can expect the center to be a “basic retail operation,” meaning that they will deal with creating item displays, sorting out donations and interacting with customers.

For more information, Wallace may be reached at [email protected].

5. Junior Volleyball League

Bump, set and spike your way through coaching the fifth to eighth graders’ junior volleyball leage at the Champaign Park District. Shake off that winter cold and those holiday pounds by working up a sweat, playing volleyball and helping kids improve their skills. Volunteers must submit their applications by mid-December and have previous coaching experience. Apply for positions here.

6. Crisis Nursery


It’s gift-giving season, so give the gift of caring to the children at the Crisis Nursery in Urbana. The Nursery, which provides a 24-hour emergency care for new-borns to six-year-olds, is a program that focuses on child care, parenting skills and family support, and they need volunteers who love working with children, a willingness to learn and a strong passion for helping children.

Rebecca Freeman, volunteer program coordinator, defined crisis as “any situation that causes a family stress – from domestic violence to homelessness to no power to a medical emergency to a member in the family needing to go to an AA meeting.”

Freeman advised that volunteers need to be flexible and have the ability to adapt in immediate situations. “It depends on what children we have here for crisis. It could be crazy busy, or the next time, it could be fairly slow and low key. It can vary from week to week, as well as hour to hour.”

Volunteers must help a minimum of two hours a week for at least six months. Volunteers associate with children and their activities, as well as helping them with basic needs such as bottle feeding or putting their jackets on. An application must be completed that can be found on the website. Freeman can be reached at 217-337-2731 or [email protected].

7. Champaign County Nursing Home

It’s getting colder outside and walking the dog outside doesn’t sound ideal. So, why not have your favorite family pet take a stroll at The Champaign County Nursing Home to make some new friends? The nursing home is looking for committed volunteers to bring their pets to spend time with their residents. According to, pets must be leashed and up-to-date with their shot. For more information, contact Karen L. Nokke at [email protected] or call 217-693-5016.

8. Salvation Army: Canteen Runs

Help someone stay warm this winter by delivering winter essentials and food to them through The Salvation Army’s Canteen Run, who are looking for volunteers. The Canteen Runs involve small ambulances that are filled with drawers and boxes full of donated hats, gloves, blankets, food and water. Volunteers meet at the Salvation Army on Market Street and make stops at the Champaign Bus Illinois Terminal, Champaign Public Library, the Urbana Public Library and Scott Park. For any questions, contact Barb Davies at [email protected].

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