Smile Politely

C-U volunteer roundup

Jake offers some suggestions for how to work without making money (by which we mean volunteering, of course).

Volunteering isn’t just for overeager undergrads looking to beef up their resumes or the elderly tendering your late fees at the library. It’s for the in-a-rut crowd sick of the rat-race, day-in-and-day-out-ness of the paper-pushing grind; for the bunch that wants to learn a skill in their downtime: a real hands-on, learn-something-not-in-theory-or-text-but-in-real-life kind of skill; the ones who feel an inexplicable pull towards kindness and work in the service of others; or for those who simply realize watching TV at home every night is doing no one a lick of good besides your cable company. If you’re one of these, check out these volunteer opportunities that Chambana has to offer.

The Bike Project

— 608 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Champaign, IL and IMC building, 202 S. Broadway, Urbana

According to their website, the offical word on TBP is that it “offers a space, tools, and community to repair bikes, share knowledge, hold classes, and advocate for bikes in Urbana-Champaign.” Volunteer work for TBP can be split into two types: 1) a work-equity system in lieu of paying for membership; and 2) straight-up volunteering to repair other folks’ rides. Both can be done during their open hours, which are listed for each location on their website.

Champaign County Humane Society

— 1911 E. Main St., Urbana

We all kind of love animals, don’t we? Cats are chill and dogs are great. But for CCHS,  you need to LOVE animals. They are serious here. Their website spells it out: “Because it takes time and resources to train new volunteers, we ask that volunteers be prepared to commit to a minimum of 4 months of service.” Orientation sessions are held monthly. Check their calendar for more info, or call (217) 344-7297.

Champaign Park District

 — 706 Kenwood Road, Champaign

If getting greasy at the bike shop isn’t your thing and you’re not a pet person, there is still hope for you. Enter: Champaign Park District. For those with more active-minded aspirations of volunteerism, the CPD offers up opportunities in sports coaching (a variety of youth activities), garden and park work, Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR), Prairie Farm farm hands, and, for some AC in the midst of August, stints at the Virginia Theatre. Forms for each are available on their website.

Champaign Public Library

— 200 W. Green St., Champaign

The sweet temptress of A/C in the summer coupled with the music of mandatory silence makes a library one of the premier places to volunteer in C-U. CPL is a big kahuna in the game, boasting volunteer numbers north of 200. Once engulfed in temperature controlled heaven, volunteers at CPL can assist in a variety of tasks and jobs, from aiding patrons, staffing the FriendShop (and p.s., there are deeply discounted bookstore in the CPL basement), keeping the collections and building spick and span, and even deliveries to home-bound residents in the community.


In future editions of Volunteer Roundup, we’ll discuss specific upcoming volunteering opportunities in the area. For this first edition, we wanted to provide a brief overview of a few organizations which offer volunteering opportunities. Know of specific events? Drop us a line at [email protected].

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