Volunteering is an important way to give back to your community. No matter what your interests, abilities, and availability, there’s a perfect volunteer opportunity for you.
If there is a field or cause that is close to your heart, we suggest that you start there, as passion is a wonderful fuel for volunteering.
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in Columbus for families, groups, teens, college students, and older adults, as well as times and opportunities for adults who work full time.
Volunteer in Columbus
We divided our list up into categories to help you find the perfect fit for you. Check back regularly as we add more organizations that need your help!
If you volunteer somewhere and would like the organization to be added to the list, please leave a note in the comments, or email email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Most of this list was compiled pre-COVID, so opportunities may have changed or may not be currently available. Click on the links for contact information or to see most current volunteer opportunities.
Meal Service and Food Banks in Columbus
Mid-Ohio Foodbank: (3960 Brookham Drive, Grove City)
- The South Side Roots Cafe and Market: Serving customers, stocking, food prep, etc. at this pay-what-you-can Cafe. Volunteers can be ages 13+.
- Sorting, packing, stocking (age varies based on tasks; 13 and up)
- Pantry Assistant at The Kroger Community Food Pantry at Mid-Ohio Foodbank: Help shoppers in the pantry and Pantry Express. Ages 16+, or 11-15 with an adult.
- Shop Thru Volunteer to assist partner agencies with pickups. Ages 16+
- Off-site pantry assistants and volunteers (age varies on location)
- Community Garden volunteers (in season): Ages 6+ depending on tasks
Dublin Food Pantry: (81 West Bridge St., Dublin) Ages 16 and up can help with sorting, stocking, set-up, and 18+ can help with client shopping. Offsite special event and major food drives need volunteers as well.
Worthington Resource Pantry: (6700 Huntley Rd., Columbus). Ages 14+ can help with sorting, inspecting and repacking food donations, stocking shelves, greeting families and answering their questions, helping families choose their groceries. You may assist with administrative duties, direct families to available resources, participate in food drives and work on special projects.
Family Mentor Foundation (7433 Oakmeadows Drive Columbus) Seeks to help meet the unmet needs of children in our community through a variety of programs and resources. Providing Buddy Bags to children to take home over the weekend ensures they have food to eat that they can prepare themselves. Volunteers can participate in the Gather and Give events, where they will pack Buddy Bags for kids to take home to sustain them while they are at home on weekends. Ages 4 and up are welcome, with appropriate adult supervision (1 adult per 3 kids max).
- Meals on Wheels Drivers: Weekly and holiday options, 1-2 hours minimum
- Meals-on-Wheels Kitchen Groups: Organizing, plating food,
- Senior PetCare Program: Volunteers help seniors care for their pets by dropping off pet food, walking and caring for pets so that pets can remain in the home.
- Groceries-to-Go Food Pantry Driver: Deliver groceries to homebound patients living with cancer or HIV/AIDS.
- Groceries-to-Go Food Pantry Assistant: Organizing, packing, sorting
- Other opportunities are available with Columbus Cancer Clinic, Wellness Centers, Senior Dining Centers, office workers, and more.
Free Stores and Family Assistance in Columbus
Welcome Warehouse: (Dublin) Helping families in the Dublin School District meet basic needs through the free store, emergency household assistance, and bed donation program. Volunteers are needed for for sorting donations, free shop volunteer, translators, mattress delivery, and volunteers during the Back-to-School Outreach in August. Ages 15 and up.
Furniture Bank of Central Ohio (118 South Yale Avenue Columbus): Wide range of opportunities (one-time and ongoing) including Furniture repair, assembly, Thrift store volunteers, loading and unloading, client services, housewares organization, and more.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Volunteers are needed to assist customers, stock shelves, organize product displays, and unload donations from the vehicles of individual donors and ReStore trucks. Volunteers also assist with the processing of donations and administrative paperwork. Heavy lifting can be involved. Individuals must be 14 years older to volunteer in the ReStore. Youth under the age of 18 must have parent or guardian permission. Plenty of shifts are available, and you can sign up online for your shifts once you are an volunteer.
At-risk Adult Populations
Freedom a la Cart:123 E Spring St, Columbus, OH 43215
Partners with CATCH Court to provide supportive services to the survivors in the program. CATCH aims to break the cycle of abuse for victims of human trafficking, prostitution, and sexual exploitation by providing resources, community, and accountability.
The women of CATCH Court have support from many agencies to help them navigate the new life journey they are beginning, Freedom a la Cart provides personal mentors to offer life coaching and emotional support. Mentors show unconditional love and friendship, teach new social norms, and act as a support person.
The weekly time commitment to be a CATCH mentor is minimal (approximately 2 hours per week) but requires consistency. Mentors are paired with a new participant in the 2-year CATCH Court program, so we ask that you commit 2 years to your relationship with your mentee.
Other volunteer opportunities include catering and packing boxed lunches, transportation, education and career mentoring for workforce training program, and more. Freedom a la Cart requires all mentors/volunteers to obtain a background check. Check the website for more details and upcoming mentor training.
Homeless Shelters and Soup Kitchens in Columbus
Columbus Dream Center: (38 West Greenwood Ave) Volunteer opportunities include working with kids, serving meals, cleaning and organizing, community outreach and more.
Star House: (1220 Corrugated Way) Drop in center for homeless youth. Volunteer opportunities are categorized as Indirect and Direct Engagement. Indirect Engagement opportunities do not involve direct interaction with our guests and are open to minors ages 16 and up (Warehouse, Food Storage). Direct Engagement opportunities require a background check and enable volunteers to engage with our guests after training.
Hospitals and Medical Facilities in Columbus
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital: Teen, college student, and adult volunteer opportunities
- OhioHealth Hospitals: Riverside Methodist, Grant Medical Center, Doctors Hospital, Dublin Methodist, and more. Opportunities for teens, college students, and adults.
- Ohio State University Wexner Medial Center: College and adult volunteer opportunities
- The James: College and adult volunteers
- Mount Carmel: Ages 16 and up
Ronald McDonald House: (711 E Livingston Ave) Houses families who have a child being treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Volunteers under age 18 must have an adult with them at the RMH. Many volunteer opportunities are available.
- Special event volunteers – Raise awareness and/or volunteer on behalf of the RMH at community events (examples include Columbus Auto Show and Cap City Half Marathon.
- Housewarming Volunteer – variety of duties to provide an at-home environment. Commitment of 4 hours per month required.
- Meal Volunteers – Group opportunity of 2-15 people; prepare and serve a meal at RMH. Food prep and cooking must be done on site. Plan to serve 100-150 people. Meal ideas are provided, and you can even work with Team Cuisine and the house Chef who will purchase the food, and provide the recipes and cookware – just show up and cook (cost associated with this method)
- Baking Volunteers – Up to 12 people can sign up to bake homemade goodies in the kitchen during specific times.
- At home volunteer options: Great opportunity for young kids to help! Make and drop off welcome blankets or pack and drop off snack packs.
- Wishlist – The RMH wishlist contains regular household items, cleaning products, and more.
Nursing Homes: Most nursing homes welcome volunteers of all ages to visit with residents, participate in activities, and more. Contact directly to find out what opportunities exists. Residents in nursing homes LOVE children, so it’s a great way to get kids involved.
Volunteer in Columbus with Pets
Colony Cats (2740 Festival Lane, Dublin) Ages 15+ (parents must attend during initial visit for under 18). Opportunities exist for animal care, office assistant, distributing food, adoption center, assistance with fundraising, Kit & Kaboodle Boutique, and more.
Cozy Cat Cottage: (62 Village Pointe Drive, Powell) Ages 13+ Animal care, socializing with cats, and other needs at the adoption center.
Ohio Wildlife Center (6131 Cook Rd. Powell and 2661 Billingsley Rd. Columbus) Seeking volunteers ages 18+ who plan to work on a continuous basis, as training and background checks are required. Seeds of Awareness, Respect and Stewardship (SOARS) Volunteers are teens, ages 15 to 17, assist education staff with summer wildlife day camp activities, camper supervision and the animal husbandry duties associated with camp activities. Must commit to working up to 2 weeks during the summer, and be available for an entire week-long camp.
CHA Animal Shelter (3765 Corporate Drive). Seeking volunteers for animal care and socializing, shelter upkeep and maintenance, assist people with adoptions, fundraising, and clerical work. Volunteers must be 14+ (with parent), or 16+ without parent supervision.
Nature and Outdoor Volunteering in Columbus
Habitat for Humanity: Volunteers of any skill level are welcome to join a worksite crew for building homes, deconstruction, and home repair. Shifts are available during the day, evening, and weekends. Volunteers can start at age 16, but a supervising adult must be present with youth. Plenty of shifts are available, and you can sign up online for your shifts once you are an volunteer.
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks: If you love nature and the outdoors, join the team of volunteers who contribute their time, energy and talents toward the preservation and enjoyment of natural areas and parks for millions of Central Ohio visitors. Work schedules are flexible and depend on your chosen assignment and park. No previous training or experience is needed; training programs are provided.
Volunteer at Attractions in Columbus
COSI: 333 West Broad Street
- COSI’s Adult Volunteer Experience is a unique opportunity for individuals to help further COSI’s mission by serving our guests and providing a unique science learning experience while meeting people and exploring new interests.
- COSI’s mentor-led Career Ladder volunteer program allows youth aged 12-18 to develop 21st Century Skills, acting as full members of the COSI team and interacting with COSI guests
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Seeking adult volunteers to work in the animal contact areas to interact and educate guests. Volunteers are asked to commit to 55 hours a year. If you are interested in volunteering in 2021, please complete the adult volunteer application.
Volunteer in Columbus with Kids
Miracle League of Central Ohio: (Darree Fields Park on Cosgray Road in Dublin, Ohio). Special needs baseball league needs volunteers for many different positions during Saturday games, from buddy (age 10 and up to be paired up with players), field helpers, announcers, assistant coaches, and more.
Check with your local schools and libraries for volunteer opportunities, as many are in constant need of volunteers. From homework help to classroom assistance, there are plenty of opportunities for helping children with their education.
Homeless Families Foundation: Aims to break the cycle of homelessness by stabilizing the family and educating children. Volunteer opportunities range from working directly with kids via tutoring and mentoring, to class room and grounds cleanup and organizing the pantry and sorting food. There are volunteer opportunities for ages 11 and up. Working directly with the kids requires a minimum 1 hour commitment per week, other opportunities can be one time only.
Encompass Adoptees: This local nonprofit serves those in the adoption, foster, and kinship care community. They are looking for volunteers for the youth support group and mentor program when in starts up again in September. Activities will focus around various artistic opportunities, conversations, and games; all with a general goal of supporting friendships, communication, resiliency, and positive identity formation for youth. Volunteer positions include teachers or those with special talents, skills, or hobbies to teach a class just once, a short series just once, or one class every so often. Internship positions, business/marketing volunteers, junior internships, and volunteers with lived adoption &/or foster care experiences are also avil
Best volunteer options for Teens
COSI: COSI’s mentor-led Career Ladder volunteer program allows youth aged 12-18 to develop 21st Century Skills, acting as full members of the COSI team and interacting with COSI guests
Miracle League of Central Ohio: (Darree Fields Park on Cosgray Road in Dublin, Ohio). Special needs baseball league needs volunteers during Saturday games, from buddy. Kids and teens ages 10 and up can be paired up with players to help them hit the ball, run the bases, and field as necessary.
Flying Horse Farm: (5260 State Route 95, Mt. Gilead) Flying Horse Farms provides magical, transformative camp experiences for children with serious illnesses and their families–free of charge. Camp volunteer opportunities for ages 16+ range from camp and activity counselors, kitchen volunteers, cleaning and camp prep, maintenance, and more.
Event and Festival Volunteering
Most events require tons of volunteers before, during, and after the events. Most volunteers are rewarded with free or reduced admission, special gifts, and more. Shifts are usually short so that you may enjoy the festival or activities before or during your shift. It’s a great way to get involved with a cause you believe in, or take part in a event that is outside of your budget. Below are a few popular volunteer choices.
- The Memorial Tournament
- Races: 5k, 1/2 marathon, marathons