50+ ways to give back in Columbia, SC

Columbia skyline | Photo via @mrusinyak

It’s officially thankful season, and while many folks are passionate about giving back to the city that has given them so much, it’s often hard to decide what exactly they want to participate in – given the hundreds of opportunities in Columbia. Well, why not start by using what you love to help others?

We’ve made it easy to turn your passions into a gift to others by putting together this volunteer guide catered to specific interests. From artists to those passionate about Columbia’s minority groups, we’ve rounded up opportunities for everyone.

🦃 If the holidays are your favorite time of the year

Help feed families during the holidays with Harvest Hope by volunteering for the crisis pantry or organizing a food drive 

Volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner at Transitions Homeless Center

○ Adopt a family through Families Helping Families  

Participate in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program or signup to spread some holiday cheer here 

Epworth Children’s Home is hosting its Christmas drop off from Dec. 7-11, find out more here

🇺🇲 Supporting Veterans today + everyday 

Volunteer with South Carolina USO – the Columbia Metropolitan Airport location has limited opportunities available due to COVID-19 

The American Legion South Carolina Division of Veteran Affairs has a 24-hour crisis hotline and accepts donations to support veterans locally

Hidden Wounds is a volunteer-run organization to provide resources to local families. Find out how to get involved here

Donate items for a military package to the Midlands Blue Star Mothers, an organization made primarily of mothers of military members

Help connect a service dog to veterans + first responders with Rob’s Best Friend Fund at PAALS


🍎 Natural-born teachers + mentors

Empower students to reach their full potential through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia

○ Sign up to coach a team or volunteer with Girls on the Run Columbia 

○ Sign up to mentor with Big Homie Lil Homie 

💙 If you want to be there for abuse victims

Help children feel safe + comfortable while at Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center. If you can’t find a time, check out this wish list of items

Volunteer as a crisis hotline worker for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands

Participate in a community training event, volunteer or support Sister Care with items from their urgent needs wish list

♿ If you have a passion for disabled community members

Sign up to coach or volunteer with Special Olympics of SC

Volunteers opportunities are limited to support families with Family Connection South Carolina but donations can be made here

Support the programs + services at United Cerebral Palsy of SC 

🏠 If you want to stay in your home

Contact a local assisted living facility to ask about becoming a pen pal with a resident

○ Donate airline miles (+ other gifts) to children participating in South Carolina’s Make-A-Wish program

American Red Cross is in need of volunteers and has virtual options you can apply for here

○ Give to your favorite local charity or nonprofit virtually

💚 Advocates of mental illness + health awareness

Join in the local support with National Alliance on Mental Illness 

Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc. offers committee opportunities to find the best fit for you to give back

Find out ways to get involved with the LRADAC training and education center here or donate here

🗓️ If you’re on a tight schedule 

Choose a time to donate blood through The Blood Connection

Drop off donation items, such as coats, warm socks, hats + non-perishable food items to Oliver Gospel 

🎨 The artists

Support the one that supports them all. One Columbia is working to amplify + advocate for local artists

○ Instill the love + appreciation of art in others by joining the Columbia Museum of Art’s volunteer team

  Sign up to volunteer with the newly rebranded Tapps Outpost 

😷 If you’re interested in healthcare

○ Collect pop-tops or drop off wish list donations for families who are staying at their home away from home at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Columbia 

Sign up for an upcoming volunteer opportunity or donate to support Camp Cole as it prepares to open its new facility

🐶 Animal lovers

Check out these wild volunteer opportunities with the Riverbanks Zoo 

Help shelter animals feel loved through City of Columbia’s Animal Services, Animal Mission of the Midlands, PawmettoLifeline or PetsInc

🌳 The outdoorsy types

Participate in river sweeps through Congaree Riverkeeper 

Lend a hand to pack food boxes or coordinate deliveries with Foodshare South Carolina

Help keep our roads clean by participating in the next Adopt-a-Highway pickup with Keep the Midlands Beautiful, which is scheduled for Nov. 21

🏳️‍🌈 If you’re passionate about supporting local minority groups

Senior Resources is looking for volunteers for Meals on Wheels

Volunteer or donate to support the Columbia Urban League 

Participate in community outreach for Columbia’s LGBTQIA+ youth through the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center  

Sign up with United Way of the Midlands YLS at the Inclement Weather Center 

🌴If you live + breathe Columbia 

Volunteer during various events hosted by Historic Columbia 

Support the Feed an Officer Campaign on Dec. 14 with Serve & Connect 

📚Self-proclaimed bibliophiles

Donate your time + talents to one of the 13 Richland Library locations 

○ Donate gently used books to this list of organizations 

Participate in literacy programs through the Midlands Reading Consortium 

🦋 The social butterflies

Join a volunteer organization like Junior League of Columbia

Serve South Carolina’s nonprofit community by participating in SC Togethers Advocacy Allies 

🔨 The handymen + women

○ Build homes for the community through Habitat for Humanity


Don’t see anything that fits your interests? Check out VolunteerMatch – a resource that helps you find local volunteer opportunities suited to your preferences.