Here's How to Volunteer in Atlanta Right Now
From helping local food banks to supporting LGBTQ youth, these are the best ways to make a difference in Atlanta—for National Volunteer Month and beyond.
Ubuntu is an African philosophy that is often understood to mean “I am because we are,” and that outlook on unity and humanity is something that all of us in Atlanta can likely relate to. The last few years have been exceptionally difficult for many Atlantans, but throughout all of those hard times, our city has repeatedly shown incredible solidarity. While it is truly impressive that we can come together in dire circumstances, it is just as crucial for us to unite on a regular basis to uplift our city and help our fellow Atlantans whenever possible. That sentiment especially rings true right now, as we celebrate National Volunteer Month. If every single one of us actively works to make Atlanta a better place, we can really make a difference in our city, so use this guide as your inspiration to get out there and do some community service.
Now that you’re pumped up and ready to give back, the only thing you need is a volunteer project. If you have a specific interest, you can check out online platforms like Hands on Atlanta and VolunteerMatch, which are great resources for finding ways to help out around the city—ITP and OTP. However, in case you find those databases a bit overwhelming, we’ve got you covered. Here are 25 different ways that you can make a difference in Atlanta for National Volunteer Month and beyond.
One of the most rewarding community service projects that you can take part in is fighting against hunger, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank has several opportunities for volunteers to join the cause. Individuals can sign up to work a morning or afternoon warehouse shift at the food bank’s Hunger Action Center, where they will be sorting and packing recently donated food, repackaging produce or grains for families, or boxing non-perishable items for seniors across Atlanta. Just be aware that proof of vaccination is required upon arrival before you start your volunteer shift.
In addition to all of the traditional service opportunities that Atlanta has to offer, there are also plenty of fun, arts-based ways to give back to your community. If you’re interested in participating in a unique and hands-on service project, sign up to volunteer at Paint Love, a Decatur-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth facing poverty and trauma through arts programming and other creative projects. Those interested in assisting the students or helping with planning and logistics can apply to volunteer right now.
HOPE Atlanta is one of the city’s most well-known agencies that’s dedicated to fighting homeless, and you can help assist in their hunger relief and housing operations by signing up to volunteer. Meal packing sessions take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 am to noon, and volunteers can also work as servers at the community kitchens from 10 am to 12:30 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. And for those who are working with a tighter schedule, you can even help out on your own time by volunteering from home.
Earth Day just so happens to fall within National Volunteer Month, making now the perfect time for Atlantans to familiarize themselves with environment-conscious nonprofit Trees Atlanta. On Saturdays from 9 am to noon, Trees Atlanta takes on service projects in different communities across the city, and volunteers are welcome to plant trees, care for trees, participate in forest restoration projects, and much more. Plus, Trees Atlanta has its own charity gala, so after you serve on one of the volunteer days, you can also attend the Root Ball and continue to support the organization’s environmental efforts.
On March 16, 2022, the city mourned the one-year anniversary of the tragic Atlanta spa shootings that resulted in the deaths of eight people—including six Asian women massage workers—across three Metro Atlanta area spas. In light of the anniversary, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta called for Atlantans to once again show solidarity with the city’s Asian-American community by reflecting on the victims and survivors of the tragedy, addressing white supremacy and misogyny, and embracing all of Atlanta’s diverse communities. After digitally signing the March 16 call to action, you can also support Advancing Justice Atlanta by making a donation or signing up to serve as a volunteer.
Our House is a shelter that aims to end the cycle of homelessness for families in Atlanta and Decatur, and if that service focus is something that you’re passionate about, there are several ways for you to get involved. Behind the scenes, you can help sort and organize donations or sponsor Welcome Home kits for newly housed families, and if you want to interact more closely with families at Our House, you can also work as a classroom assistant. You can even rally your family, co-workers, or friends together to provide, prepare, and serve a breakfast or dinner for families at the shelter, which will undoubtedly be an enriching experience for everyone involved.
Everyone deserves to have a safe place where they can fully be themselves, and that’s why Southern Fried Queer Pride’s latest initiative aims to create the CLUTCH Community Center, a space for Atlanta’s Black Queer community. SFQP is currently checking out spaces that are large enough to house workshops, artist studios, performance venues, community meetings, a community garden, and more, so help the CLUTCH Community Center come one step closer to being fully realized by donating to SFQP this holiday season.
The financial hardships from the pandemic have made communities in food deserts, like the Westside one that PAWKids serves, suffer even more this year. The Killer Mike-backed and LaTonya Johnston-led nonprofit enrichment program services residents of Grove Park with basic food supplies, toiletries, and hygiene products. To contribute to PAWKids’ cause remotely, you can donate money, gift cards, snacks, pre-cooked meals, and other much-needed household items.
Gentrification and affordable housing were already major concerns for BIPOC Atlantans, and then the pandemic rolled around and brought an even bigger threat to secure housing. Just as it has done in years past, Habitat for Humanity continues to fight displacement by responsibly revitalizing neighborhoods. The life-changing organization has adapted to the pandemic by allowing a limited number of vaccinated individuals to register as volunteers, so be sure to check out all the ways that you can help displaced Atlantans as well as new homeowners on Habitat for Humanity’s website.
Many seniors are unable to drive, so they look to their family and friends for transportation to the doctor’s office, the grocery store, and everywhere in between. With I CARE, safe and friendly drivers can volunteer the time, car, and gas to offer DeKalb County seniors free rides to their medical appointments. When volunteering with seniors, it’s incredibly important that you don’t put them at risk of catching COVID-19, so be sure to mask up and social distance even when you’re not volunteering. If you’re unable to safely serve as a driver, I CARE takes donations as well.
Throughout the city, you’ve probably seen one of Play Me Again Pianos’ colorful neighborhood installations that reflect Atlanta’s rich music scene. The public pianos, which are free for anyone to play, capture the city’s creative spirit, but they still need TLC every once in a while. You can volunteer as a painter or a piano steward to help maintain one of those beautiful creations, and if you’d rather financially assist Play Me Again Pianos, they are accepting donations in the form of studio-size vertical pianos and money to go towards the repairs and tuning.
Or a jog. Or a walk. Your speed doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Back on My Feet needs volunteers to help support homeless people striving for independence. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, people battling homelessness and addiction gather for a run in an effort to set and work towards goals, strengthen physical and mental health, and build community. Volunteers can commit to running at least once a week or contribute in other ways like fundraising, sponsoring events, or serving as a career coach.
Lost-N-Found Youth is an organization that has pledged to end homelessness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and all sexual minority youth. In addition to offering crisis support and transitional housing, LNFY operates a thrift store in which proceeds help fund their outreach efforts. All that is required of you to volunteer is that you sign a liability waiver form, and then you’ll be ready to pitch in at the thrift store. For a more socially distanced method of support, you can also donate to LNFY through its website, which will help fund shelter, clothing, and food for homeless LGBTQ+ youth seeking refuge there.
The new soccer fields at the East Point, Lindbergh, West End, and Five Points MARTA stations aren’t just cool hangout spots. When you pay to play a game of pick-up or compete in the adult leagues, you’re actively contributing to Soccer in the Streets’ community betterment programs. Your fee helps kids play in urban soccer programs and funds the development of SITS’s expansion to MARTA stations across the city.
After making work and travel arrangements, the last experience anyone wants to have on election day is arriving at the polls and being informed that you’re ineligible to cast a ballot, but it can happen for a variety of reasons, some as simple as not possessing an accepted photo ID. Spread the Vote is dedicated to removing that obstacle from voting, and volunteers can help by doing tasks like providing transportation to the DMV or ordering birth certificates. With the upcoming governor’s race in November, this year is a crucial election year, so help make voting as simple as possible in 2022 and beyond.
Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) is a Tucker-based organization whose goal is to give people with disabilities the health care equipment they need at little to no cost. If you have new or gently used medical equipment like walkers, wheelchairs, or hospital beds, you can donate them to FODAC to be refurbished and distributed to those in need. Even if you don’t have any medical equipment on-hand, you can also help FODAC by donating new and gently used furniture, computers, clothing, household goods, jewelry, books, music, and more to the FODAC Community Thrift Store.
Although many people have fond childhood memories of riding a bike through their neighborhood, many kids today don’t have the privilege of owning one. Enter Free Bikes 4 Kidz ATL, a nonprofit whose sole purpose is to clean and refurbish used bikes and then donate them to kids in need. FB4K’s big Bike Giveaway season takes place later in the year around the holidays, but there are still several ways for you to help the organization in the meantime. For starters, you can donate a bike or send a straight-up financial donation to FB4K, and you can also team up with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to collect bike donations within your community. If you don’t have a bike or enough money to spare, you can go ahead and sign up to volunteer for FB4K later this year.
Organizations like Wellspring Living are working hard to counter sex trafficking in Atlanta. Wellspring Living aims to offer transformative care for people who have been victimized by sexual exploitation, and you can assist them by serving as a participant volunteer who interacts directly with program participants or as a retail volunteer who helps out at one of their upscale resale stores. There are also opportunities to work on Group Serve Days, assemble care packages and special gift boxes, and much more, so make sure you check out all of the volunteer opportunities that Wellspring Living has to offer.
Piedmont Park, Midtown’s sprawling green space, is one of the most gorgeous public places in the city. The park was Atlanta’s certified go-to for escaping the confines of quarantine in 2020, and since then, it has been great to see in-person festivals and events gradually return to the park. To help preserve the beauty of Piedmont Park, volunteers can assist in the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s biweekly “Pick Up and Pitch In” clean-up sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 11 am. You can also contribute to the park’s preservation by joining the Green Heart Club, a monthly donor subscription that directly supports the Piedmont Park Conservancy.
Pajama Program promotes wholesome bedtime routines for children that help them flourish during the day, and their undertaking involves donating new pajama sets and books as well as caregiver resources to parents. You can help gather those materials by hosting a pajamas and book drive, or you can dedicate your time to providing virtual readings for kids —just fill out the volunteer application first.
International calls can get expensive, and not even our military can avoid steep charges. That harsh reality inspired Brittany and Robbie Bergquist to start Cell Phones For Soldiers, a nonprofit that helps those serving in the military communicate with their loved ones without breaking the bank. You can help by recycling cell phones, both new and used, at the nearest drop-off location or by donating money for calling cards.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights sits right beside the World of Coca-Cola, and since its opening in 2007, it has given tourists and Atlanta natives alike a better understanding of civil rights struggles in America and around the world. If you’re passionate about civil rights, consider volunteering as a tour guide at the museum or request permission to hold your next rally or march outside the Center.
About an hour outside of Atlanta is the Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt University, which tells the story of early Appalachian settlers and Southeastern Native Americans through education and exhibitions of art and artifacts. You can, of course, visit and donate to the center but there are also volunteer opportunities for people who would like to docent, help with administrative work, or even assist with maintaining the Lou Reeta Barton Northcutt Walking Trail and Native Garden.
SafeRide America recognizes the need to keep impaired drivers off the road, whether that concerns drunk drivers or drivers with temporary disabilities, and they have created a system that gets them and their vehicles home safely. Monetary donations allow SafeRide to offer rides to impaired drivers who can’t afford travel fare, making the roads a little safer over one of the busiest times of the year. Life since the pandemic has already been heartbreaking enough—your contribution can help prevent families from enduring yet another devastating tragedy this year.
CHaRM, also known as the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, is a facility on Hill Street that provides a one-stop-shop for people looking to discard their waste in a mindful fashion. Whether you’re trying to get rid of an old mattress or the half-full paint cans in your garage, CHaRM is the place to go, but be sure to check the center’s website to know what you can and can’t bring. Those interested in recycling at the Hill Street facility can stop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 2 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm, but you must make an appointment online in advance. And if you’re interested in volunteering for CHaRM, you can sign up for volunteer opportunities here.