Hey Bull City! As summer ends, I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the Bull City as much as I have. In my world, sometimes it feels like I don’t engage with Durham and the surrounding area as much as I should (graduate school can keep you in a bubble).

To fight that situation a bit, I chose to get more involved in Durham in any way I could. This took the form of helping coordinate Duke’s Graduate Campout for season tickets to the Men’s basketball home games. As a result, I’ve met some of Durham’s finest leaders in the community. (Note: Sadly, the event was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence)

I’ve decided to compile a list of 25 organizations (albeit not fully extensive) to give you a starting place. If you find yourself looking to give back and you just aren’t sure where to begin, hopefully this list comes to mind!

durham nc volunteer give back opportunities

Mountains to Sea Trail


Betsy Brown from the Mountains to Sea Trail has been a great contact for me in organizing a project (bbrown@mountainstoseatrail.org). Natural erosion of the banks of the Eno River have created a need for some trail re-routing. If you are planning to volunteer, it would be best to dress appropriately while bringing gloves and water.



Eartheal is based on a 4-acre site co-located with the Executive Director’s private home next to the Korstian Division of Duke Forest off Mt. Sinai Rd. Typical projects would involve clearing and upgrading trails and outdoor classrooms (raking, spreading gravel, etc.). Other projects include some possible light carpentry and/or sign making. In terms of contact information, Jane (jane@eartheal.org) is the best person to reach out to.



Even though we were unable to coordinate a project for our September 15th service day, this organization would be great to work with. On their website, SEEDS describe themselves as a non-profit garden school in Durham, North Carolina, that develops the capacity of young people through growing, cooking, and sharing food. They were quick to reply when we reached out using info@seedsnc.org.

Durham Public/Private Schools


What better way to give back than to offer some help to our local schools? We reached out to a few in the area (EK Powe Elementary, Creekside Elementary, and Immaculata Catholic School, Bethesda Elementary to name some), and we are looking forward to helping them with outdoor maintenance and some creative painting projects. In terms of contact info, we simply made calls to the main offices of the schools to coordinate these projects.

Animal Protection Society


APS typically offers on-site volunteer opportunities in the shelter Monday to Friday. Saturday is their busiest in terms of visitors, and they do a fantastic job with community outreach and education on behalf of the animals. Annika Hugosson (annika.hugosson@apsofdurham.org) was a great contact for us although we could not go to APS on September 15th.

Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) Global


All of the volunteer opportunities for GCF Global are based at 4902 Chin Page Rd. Durham, NC 27703. GCF Global also requests a 24-hour heads up before you volunteer with them. Typically, volunteers at GCF assist with seeding, planting, cultivating and harvesting. They donate the produce to the Eastern/Central Food Bank and other nonprofits. They also have a wide variety of indoor projects which range from jewelry processing to electronic recycling to school kit building. A great contact for this organization is Huong Hornshuh (hhornshuh@goodwillenc.org).

Briggs Community Garden


This organization is another great one in terms of using community gardening as both a tool of empowerment and education. Hands-on activities are created for adults and children alike to help the garden flourish. A great contact for this organization is Cheralyn M. Schmidt (cschmidt@dconc.gov).

Food Bank of Central NC


According to their website, the Durham branch serves 6 local counties. Last year, the Durham branch set a personal record of distributing more than 9.1 million pounds of food to 211 partner agencies. A great contact for this organization is Jesslyn Hill (jhill@foodbankcenc.org).

Housing for New Hope


Housing for New Hope’s mission is “to prevent and end homelessness through the provision of housing, healthcare, and integrated services”. We exchanged some emails with info@housingfornewhope.org and also spoke on the phone with members of Housing for New Hope at (919) 489-6282.

Durham Rescue Mission


Although we had a tough scheduling window on our end and could not work things out for a Durham Rescue Mission, this organization does amazing work for the greater Durham community. You can bring/serve a meal, volunteer at the thrift store, take part in landscape activities, help out as a tutor, and offer work during their quarterly collections/drives. For any volunteer requests, you can reach out to the Durham Rescue Mission at Volunteer@DurhamRescueMission.org or (919) 688-9641.

Scrap Exchange


According to their website, the Scrap Exchange’s mission is “to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse”. We reached out to them for a bigger group opportunity, and they also welcome individual volunteers. They proudly represent Durham’s ability to reuse and minimize wasting of resources. For our group event, we spoke with Cappye Mott by originally reaching out to volunteer@scrapexchange.org.

Triangle Land Conservancy


The Triangle Land Conservancy aims to initiate collaboration and a sense of community through land protection and safeguarding of natural habitats. Their typical projects are geared toward outdoor work, and they seek people for a variety of projects in terms of trail maintenance and educational outreach. However, they also take volunteers that help out in the office. A great contact for this organization is Margaret Sands at msands@triangleland.org.

Durham Center for Senior Life


The Durham Center for Senior Life offers a wide variety of services and programs for older adults. Their mission is to “enhance the lives of older adults through education, recreation, nutrition and social services in welcoming community settings. Our group reached out about organizing a project that helped out DCSL with administrative tasks. A great contact for this organization is Janae Brown at Janae.Brown@dcslnc.org.



ReStore focuses on selling gently used household goods, furniture, and construction materials in order to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Durham. A great contact for this organization is Shonkia Harrison at shonkia.harrison@habitatwake.org.

The Salvation Army


The Salvation Army engages in numerous community activities that are easy to get involved with. They offer a Free Food Friday each week that requires the help of volunteers, and they also operate a family thrift store that allows families to purchase affordable, good quality clothing. A great contact for this organization is Katherine Bellamy at Katherine.Bellamy@uss.salvationarmy.org.

East Durham Children’s Initiative


East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) sets out to help children in East Durham from birth all the way through high school graduation. Our group coordinated a fall Community Cleanup Day with EDCI LEAP Academy Preschool families, but there are many ways to get involved with this organization. A great contact for us was Rebecca Billings at rebecca.billings@edci.org.

StepUp Durham


StepUp Durham seeks to provide life skills training and help with obtaining employment opportunities for people looking to develop stable careers. Our group arranged to help out with putting together employment manuals and organizing their men’s closet for donations. A great contact for us has been Tim Wollin at tim.wollin@stepupministry.org, and their volunteer coordinator Pauline (pauline.robinson@stepupministry.org) would also be a good person to reach out to.

Ronald McDonald House of Durham


The Ronald McDonald House of Durham encourages both individuals and group to come out and support for the wide variety of services that they offer. Our group arranged to cook a meal, but they also accept volunteers for in-hospital opportunities, wish list donations, and many of their activities for children. A great contact for us was Clay Ragan at clay@rmhdurhamwake.org.

United Way


In the local area, United Way works on issues such as homelessness, hunger, education, and career readiness. According to their website, United Way of the Greater Triangle has invested more than $30 million over the last three years in local agencies. A great contact for this organization is Emily Page at epage@unitedwaytriangle.org.

Durham Central Park


Durham Central Park offers monthly cleanup days for path and garden maintenance. They also look for volunteers for the Food Truck Rodeos and can accommodate large group volunteering events. To get in contact with this organization, it is best to call (919) 794-8194 or send an email to info@durhamcentralpark.org.

Durham Habitat for Humanity


If you are a big fan of construction projects and hands-on volunteering, Durham Habitat for Humanity is a great organization for you. They do an excellent job of fostering a safe work environment while building camaraderie and success for the projects they undertake. A great contact for this organization is Laine Staton, who can be contacted by calling (919) 682-0516 or sending an email to lstaton@durhamhabitat.org.



TROSA operates a thrift and donation store in order to help support their long-term residential substance abuse recovery center. Everything sold at the store goes directly to helping the 500 residents that TROSA serves. We coordinated an opportunity to sort and process donations at the thrift store for our volunteer work. A great contact for this organization is Elisha McLawhorn at emclawhorn@trosainc.org.

Sandy Creek Park


Sandy Creek Park is located on a former wastewater treatment site. The park has been transformed from a sewage treatment area to a place of refuge for wildlife. The park can accommodate large groups for volunteering events. The easiest way to help volunteer is to fill out the form at http://www.sandycreekparkdurhamnc.com/contact-page.html.

Veterans at Maple Court


Maple Court does a great job serving homeless veterans in our local community by helping with the transition from homelessness to a home. Groups can aid with providing meals or even a game night for the veterans. Shaina Gaines is a great contact for this organization (sgaines@voacarolinas.org).

Urban Ministries of Durham


Urban Ministries of Durham aims to end homelessness in our local community by helping neighbors overcome unemployment, medical problems, mental health problems, and addiction. This organization does fantastic work in providing case management and emergency shelter. A great contact for this organization is Gin Jackson at gjackson@umdurham.org.

This list was updated October 2018. Know an organization that should be on here? Contact us and we’ll get it added!

Will Koshut
Author: Will Koshut

Will is originally from Pittsburgh, PA. He came to Durham in the summer of 2017, and he is currently a second year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke. In his free time, he enjoys photography, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Duke sports, and going for a run.