There are so many opportunities to volunteer in Columbia! Volunteering can be a worthwhile experience on so many levels—and it is a way to make a difference for free!

Benefits can include:

  • Support a cause or program that helps others
  • Support a cause or program that helps you
  • Meet new people
  • Build job skills
  • Explore new careers
  • Explore personal growth
  • Stay active after retirement
  • Spend quality time with your family
  • Sometimes get free access to part or all of the activity or event
  • Participate in something fun!

In addition to supporting nonprofit organizations, there are many local festivals and fairs, including Columbia Eve Fest, True/False Film Fest, Earth Day Festival, Art in the Park, and Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival.

If you find that any of the below information is outdated, or have a new resource, send the details to us at [email protected] so we can update this page. Thank you for using FreeColumbiaMo.com!

Birding Trips—Boone’s Lick Master Naturalists (Columbia Chapter)
Location: Meet at the southwest corner of Parkade Center parking lot, Parkade Center, 601 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia MO 65203; destination varies
Schedule: Wed, 7:30 am-4 pm
Info/RSVP: Bill Clark, 573-474-4510
CACHE/SPARKS Birding Trips are sponsored by Columbia Audubon Society and Missouri Department of Conservation and led by Bill Clark, former president of The Columbia Audubon Society. Group leaves at 7:30am – be on time! Destination is decided on the day of the trip. Call Bill Clark at 573-474-4510 to confirm you are attending or to get more information.
The Missouri Master Naturalist™ program is a community-based natural resource education and volunteer service program for adults, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri Extension. The mission is to engage Missourians in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources through science-based education and volunteer community service. Missouri Master Naturalist volunteers support conservation efforts and natural resource education in their local communities.

Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center
Location: 4895 E Highway 163, Columbia MO 65201-9284
Schedule:

  • Wed 3-5 pm or 5-7 pm
  • Thu 1:30-4 pm or 4:30-6:30 pm
  • Fri 4:30-6:30 pm (people with horse experience preferred on this day)
  • Sat 9:30-11:30 am

Info: 573-875-8556
https://www.facebook.com/groups/cedarcreeksupport/members/
This is a nonprofit organization that serves children and adults with special needs. Riders gain confidence, increase their strength and flexibility, and have a great experience, helping them grow mentally, physically, and emotionally. Volunteers are critical to the success of the program and its riders! You do not need horse experience to help. We need people to walk alongside the horse and assist riders with balance as well as more experienced people to lead horses. Volunteers commit to a 2-hour shift for an 8-week session. Not only is it a lot of fun, it is rewarding and looks great on your resume!

Citizen Jane Film Festival
http://citizenjanefilmfestival.org/volunteer/
October 22-25, 2015 (annually in October)
A community festival. Volunteer benefits (work at least 12 hours to qualify) include

  • a pass granting access to any film while not on shift (if seats are available)
  • invitation to a party specifically for volunteers after the festival
  • free t-shirt

Some examples of festival jobs:

  • Airport Drivers
  • Box Office Team
  • Filmmaker Liaison
  • Merchandise Sales
  • Venue Operations Volunteer
  • Venue Designer

City of Columbia
http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/volunteer/

Volunteer Programs
City Hall, 701 E Broadway, 5th floor (in Community Development)
573-874-7499
[email protected]
Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm
Because we have a small staff we recommend calling before you make a trip to our office.

Apply
Print Application (mail PO Box 6015, Columbia MO  65205-6015)
Online Application

Volunteer opportunities exist in every department and together we’ll find the right one for you.

Office of Neighborhood Services ~ Volunteer Programs
Community Development Department
City of Columbia
PO Box 6015
Grissum Building – 1313 Lakeview
Columbia MO  65205

Some opportunities:

  • The Bear Creek Run half marathon will be held Saturday, October 17 starting and ending at Albert Oakland Park.  We have a special need for adult volunteers to help with key points along the route from 7:30 a.m. to noon.
  • Litter pick up events area a great way to make our community look great!  Join leader Pat Cahalin.  Pickups are scheduled for:  Wednesday, October 21 – Cosmo Bethel Park – 4 p.m.
    Thursday, October 22 – Blue Ridge Road (between Rangeline & Garth) – 5 p.m.
    Saturday, October 24 – East Campus – meet at Wilson & Lee – 10 a.m.
  • Household Hazardous Waste collections are coming up Oct. 17, Nov. 7 and Nov. 21, 8 a.m. to noon at the Grissum Building, 1313 Lakeview.  Volunteers are needed to help greet the public and stir paint; shifts are 8-10 a.m. and 10 a.m. to noon.
  • Training for new Park Patrol volunteers will be Wednesday, October 28, 5:30-7 p.m. at City Hall, 701 E. Broadway.  Pre-registration is encouraged!
  • The Hinkson Clean Sweep has been postponed until Saturday, Oct. 17.  To participate, meet at Capen Park at 10 a.m.
  • Starting September 1st-Blue Thunder Track Club is looking for volunteer assistant coaches to assist with cross country. Coaches will guide and instruct young men and women in their pursuit of mastering their craft. Normal practices are Tues, Thurs (6-7:30 p.m.) & Saturdays (10-11 a.m)-approximately 4 to 5 hours a week. Cross Country Meets are held on Saturdays and Sundays. Please contact Camren Cross at [email protected] or Stephanie King at [email protected] if you are interested in helping out.
  • SPOOKtacular will be held on Halloween Night, Saturday, October 31, 5-7 p.m. at Cosmo Park.  Groups are needed to host games and activities for kids 6th grade and younger.  Groups can register here.  Individual volunteers are also needed and can email us to get involved at [email protected]
  • CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is scheduled for October 15-18. Assist the Columbia Fire Department at special events and help our community prepare for emergencies and disasters by being a CERT volunteer. To learn more email [email protected]
  • Do you have happy feet? Find out about volunteer opportunities that need the help of those skilled in dance, cheer and jump rope!
    • Dance instruction assistants for the Sho-Me Sho-Stoppers Hip Hop Dance Club. Find out more!
    • Volunteers are needed to help with the Lil Lady Bulldogs Cheer & Dance Grou
    • Leaders are needed for the Double Dutch Jump Roping team
    • Flag Line Instructor, no need to be an expert, just be passionate about keeping kids positive and involved; training materials available!
    • Anyone looking to share dance skills in tap or jazz? We’d like to create a new class or two at the Armory for summer…speak with Mary Dewey at 573-817-5077 for more info.
  • The City’s Volunteer Program and the Public Works Stormwater Education Program are partnering on a volunteer program to allow residents to adopt a rain garden.
  • Student/Internship projects: We have a variety of semester (or longer!) projects ideal for students including sidewalk snow removal and recycling education. Contact us to learn more!
  • Columbia Parks & Recreation Community Recreation Program has several volunteer opportunities including:
    • We are looking for piano instructors!
    • Spanish Instructors: Share your skills in the Spanish language with children and/or adults – 3 program choices available, great opportunity to change someone’s life! E-mail Mary Dewey to volunteer or call 817-5077. This activity will continue again in the fall.eded for 5-11 year olds and/or age 12 & up. You do not have to be an expert, just willing to teach (instructional materials are provided) and confident. 12 Thursday evening sessions beginning January 24, 2013, 6:15pm til 7:15pm for the younger students and 7:30pm til 8:30pm for 12 & up.
    • Share YOUR special skill through Community Recreation! If you have a talent or passion that you’d like to share with kids, teens, adults or seniors/boomers but don’t see it listed here, let us know! Contact us to share your idea.
  • Getabout Columbia a project of Columbia Parks & Recreation has opportunities for Trail Ride Leaders and Education Campaign Assistants. Read more!
  • Board & Commission Openings – There are many great ways to serve our City!
  • Special Olympics – Positions are limited and filled weeks in advance so don’t wait to sign up. Must commit to the entire season and have a Class A application form on file.
  • There are many special events coming up that need the help of volunteers! Visit our web calendar to learn more.
  • Keep Embracing Youth (K.E.Y.) Lock-ins –Volunteers will assist staff working with youth in attendance at quarterly male-only and female-only Lock-Ins at the Armory (Boys’ Lock-ins will be held every 3rd Friday in January, April, July and October/Girls’ will be every 4th Friday in those months).  Hours are 9:00 pm Friday until 7:00 am Saturday morning, shifts are a possibility. Positive Role models needed. Background checks are required; prefer volunteers who will return quarterly.
  • Graffiti Removal: Neighborhoods and individuals are invited to adopt public areas that are frequently tagged with graffiti.

Find more opportunities:

Volunteer Guide

Volunteer Columbia connects citizens who want to serve with city staff and departments who have opportunities to help! The mission of the City’s Volunteer Programs is to provide valuable opportunities to build community while volunteering in city government.

Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) Volunteer Work Days

Location: Kilgore’s Garden, 700 N Providence Rd, Columbia MO
Schedule: Tue, 4-6 pm, during the growing season (check website for changes)
http://columbiaurbanag.org/
All ages welcome! Come out to the garden at Kilgore’s to help with a wide range of urban gardening projects. We would love to have you! Please wear closed-toed shoes and sun protection. Bring a water bottle, and remember to stay hydrated. If you are bringing a group or have further questions, please email [email protected].

Location: CCUA Urban Farm, 1209 Smith St, Columbia MO
Schedule: Thu, 4-6 pm, during the growing season (check website for changes)
http://columbiaurbanag.org/
All ages welcome! Help with projects ranging from chicken coop construction to new bed installation. Wear closed-toed shoes and sun protection. While they do have water at the farm, they recommend bringing a bottle and ensure staying hydrated. For groups or questions, email [email protected].

Columbia Eve Fest (New Year’s celebration)
Location: The District (downtown)
Schedule: annually on December 31
http://columbiaevefest.com/?page_id=18
Application: https://www.GoColumbiaMo.com/Volunteer/  Fill out the application. Check the box for festivals and events. Then add a note that you want to volunteer for Columbia Eve Fest.
Info: Tina, 573-874-7499, [email protected]
Volunteers are needed for sales, ushers, wrist band checkers, stages, and the children’s art area. It takes approximately 200 volunteers to produce Eve Fest—lend a hand for a few hours and receive free admission to Eve Fest. Most volunteers serve in 2-hour shifts.

Food 4 Kids
The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri
2101 Vandiver Drive, Columbia, Missouri 65202 | Phone: 573-474-1020 | Toll-Free: 800-764-366
http://sharefoodbringhope.org/summerfood4kids/
In the 2014-15 school year, the number of kids eligible for Free & Reduced lunches would was 57,800!  The program provides for children during the school year, but The Food Bank wants to continue meeting the need throughout the summer.
The Food 4 Kids Program serves free lunches to children at designated sites through the summer. Meals are served as a complete package and have the same meal components as school lunch.
Summer Food 4 Kids is made possible by The Food Bank, general donations, the time and effort of local volunteers, support from our affiliate, Feeding America and the Federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
Volunteers are needed Monday-Friday to help over the lunch hour to pass out lunches to children at the following sites.  2-3 volunteers are needed to be at each site listed below to receive the lunches, pass out the lunches, interact with the children while they are eating and pick up any trash on site.  If you are available in helping, please contact Melanie Lake at 573-447-6609 or [email protected] at soon as possible.  We welcome volunteers to sign up for a block of days or as many individuals days as you are available.  This is a great service opportunity for church groups, youth service groups and folks that have a heart to make sure kids get a lunch each weekday.
To volunteer you must complete the following two sets of training instructions:
Training Instructions
Volunteer Training Completion Form
Summer 2015 locations: Oakland Park, Bear Creek, Indian Hills, Again Street, Fire Station #1.

KBIA (91.3 FM, Mid-Missouri Public Radio)
Schedule: As arranged with the contact below, and per event times.
Location: While Jesse Hall is under renovation, KBIA administrative offices are located in the Missouri Theater. The office address is 209 South 9th St, Columbia MO  65211; the Missouri Theater is at 203 S 9th St, Columbia MO  65201.
http://kbia.org/volunteer
Volunteer Contact: Kyle Felling, Program Director
KBIA relies on volunteers for seasonal support in the offices and at outside events. Volunteers play an important role at KBIA, whether one-time during a pledge drive, or as an ongoing commitment. In exchange, volunteers enjoy benefits such as a chance to meet KBIA staff and see the station, an opportunity to get acquainted with folks who share your interests, and that great feeling you get when you support public radio! Volunteers are periodically needed for such tasks as answering phones during pledge drives, and evening and weekend on-air announcing.

Missouri Crisis Line/Text Line (?)
The Missouri Crisis Line/Text Line is a 24-hour telephone crisis hotline. We offer a great one on one experience with flexible scheduling.  We ask that you VOLUNTEER one 3-hour shift a week and do one overnight (11pm-7am) a month. This is a 40 hour training.  All days are required, but you can miss a few days due to scheduling issues.  If you are interested, please email [email protected] or call 573-445-5005 (ask for Teresa).

Museum of Art and Archaeology (MAA) (University of Missouri)
Schedule: As arranged with the Museum.
Location: Mizzou North, 115 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia MO
https://maa.missouri.edu/?q=get-involved/volunteers
General Info (or see specific contacts below): 573-882-3591
MAA members, associates, and volunteers are an integral part of the Museum. Volunteering is a great way to meet new and interesting people, learn more about art, and support the Museum. Read below for more about some of the many volunteer opportunities.
Museum of Art and Archaeology’s Museum Store: Volunteer shifts to staff the Museum Store are scheduled for two hours once a week. Museum Store volunteers are good-will ambassadors to the public and representatives of community support. Museum Store hours: Monday through Friday, 10 am-4 pm. Contact: Bruce Cox, 573-882-3591.
Museum docents give Museum tours or help with other educational events with the education department. Contact: Cathy Callaway, Museum Educator, 573-882-5076.
MU students can join the Museum Advisory Committee of Students (MACS), a group of undergraduate and graduate students that offers support for the Museum. They put on the Haunted Museum in October and an Art After Dark event in April. The group usually meets twice a month.

Mid-Mid-Missouri Pridefest logoMissouri Pridefest
Schedule: As arranged with the Museum.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
Schedule: The 2015 festival will be held September 25-27, 2015.
Location: Stephens Lake Park, 2001 E Broadway, Columbia MO  65201
http://rootsnbluesnbbq.com/
Contact: Tom Smith, Volunteer Coordinator, 424-26-BLUES, [email protected]
The 9th Festival will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 25-27, 2015, at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia, Missouri. First Launched in 2007, the festival features over 30 artists representing the genres of roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, and soul. The line up includes international, national, regional, and local artists. American Blues Scene Magazine called it “One of the most prominent festivals in the country!” As well as live music, fans enjoy delicious BBQ from local and national vendors. Included in the festival is a ½ Marathon and 10K on Saturday morning and a Gospel Event on Sunday. The festival is a fun, true and unique celebration of music, food and culture.
The volunteers page (available after February 2015) is the place to sign up to volunteer for The Festival. Assignments will be made beginning in July.

Safe Kids Day
Schedule: Annually, April or May
Location: Hearnes Center, Columbia, Missouri
https://www.muhealth.org/conditions-treatments/pediatrics/safe-kids
Maggie Schuh, [email protected]
573-771-9216
The Show-Me State Games are the largest state games in the nation. Have fun and assist the thousands of participating athletes in the largest state games in the nation! Assist at a sport you know something about, or try a new one. You can sign up as an individual, group, club, department or business. Volunteer shifts are approximately 5 hours long. Volunteer activities include registration, setting up equipment for the athletes, and recording scores / times. All ages are encouraged to volunteer; volunteers under the age of 16 should be accompanied by a responsible adult.

33rd Show-Me State Games
Schedule: Annually in the summer, June and July

  • State-Me State Games of Mid-America – Jun 14-18, 2017
  • Show-Me State Games – Jul 21-23, and Jul 28-30, 2017

Location: Various locations in Columbia, Missouri
https://www.smsg.org/volunteer/volunteer.php
Maggie Schuh, [email protected]
573-884-2946
The Show-Me State Games are the largest state games in the nation. Have fun and assist the thousands of participating athletes in the largest state games in the nation! Assist at a sport you know something about, or try a new one. You can sign up as an individual, group, club, department or business. Volunteer shifts are approximately 5 hours long. Volunteer activities include registration, setting up equipment for the athletes, and recording scores / times. All ages are encouraged to volunteer; volunteers under the age of 16 should be accompanied by a responsible adult.

True/False Film Fest's Profile PhotoTrue/False (T/F) Film Fest
March 2-5, 2017

Schedule: Volunteers for movie review can apply and are selected approximately in July. Info sessions are generally held in late November/early December. Mandatory volunteer meetings and scheduling are in February-March and listed in the online application. Volunteers are needed before, during, and after the festival.
http://truefalse.org/
http://volunteer.truefalse.org/
True/False Film Fest Volunteers https://www.facebook.com/groups/440935772628898/
Contact: [email protected], 573-442-8783 (-TRUE)
(from a previous year application—details may be adjusted for upcoming festivals) The energy and creative spirit of more than 1,000 people working in more than 25 different teams will be needed to make T/F a great fest!
New Volunteers & Background Information: The application form is at the above Website.
There are two levels of volunteer participation: General Volunteers commit a minimum of 15 hours, get a volunteer pass (grants admission to films via the Q at all festival venues), an official volunteer t-shirt, and admission to the volunteers-only party; Juggernauts commit to 40 hours. Both volunteer levels receive a volunteer pass allowing them to Q for films for free, but T-shirt designs differ, and Juggernauts also get to pick up 6 tickets at the Box Office starting at 9 am the Friday of the fest, and a voucher to get into the coveted Silver Circle Q at either The Blue Note or Missouri Theatre. Juggernauts often work both during and before or after the festival, since putting in 40 hours over the course of 3 1/2 days can be overwhelming. If you have little festival experience, we recommend trying out a General position in your first year with T/F. Most positions can be accomplished by volunteers with little to no experience, but certain teams have restrictions or requirements to get the job done. For example, you must have valid driver’s license to be considered for the Chauffeur team, and you should be willing to lift heavy objects to work in Set Up & Break Down. Volunteer qualifications are included in each team description. (See the Website.) Team sizes vary considerably based on the type of work being done – from over 300 volunteers needed for Theater Operations, to only 10 volunteers on the Build Team. All of these positions play an important role – it is not the size of the team that matters – and smaller teams fill up faster than larger teams.
Returning Volunteers: Be sure to respond to queries about your past T/F experiences, and also indicate if you have already been recruited to work on a 2015 team by naming your team leader.

Unbound Book Festival
Schedule: Apr 23, 2016 (1st festival)
Location: Stephens College, 1200 E Broadway
Signup: http://www.unboundbookfestival.com/volunteer/
Since this is a new festival, click on the above link to sign up, and they will contact you to arrange a volunteer assignment.
Putting on a book festival doesn’t take a village – it takes a heaving, sprawling, over-populated metropolis. In other words, there are many, many different jobs that need to be done, both on the day and beforehand. Volunteer and meet your literary heroes face-to-face!
Unbound is a brand-new festival in Columbia, Missouri, which celebrates literature of all kinds. Nationally-recognized and bestselling authors across many different genres will come to mid-Missouri to discuss their work and participate in a variety of stimulating events and environments. The inaugural event will take place on the campus of Stephens College, in Columbia, Missouri, on APRIL 23, 2016. There will be separate programs for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children’s Events. In addition there will be a variety of panels throughout the day on a variety of book-related topics. And for you, dear guest, it’s all completely free.
Mission: The Unbound Book Festival aims to bring nationally and internationally recognized authors of world-class renown to Columbia, Missouri, to talk about their books, their work, and their lives.  We believe that life should be a conversation, and so every event at Unbound will be wildly interactive.  There’ll be no boring monologues here.  Guest authors will be interviewed by other guest authors.  There will be Q and A sessions – you’ll be able to post questions in advance for individual authors on the website – panels, and multiple chances to meet and speak with your literary heroes.  We have all manner of unusual events planned.  Our festival will be innovative, different, stimulating and – above all – fun.
But it’s not just about one amazing day of bookish joy every April.  We’re aiming to raise funds and awareness to improve literacy standards throughout the State of Missouri.  Missouri has one of the lowest literacy rates in the United States, for both children and adults.  The link between illiteracy and low quality of life has been established again and again.  The Unbound Book Festival pledges to support the drive to improve our state’s literacy rates – because books, after all, should be for everyone.

University of Missouri Concert Series
Schedule: As arranged with the contact below, and per event times.
Location: Jesse Hall is under renovation. Concert Series shows will generally be held in the Missouri Theater, 203 S 9th St, Columbia MO  65201.
Info: http://www.concertseries.org/volunteer/
Volunteer Contact: Anne French, Outreach Coordinator, 573-882-3781
Volunteering is a great opportunity to show support for something you believe in.
Many people volunteer:

  • to give back to the community
  • to have fun
  • to get experience in a possible career field
  • to strengthen a resume
  • to use skills they do not use on their job
  • to share an activity with their partner and/or family
  • to support a worthy cause

The University Concert Series (UCS) is grateful for the efforts of over 100 ushers—all volunteers—who make the experience of attending UCS performances and events a much more enjoyable one. Many arrive hours before the concert to receive information on the evening’s program and assist in readying the concert hall for as many as 1,800 concertgoers who will begin arriving in the hour prior to the performance.
Individuals who volunteer for this program must be friendly and energetic, enjoy helping others, and be interested in a diverse season of performances ranging from stand-up comedy to chamber music.