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Volunteer Odyssey is kicking off 2023 with 23 ways to volunteer!

23 Ways to Make a Difference in Memphis

Hello, 2023! We’re celebrating another year of being a Bluff Citizen by showcasing even more ways to support your city through service.

Keep scrolling to find 23 ways to make a difference in memphis!

Winter-specific opportunities:

With the temperatures dropping, after weeks of seemingly nonstop rain, our neighbors need extra support. Here are ways to serve those experiencing hunger and homelessness this winter season. 

A group of people with masks standing in front of a table advocating to Make a Difference in Memphis.
Make a difference in Memphis with Community Alliance for the Homeless.

1. Point-in-Time Count Surveyor, January 25th

  • 3AM-7AM and 6AM-10AM
  • The Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is an annual survey of the unhoused population in Memphis/Shelby County that happens every year at the end of January. Teams of volunteers load up with care bags and head out early in the morning with outreach staff to identify as many people experiencing unsheltered homelessness as possible. The PIT Count is important because it provides a snapshot of homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County at a given point in time, and it is one of several critical elements used for measuring progress in our city’s efforts to end homelessness.

2. Point-in-Time Count Personal Care Bag Donation

  • Remote opportunity leading up to the 25th
  • Part of the PIT Count involves handing out care bags to individuals. One of the ways you can support CAFTH and those experiencing homelessness this season is by making these kits.

3. Daily Food Mission Volunteer

  • Join the St. Vincent de Paul Food Mission as they rally to serve neighbors experiencing hunger throughout the week. Volunteers are needed to help prepare and plate the hot food served. Other tasks, such as unpacking and sorting food products, may be needed to ensure that each visitor receives a quality meal.

4. SVdP Care Kits & Winter Wear Donation

  • SVdP also distributes care kits and seasonal clothes and accessories, like winter wear, to their clients. If you have gloves, scarves, hats, or coats to donate, SVdP can pass them out to neighbors in need this winter. 

5. Clothing Closet Volunteer

  • Monday-Thursday with shifts, or Ongoing Clothing Donations
  • CCWTN runs a clothing closet that anyone can make an appointment to “shop” out of. Running entirely off of donations and volunteers, this is a great place to donate your used clothing, men’s wear especially! This winter season, they are also in need of warm clothing to distribute to their clients. You can drop off donations or sign up to work a shift in the closet. 

6. Food Box Packing Volunteer

  • Thursdays from 1PM-3PM
  • CCWTN distributes food boxes to neighbors in need every week! You can be part of the packing process by volunteering to work on their food box assembly line. Working out of their Community Support Center is a fun and fast-paced way to give back.

7. Mobile Food Pantry

  • Monday-Thursday from 8:45AM-11AM
  • Once the boxes are packed, you can volunteer in their weekly Mobile Food Pantry. Folks are able to attend the food pantry once a month to receive shelf-stable items as well as fresh items from the CCWTN garden. Volunteers are needed to collect information, distribute boxes, and direct traffic. 

Volunteer with volunteer odyssey:

A hand holding a sticker promoting making a difference in Memphis.
Make a difference in Memphis as a Volunteer Odyssey volunteer

8. Volunteer Odyssey Office Volunteer

  • January 12th from 1PM-4PM, hours are flexible
  • An afternoon in our office will consist of tasks like reviewing volunteer reflections, writing thank you notes to donors, researching ways to recruit volunteers, assisting with social media, and other tasks as needed—or as your skills allow! This would be the perfect position for a stay-at-home parent who wants to get out of the house for a few hours, or for a college-aged person who needs service hours and wants to learn more about the nonprofit sector.

9. Volunteer Odyssey Website Volunteer

  • Remote or in-person with flexible hours
  • Volunteer Odyssey is looking for a volunteer to assist with their website redesign! If you have experience designing or testing a website, are interested in creating content or gathering pictures, or have experience building out a mobile view, we’d like to pick your brain! Earn service hours from home or from our office in the gorgeous Arrow Creative building.

Weekend Volunteer Opportunities:

A man is planting a tree to make a difference in Memphis.

10. Washington Bottoms Trails Clean Up

  • January 7th from 10AM-12PM
  • is partnering with The Works, Inc. on improving Washington Bottoms and will be removing trash, vines, and invasive shrubbery along with a metal fence. Once cleared, this entry from Poplar Avenue to Washington Avenue will provide another way to come enjoy Washington Bottoms, the community garden trails, urban garden, and sunflower garden.

11. Wolf River 5k

  • January 14th from 6:30AM-9AM
  • Hosted by Start2Finish Events and benefitting Wolf River Conservancy, the Wolf River 5K is the first event in the ‘Campbell Clinic Collection’ Race Series. We will meet near the Wolf River Greenway on what is sure to be a beautiful, brisk January morning.  Volunteers are needed to assist with race registration & packet pickup, water stops, course monitoring, and water distribution at the Finish Line.

12. Morning Chores Volunteer

  • Daily from 8:15 am to 9:15 am 
  • Out of the Woods Wildlife Rescue & Rehab cares for orphaned and injured wildlife in Tennessee, such as raccoons, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, flying squirrels, foxes, rats, and mice. They need volunteers to complete specific daily responsibilities which may vary based on the patients they have. This shift will likely include: food prep, feeding animals, cleaning enclosures, enrichment activities, and getting to see some adorable wildlife!

MLK Day of Service Opportunities

A woman wearing a face mask is sweeping a street in Memphis to make a difference during the pandemic.
Serve Memphis this March: Help Memphis Rox tend to their neighborhood.

13. MLK Day Community Clean Up

  • January 14th from 11AM-4PM
  • Join Memphis Rox for their annual MLK Day Community Event. For this year’s volunteer event, they will be hosting a community cleanup here in the heart of South Memphis, on their campus in Soulsville. With your help, they will be able to help combat the problem of litter and debris within the Soulsville community and the Greater Memphis area.

14. Wolf River Restoration Series

  • January 16th from 10AM-12PM
  • The Wolf River Restoration Series returns in 2023, kicking off with our MLK Day of Service! Join Wolf River Conservancy as they honor the holiday and work to improve parts of the Raleigh neighborhood near Kennedy Park.  Volunteers are needed to help restore and enhance our local Memphis community by stewarding an unpaved trail, cleaning up litter & collecting discarded tires, and installing bird nest boxes along the Wolf River Greenway trail. Join in on this rewarding day of service!

15. MLK Day Service Project

  • January 14th from 10AM-12PM
  • Join for their MLK Day Service Project. This MLK project is part of their Shade is Cool campaign. Memphis City Beautiful, Huey’s, and Home Depot are partnering with to plant trees on Madison near S. Barksdale and on Angelus near the Bettis Cemetery. Volunteers will be digging holes to plant trees in the area next to the sidewalk at two locations. 

Additional ways to make a difference in memphis:

We firmly believe in there being a service opportunity for everyone! If the ones above or below aren’t right for you, no need to fret. Let the Volunteer Odyssey team assist.

A group of volunteers serve Memphis by working in a garden during October.

17. Campus Clean Up

  • January 19th from 2PM to 5PM
  • At For The Kingdom, they operate on a 100 acre campus where they host community events, school partners, and student camps and retreats. They are open year round therefore the campus endures a great deal of foot traffic. As a campus clean up volunteer you would be helping keep the campus beautiful by picking up trash, organizing outdoor spaces, and cleaning off our patios and porches. Join in on keeping FTK clean!

18. Washington Bottoms Clean Up

  • January 7th from 10AM- 12PM
  • is partnering with The Works, Inc. on improving Washington Bottoms and will be removing trash, vines, and invasive shrubbery along with a metal fence. Once cleared, this entry from Poplar Avenue to Washington Avenue will provide another way to come enjoy Washington Bottoms, the community garden trails, urban garden, and sunflower garden.

19. Ongoing Opportunities

  • The V&E Greenline is a 1.7 mile trail that runs through Midtown, connecting the Crosstown Concourse to Springdale. The trail is volunteer run and hosts a monthly cleanup to maintain the greenline. The Greenline could also use assistance with volunteer coordination, routine maintenance, and social media help.

20. Ongoing Opportunities

  • Arkwings Foundation is a non-profit wellness foundation that promotes mind, body, and spirit wellness through the healing power of arts and nature. Their gorgeous campus is situated in Frayser and contains a big house full of local art and a yard full of interactive displays and a community garden. Volunteers are needed to act as docents for their gallery, to assist with social media, or other tasks as needed!

21. Court Watch Volunteer

  • Daily shifts from 9AM-12PM
  • Join Just City in their Court Watch Volunteer Program. Just City knows that attendance creates pressure. They watch court proceedings in order to demand justice and fairness by our elected officials. Court watch invites community volunteers into courtrooms to observe proceedings that are typically invisible to the general public. Interested volunteers are required to attend this orientation before sitting in on court.

22. Incognito Silent Art Auction & Party

  • January 27th
  • The Memphis Botanic Garden will need volunteers to join in for their exciting Incognito Silent Art Auction & Party. Volunteers may assist with a variety of responsibilities including greeting guests, monitoring guest traffic, food distribution and more. This event allows Exposure to new and unique art by local talent. Vibrant and exciting atmosphere. This opportunity may be used toward volunteer hours for high school, college, etc.

23. If you have a special skill, an unconventional schedule, or simply want a suggestion for where to get started, our team is here to help. Email for a personalized list of where to serve.

Guest post by Dannon Thornton, Volunteer Odyssey Director of Community Engagement

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