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Volunteer Opportunities

There are many benefits to volunteering while you are in college! At Drake we work reciprocally with local neighborhoods and community organizations to identify opportunities for students to serve. Annually, Drake partners with over 100 community agencies and schools on a variety of projects from lunch hour reading programs with kids at King elementary to building houses with Habitat for Humanity. Whatever your interest there is an opportunity for you to get involved! Check out below for some of the requests we've received recently or search the United Way Volunteer Database for 100s of opportunities. 

If you're looking to develop a more ongoing relationship with a community partner, read through this checklist first. 

Are you a community partner wanting to learn how to get your opportunity posted? Click here for more information. 

Want to stay up to date on current volunteer and community engagement opportunities? Sign up for our newsletter. 

Commitment to Racial Justice

The Office of Community Engaged Learning & Service affirms our commitment to racial justice. The objectives of our office are for students to be able to know themselves, understand the complexities of the world, and take creative action. This newsletter shares ideas on how individuals can educate themselves on topics of racial justice and take action to create change.

Looking to participate in a demonstration or counter-demonstration while guarding your safety and health? A little planning can go a long way, visit the Office of Equity & Inclusion Website for tips on How to Stay Safe & Healthy at a Demonstration.

Volunteering in times of Coronavirus

There are still ways to support our neighbors, even during social distancing. Some people have new needs emerging, while others have existing needs exacerbated by the situation. This Washington Post article has some great general information "How can you help during the Coronavirus outbreak?"

If you're looking to volunteer this year or partner with a non-profit organization, please watch this 3-minute training video first. 

Staying Safe as a volunteer

Whether you volunteer formally with an organization or informally with members of your community, always prioritize your safety and well-being. Below are suggestions for how you can help yourself and others stay safe as you give back.

*If you have been in contact with someone with any fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19, or if you are not feeling well or think you may have COVID-19, do not volunteer for any in-person efforts. Stay home, call your doctor, and separate yourself from others.

1. Protect yourself. | Take the recommended public health precautions at all times, which include washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and other people.

2. Protect others. | To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

3. Individuals at higher risk should avoid physical contact with others. | Individuals at higher risk who want to volunteer should consider opportunities that do not involve close physical contact with others, such as remote duties and administrative or support functions.

3. Prepare for your shift. | Carry personal items that may help during volunteer shifts, such as water, a mask, antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60 percent or greater, prescriptions/inhalers, snacks, and a phone charger. Also dress weather appropriate.

4. Call ahead when helping others. | When offering to help those in your neighborhood or community, never show up unannounced. Call first and arrange to drop items at their door. Avoid entering others’ homes unless absolutely necessary. Practice social distancing by keeping a minimum of six feet between you and any other person.

5. Volunteer virtually. | Consider virtual ways to give back, such as online giving funds, charity drives, or virtual volunteer opportunities. There are many nonprofits and businesses in need of virtual assistants to help with organizational tasks, order placements and customer relations.

6. Again, if you have had any contact with another person who has not been feeling well, or if you, personally, feel in any way unwell, do not volunteer for activities that require you to leave your home. This includes any symptoms of cough, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches or pains, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Volunteer ideas to consider. If you are not in Des Moines, Volunteer Iowa has a list of volunteer opportunities across the state of Iowa as a result of Covid-19. 

Direct Service:

  • United Way of Central Iowa is keeping an updated list of needs on its Covid-19 Volunteer Opportunities website.
  • Sprout Urban Youth Learning Garden on Drake's campus needs volunteers to help water, weed, and harvest produce. Flexible hours. Contact 
  • Children & Family Urban Movement is looking for volunteers to hand out food to those in need. Shifts are available Monday-Friday 4-5:45pm and take place at the corner of 8th and College St. Bring your own mask, gloves are provided. Contact to sign up.
  • UnityPoint in DSM is accepting donations of homemade masks.


  • Reggie's Sleepout, Sept. 4-13 - Reggie's Sleepout, which typically happens at the Drake Stadium each year, is being held on an individual basis! Join your roommate or family and participate in this event that support Iowa Homeless Youth Shelters. Sign up at There is a registration fee of $25 that includes your camper starter kit, a 2020 foldable water bottle and packable tote bag, access to exclusive educational material and more.
  • Contribute to Drake's Virtual Food Drive to benefit Des Moines Area Religious Council, which manages 14 local food pantries:  Because DMARC can buy in bulk, a donation of just one dollar yields greater purchasing power than an individual person at a grocery store.
  • Donate to the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences' virtual fundraiser for the Food Bank of IowaDonate today! 
  • Consider donating blood. The American Red Cross encourages healthy, eligible individuals to schedule an appointment at Demand for blood is high and fewer people are donating. You can also schedule an appointment with LifeServe Blood Center at
  • Drop off canned goods and toiletries to one of the Drake Neighborhood's Little Free Pantries, or a little library or little pantry in your own community. 

  • The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines has activated a Disaster Recovery Fund that will be used to support communities that are disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 emergency. The Community Foundation’s board and United Way of Central Iowa have both dedicated $100,000 to this fund. Additional donations can be made at
  • Drake's corporate partner, Principal Financial Group, has started "The Giving Chain" which purchases meals and activity kits from local businesses, then donates them to central Iowa nonprofits.

Policy and Governance: 

  • Contact your legislators about bills and policies that will impact people during this disaster, such as unemployment. Find your legislators at
  • Attend a virtual city council meeting or neighborhood association meeting to learn about important issues in your community.

Community Organizing and Activism: 

  • Unfortunately, the coronavirus has brought out countless instances of xenophobia. As a form of activism, you can call out xenophobic reactions on social media or in conversations.
  • Check on your neighbors - send them a text or phone call to see if they need anything - you can always leave a roll of toilet paper or some canned goods on their doorstep if they are in need. 

Social Entrepreneurship and Corporate Responsibility

  • Support local businesses that are still open during these trying times. Purchase gift cards to use at the business at a later date. 


Community News