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United Way’s Guide to Social Distance Volunteering

Did you know volunteering is closely tied to good health? Just like eating right and getting regular exercise, volunteering fosters a healthy lifestyle.


A growing body of research shows a significant relationship between volunteering and good health, in addition to the social benefits brought about by volunteering. When people volunteer they not only help their community, but also experience better health in later years – whether in terms of greater longevity, fewer physical limitations or lower rates of depression.


With an eye on promoting healthy lifestyles, especially during COVID-19, United Way makes it easy to get involved, stay active and make a difference with our Social Distance Volunteering Guide.



Kit Packing


Assembling kits – like snack packs, pencil packs or hygiene kits – is a volunteer activity that provides needed materials for nonprofit agencies and can be accomplished individually or as a group. For a group, set up the activity in a space that allows for social distancing, while ensuring that all surfaces, items and volunteers’ hands are disinfected.


For individuals who will be packing kits remotely, arrange to deliver the kit materials to volunteers or set a time when they can pick them up. Similarly, when the volunteers have finished packing, arrange to have them return their finished kits and any unused supplies.


Get more tips for organizing great kit packing projects and links to purchase kit materials.



Flash Cards


Classroom Central, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides free school supplies to students and teachers in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, encourages volunteers to create and package educational flash cards that are distributed to students in need.


There are a variety of cards to choose from, all of which help support basic skills-building in mathematics and language arts. This is a very simple activity to organize for remote volunteers, since the necessary supplies – colored markers, unlined index cards and Ziploc sandwich bags – are readily available at drugstores or office supply stores.


Plan this activity by reviewing flash card instructions and templates.



Off-Site Volunteer Opportunities


A few nonprofit agencies in the Charlotte region need volunteers to assist with operations at their facilities, although at lower-than-usual capacity.


Volunteers must wear masks and maintain social distance, but groups of up to 10 individuals can often be accommodated to help with sorting and packing materials. These agencies include:




Skills-Based Volunteering


Through skills-based volunteering, individuals or small groups of employees who have specialized skills or experience leverage that knowledge to help nonprofit agencies improve their internal operations or expand their programming.


Skills-based volunteer engagements are high-impact and very customized to the needs of the nonprofit beneficiary, but they can take place virtually via video conference. These engagements typically take place over several weeks or months, with regular check-ins between the volunteers and agency.


Interested in learning more about skills-based volunteering? Email