101+ ways to give back, lend a hand and make a difference in St. Louis
Nearly 30 percent of St. Louisans donate time to a cause, from tutoring children to distributing food, manning fundraising booths or caring for animals. All told, we spent 85 million hours volunteering in 2007. And in a time of economic struggle, it’s important to give back—whether it’s donating your time or your dollars. Not sure where to start? Getting involved is easy with our guide of organizations that can all use an extra set of hands.
Help Find a Cure
Empower those who are fighting to regain their healt
Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center
Located at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Wash
U School of Medicine, Siteman is an international leader in cancer prevention, research and patient care. Siteman has more than 350 Washington University scientists and physicians providing care for nearly 8,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year and is recognized among the best cancer centers in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Local Impact: With facilities at Barnes-Jewish
West County Hospital in Creve Coeur and Barnes- Jewish St. Peters Hospital in St. Charles County, the Siteman Cancer Center offers nationally recognized cancer care in convenient locations throughout the St. Louis area.
Get Involved: The warmth and friendliness of volunteers are invaluable to cancer patients; volunteer or work behind the scenes (siteman.wustl.edu, 800.594.0417).
Few diseases affect families like Alzheimer’s does. It’s estimated that 5.3 million Americans suffer from the degenerative brain disease, and their needs involve 9.9 million caregivers. The 38-county St. Louis Chapter alone serves 66,000 families.
Local Impact: The St. Louis chapter spends 83 cents of every dollar to service local families—and 90 percent of chapter revenue comes directly from individuals and organizations in our community.
Get Involved: Volunteers are needed for administrative tasks and to organize the September 12 Memory Walk in St. Louis (alz.org/stl, 314.432.3422).
American Cancer Society
Cancer death rates are dropping, however, more than 1.47 million Americans will be diagnosed this year, and more than 560,000 of them will die. The Society’s goal is to eliminate cancer entirely, through medical research and preventiveeducation.
Local Impact: The new Hope Lodge in the Central West End serves as out-of-town cancer patients’ “home away from home.” It’s one of 27 such lodges around the country.
Get Involved: Join the “Hope Lodge Heroes,” volunteers who pitch in at the facility, or participate in a Relay for Life walk (cancer.org, 314.286.8100).
American Diabetes Association
It’s estimated that eight percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, and about a quarter of them don’t know it yet. The inability to produce or properly use insulin can impact nearly anyone, and if left untreated can cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, nervous system and teeth.
Local Impact: In addition to prevention and treatment, local ADA provides $4 million to about a dozen research projects at Saint Louis University and Washington University.
Get Involved: Sign up for the ADA benefit Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes on October 10 or BAD Ride (Bikers Against Diabetes) September 27 (diabetes. org, 314.822.5490).
American Heart Association
Although the AHA invests $160 million in research each year, it’s also a valuable educator about health topics like weight loss, nutrition and CPR training. Since its inception in 1924, it has broadened its focus to include strokes, childhood heart disease and more than a dozen other conditions.
Local Impact: The top causes of death in Missouri are cardiovascular disease and strokes, and AHA is determined to reduce those deaths by 25 percent before 2010.
Get Involved: Learn CPR, participate in the Heart Walk in Columbia, Mo., August 29, or ask your employer to get involved in the Start! corporate wellness program (americanheart.org, 314.692.5662).
American Parkinson Disease Association
With a dual goal of supporting research ($30 million in donations to date) and education ($25 million), the APDA is a lifeline for the 1.5 million Americans suffering from this disorder of the central nervous system.
Local Impact: The St. Louis American Parkinson Disease Association Information and Referral Center is one of the largest in the country.
Get Involved: Volunteers help organize two substantial fundraisers, a spring golf classic and a fall fashion show. The satellite resource center in Chesterfield also welcomes volunteers (stlapda.org, 314.362.3299).
Colon Cancer Alliance
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among both men and women, and although it’s highly treatable, it’s often not caught in time, making it the second most deadly cancer. The CCA is committed to removing barriers to early detection as well as supporting medical research.
Local Impact: The Gateway CCA coaxed 700 runners to Forest Park in March to brave the Undy 5000 5K run—in their underwear. The hardy athletes raised about $80,000, which was split between the local and national organizations.
Get Involved: Opportunities include greeters to help patients at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center navigate the campus and, of course, next March’s Undy 5000 (ccalliance. org, 202.434.8980).
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Fifty years ago, a cystic fibrosis diagnosis meant a child might not live to attend elementary school. Although there’s still no cure, advances in treatment are allowing the 30,000 people with this hereditary chronic disease of the lungs and digestive system to live into their 30s and beyond.
Local Impact: In Missouri, 613 CF patients receive treatment at six care centers. Children’s Hospital and Cardinal Glennon rank as two of the best clinics nationwide.
Get Involved: The Gateway Chapter welcomes volunteers for the Jack Buck 40th Anniversary Golf Classic August 10, the Festiv-ale August 28, Wine Opener October 24, Bowl for Breath November 7 and Reach for a Star Gala November 13 (cff.org/chapter /gateway, 314.733.1241).
Epilepsy Foundation of the St. Louis Region
The Epilepsy Foundation wants to ensure that people with this medical condition that produces seizures—including 200,000 in our region—are able to live as normally as possible.
Local Impact: In 2008 the foundation assisted more than 1,000 of the 17,509 people with epilepsy in eastern and southern Missouri. Its June Bowl-a-RAM-a event, supported by St. Louis Rams players, raised $30,000.
Get Involved: Financial stability is a one of the top needs of those with epilepsy. The foundation is helping 40 percent of the people in its local employment program find work and supporting the 60 percent who currently have jobs (epilepsyfoundation.org/stlouis, 314.645.6969).
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Juvenile diabetes, also known as type 1 diabetes, is a chronic autoimmune disease that can shorten one’s life by 7-10 years. The JDRF awarded $158 million toward researching a cure in 2008. It also provides an all-important social network in schools, in
communities and online for youngsters with type 1.
Local Impact: In May, the JDRF’s annual gala raised a record-breaking $900,000 for the Metro St. Louis chapter.
Get Involved: Join the Metro Saint Louis/ Greater Missouri Walk October 4 ( jdrfstl.org, 314.729.1846).
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Every 10 minutes, another child or adult loses the battle with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma, cancers originating in the bone marrow or lymphatic tissues. The LLS strives to cure these diseases through drug, radiation and bone marrow treatments.
Local Impact: St. Louis’ Gateway Chapter has given about $1 million to researchers, including eight at the Washington University
School of Medicine.
Get Involved: Children with leukemia strike a chord, motivating their peers to raise $285,000 at 350 local schools in this year’s Pennies for Patients campaign. The LLS’ Team in Training recruits athlete-fundraisers, and anyone in the community can join the annual Light The Night Walk held in September They also accept volunteers (lls.org, 314.878.0780).
Muscular Dystrophy Association
The list of diseases the MDA covers is daunting, but promising reports about advances including stem cell research, gene therapy and molecular treatment flow steadily from its 400 worldwide research projects.
Local Impact: The MDA/ALS Center at the Washington University School of Medicine is among the 39 most elite MDA clinics around the nation for the extensive amount of research it performs for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and the vast experience of its staff in dealing with the disease.
Get Involved: Join the two million others who donate time, be it during telethons or as volunteer counselors at camps for kids age 6 to 17 (mda.org, 314.962.0023).
National Kidney Foundation
One in eight U.S. adults has chronic kidney disease. By supporting the foundation, you are helping these 26 million Americans improve their health and well-being, supporting kidney disease prevention and increasing the availability of organ and tissue transplants.
Local Impact: The local Kidney Walk in June raised $147,000, more than 80 percent of which goes directly to support NKF programs and services.
Get Involved: Sample the chili from 50 competing teams at Westport Plaza September 26 at the annual Chili Fest (kidney.org, 314.961.2828).
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Each week, American doctors diagnose 200 new cases of MS, a chronic disease of the central nervous system. Thanks in part to the MS Society’s research, new drugs and treatment methods are giving more than 400,000 Americans a shot at managing this unpredictable disease.
Local Impact: The Gateway Area Chapter helps over 6,000 individuals in 90 counties with support services and educational programs.
Get Involved: Walk in O’Fallon, IL, on August 22 (or participate in many other MS walks in the area) or bike in Columbia, Mo., September 12-13. There’s also an online listing of the many communications, outreach and service opportunities (gatewaymssociety. org, 314.781.9020).
St. Louis Effort for AIDS
Drug treatments for HIV/AIDS continue to improve, but misinformation and stigma about the virus remain. As one of the leading AIDS service organizations in the metropolitan area, the Saint Louis EFA provides education and support to those with HIV and AIDS—which affects St. Louisans at a rate of 8.2 AIDS infections per 100,000 people.
Local Impact: EFA brings the national support program Shanti L.I.F.E. to gay and bisexual men with HIV/AIDS. Other services include case management and free HIV/AIDS testing.
Get Involved: Whether your talents include working on computers, caring for pets, hosting a meal or public speaking, EFA has a
role for you. And don’t forget to invite your friends to a participating restaurant during the National Dining Out For Life event next April and the local Thirst For Life event on August 27 (stlefa.org, 314.333.6660).
St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness
Symptoms which can easily be ignored or overlooked mean that two-thirds of the 23,000 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year will already be in the late stages, when the prognosis is much worse. SLOCA was founded seven years ago to educate women about this “silent” disease and support those already battling it.
Local Impact: Two main events highlight SLOCA’s mission each year: The fall fashion show in September and the spring auction.
Get Involved: Raise funds for support and research on September 27 at the ROC Star 5K (sloca.org, 314.995.6220).
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Because one out of eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, this national grassroots organization invests in screening, treatment, education and research. It also unites newly diagnosed patients with more than 1 million survivors and activists worldwide.
Local Impact: Up to 75 percent of the net proceeds generated by the Komen St. Louis affiliate remain in the 18-county service area. Since 1999, that totals more than $11 million—not including the $3.25 million raised at this year’s Race for the Cure.
Get Involved: Volunteer at or participate in the Race for the Cure, one of the three largest 5Ks in the world, with 66,470 participants this past June (komenstlouis.org, 314.569.3900).
Impact the Lives of Children
Help put the next generation on a path to happiness.
For children in foster care, the wait for a permanent home can seem eternal—especially when they’re separated from their siblings. Angels’ Arms offers temporary homes where up to 36 children at a time live in a family setting with their siblings.
Local Impact: The charity has opened five homes in five years. More than 175 children have benefited from these peaceful, caring environments.
Get Involved: Donate items to the homes, become a Facebook fan, attend a social fundraising event, buy the cookbook or work on maintenance and repair projects (angelsarms.org, 314.726.6899).
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri
The name says it all—“bigs” sign up for a one-year commitment to meet with “littles,” whom they treat as their own siblings, taking them on fun excursions or simply hanging out. Right now more than 500 children are waiting for a match.
Local Impact: The local affiliate is 12th in size among all 470 affiliates across the country, serving more than 2,500 children and raising more than $500,000 annually.
Get Involved: Companies can contribute by letting their employees be Big For A Day. There are also site-based programs at schools and workplaces (bbbsemo.org, 314.361.5900).
Caring For Kids
The needs that land people in Family Court are heartbreakingly simple: an apartment deposit, job loss or utility bills. That’s where CFK comes in. When court personnel identify a child’s need for essential or emergency resources, they notify the Family Court liaison.
Local Impact: Family Court systems frequently turn to CFK—in St. Louis County alone, a typical month may see 1,300 children pass through the court.
Get Involved: Volunteers process CFK help requests from court liaisons quickly, so needs can be met within 72 hours. Social
butterflies can help with Night at the Moulin Rouge November 14 (caringforkids-stl.org, 314.726.5437).
CASA of St. Louis County
When a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer is assigned to an abused or neglected child in the Family Court system, he or she becomes a one-on-one advocate until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
Local Impact: CASA’s 298 case-active volunteers changed the lives of 415 children in 2008 and are working to bring the total to 600 this year.
Get Involved: CASA will train qualified
applicants to become advocates. Volunteers
also organize events like Smartypants Trivia and the 5K BLUE Skidoo (casastlcounty.org, 314.615.2908).
St. Louis Children’s Hospital
The award-winning 250-bed facility is the oldest pediatric hospital west of the Mississippi and consistently scores near the top in Parents magazine and U.S. News & World Report rankings. Each year 275,000 patients travel there to be treated by experts in organ transplantation, cochlear implants, burns, cleft palate and other critical conditions.
Local Impact: Children’s community outreach focuses on keeping kids healthy with topics like weight loss, asthma, transportation safety, dental health and more.
Get Involved: Students frequently volunteer at Children’s to earn graduation credit, but positions in the playroom, gift shop and information desk are open to adults too (stlouischildrens.org, 314.454.6145).
Children’s Miracle Network of Greater St.Louis
This organization raises money for St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.
Local Impact: Since 1988, they have equally divided more than $30 million between the two hospitals, helping them acquire programs and equipment and renovate facilities to meet the needs of area kids.
Get Involved: With only four full-time staffers, it would be impossible to pull off 40 events per year—volunteer help is a must
When high schoolers from under-resourced backgrounds contemplate a four-year college, this three-year-old organization helps them prepare and persevere through the sometimes difficult transition. To ensure their success, College Bound partners with local service organizations, school districts and eight local colleges and universities.
Local Impact: All 39 of the first College Bound graduating class in 2008 matriculated to four-year colleges; 94.7 percent of this year’s class is enrolled full-time in college.
Get Involved: AmeriCorps members with a bachelor’s degree can become College Coaches (collegeboundstl.org, 314.361.4441).
Friends of Wings
Friends of Wings supports the BJC Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care Wings Program which provides care for children regardless of their ability to pay. In addition, children in the Wings program benefit from Expressive, Art and Music Therapy, all in the loving, familiar environment of their homes. The therapists have seen the value each of these programs has in easing the pain, fear and loneliness of this terrible journey.
Local Impact: This year, the Friends of Wings launched a $1 million campaign to support the Jennifer and Jim Koman Art Therapy Endowment to ensure that children well into the future will have the opportunity to express thoughts and feelings that might never be spoken through art, music, photography and more.
Get Involved: The Friends of Wings are continually adding to their group of dedicated supporters. The generosity of the community allow the Wings staff to continue to meet the growing need for care in our area (friendsofwings.com, 314.953.1895).
Girls Inc. of St. Louis
By cultivating the intellectual, spiritual and physical potential of girls ages 4 to 18, this 28-year-old organization annually helps 12,000 girls and young women overcome the societal pressures and personal challenges they face.
Local Impact: It’s the only St. Louis organization that serves girls on a continuous, day-to-day basis, with 300 participants in the summer and service to several North County schools during the rest of the year.
Get Involved: Volunteers interact with and instruct the girls during after-school programs or summer camps (girlsincstl.org, 314.385.8088).
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri
If your only contact with the GSEM is to buy cookies from one of its 65,000 members, you may be surprised to learn of its wide-ranging, girl-centric programs, like preventing violence, promoting the exploration of math and science and improving financial savvy.
Local Impact: The April 2008 collection drive of personal care items yielded 1.1 million items, which made up 99 percent of such products distributed at area food pantries and shelters.
Get Involved: Some of the 17,000 adult volunteers are troop leaders, but some provide hands-on instruction— and others help organize sales of those beloved cookies (girlscoutsem.org, 314.592.2300).
Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America
Getting outdoors is a central theme of Scouting, and attending one of the four local camps is an integral part of the experience for many of the region’s 56,000 members (boys and, in the teenage years, girls too).
Local Impact: Scouting for Food started in 1985 and is now the nation’s largest one-day food drive, with two million items collected. Get Involved: Adults can be Merit Badge Counselors, Friends of Scouting fundraisers or leaders in one of the 1,100 units (stlbsa.org, 314.361.0600).
Haven House St. Louis
Families that travel more than 25 miles to receive care from one of 13 St. Louis-area hospitals can receive hotel-quality lodging, shuttle transportation for parents and siblings, and two meals each day for a nominal fee. The spacious house—there are four wings with seven rooms each, plus five second-floor bedroom/suites —has been serving families in this way since 2004.
Local Impact: Haven House touches the lives of 7,000 people annually.
Get Involved: Donate supplies from the online wish list, volunteer as a greeter or host family or become a member of the Young Friends Board (havenhousestl.org, 314.434.5858).
Twenty percent of Missouri kids live with food insecurity, and many of them are under age 5, so they don’t eat at school. During the summer, older kids don’t either. This organization raises awareness of hunger by teaming up with hundreds of local bands and venues ranging from The Sheldon to Atomic Cowboy.
Local Impact: A ticket stub on the homepage keeps a running total of food donated to date. In June that amount was nearly 51,000 pounds.
Get Involved: Be part of the street team, recruit on college campuses, help with the homepage or pitch in with media production (livefeed.org, 314.732.4986).
Logos is an independent, alternative, therapeutic middle and high school that provides care to adolescents who struggle in a traditional school setting. It’s the only program in the area that provides individualized academics to the students.
Local Impact: This year-round school has a student- teacher ratio of 6:1, plus 15 full-time licensed therapists. Since 1970, Logos has graduated more than 1400 students.
Get Involved: Every dollar goes directly to Logos students. Join Logos at their annual auction on October 3 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark (logosschool.org, 314.997.7002).
Make-a-Wish Foundation of Missouri
A child’s diagnosis with a life-threatening illness places huge stress on his or her family, and MAW’s mission is to alleviate that tension by granting a child one heartfelt desire.
Local Impact: Publicity of fulfilled wishes is rare, but in fact, MAW serves every medically eligible child who makes a wish. In the 115 Missouri and six Kansas counties MAW serves, 350 children each year become eligible.
Get Involved: MAW’s 450 volunteers provide pure joy for kids, some by working directly with families, others by coordinating fundraisers or doing administrative tasks (mo.wish.org, 314.721.9474).
Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club
Its goals have evolved significantly since its founding in 1960 as a place that provides “structured recreational activities.” Now the North City club adds citizenship, productivity and moral lessons that have far-reaching impacts for the 40,000 young men and women it serves each year.
Local Impact: In 2009, the Sky’s the Limit career readiness program paired its 3,250th female student with a mentor and reached the $325,000 mark in scholarships. The Maleness to Manhood weekend offers college and career fairs and life skills seminars to young men. Get Involved: The homepage has specific volunteer descriptions—administrators, coaches, tutors, group leaders and more (mathews-dickey.com, 314.382.5952).
Orlando Family Foundation for Charities
Sam Orlando, Sr., started this charitable arm after his family threw him a 60th birthday party in 1999. He insisted having this birthday party every year after and would charge people to attend so he could donate the money to charity.
Local Impact: The Orlando Family Foundation for Charities has raised over $375,000 for organizations like Ronald McDonald House, Birth Rite and Nurses for Newborns.
Get Involved: Attend the 11th annual fundraiser on January 30, 2010 at Orlando Gardens (orlandogardens.com, 314.638.6660).
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Metro St. Louis
An average of 39 families per night depend on Ronald McDonald House locations while their seriously ill children receive care at local hospitals. They pay only $5 per night and receive food, comfort and the support of a caring network in return.
Local Impact: In addition to two houses and eight apartment units, the St. Louis House operates Family Rooms at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, Children’s Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Medical Center.
Get Involved: Last year, volunteers donated more than 20,000 hours, dinner groups served 892 meals and handymen maintained 80 sinks and 25 refrigerators. Check out “30 Ways in 30 Days” online for other ideas (rmhcstl.com, 314.773.1100).
Sherwood Forest Camp
The facilities are rustic—no AC for campers in Lesterville—and the outdoor components are challenging,but kids come to this camp year after year, from first through 10th grade. The camp supports children from families living in poverty; for many of these children, the camp experience provides their only summertime enrichment and learning opportunity.
Local Impact: Families pay only $50 to send a child to camp. The actual cost, $157 per day, is picked up by private individuals, foundations, corporations and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Youth Opportunities Program.
Get Involved: Volunteers help out with the summer camp and Continued Contact programs. Throughout the rest of the year, the St. Louis office can use administrative help (sherwoodforestcamp.com, 314.644.3322).
The Delta Gamma Center for Children With Visual Impairments
The center’s core mission is teaching families how to ensure their visually impaired child reaches his or her full potential. It recently moved into a state-of-the-art facility that’s creating new opportunities for its families.
Local Impact: Last year, 150 infants and toddlers and their families received education and therapy services, and 125 families with school-age children received support. In addition, the center’s volunteers screened 2,700 preschoolers and trained dozens of pediatric professionals.
Get Involved:The center welcomes pro bono donations of professional services (photography, law, graphic design and public relations) as well as volunteers in administrative, landscaping or childcare capacities (dgckids.org, 314.776.1300).
Care for our Four-Legged Friends
Speak up on behalf of abused and neglected animals.
Animal Protective Association of Missouri
The APA’s shelter and veterinary clinic helps more than 4,000 dogs and cats annually. It makes every effort to reunite lost pets with their owners, but on any given day, 100 to 150 of its animals are up for adoption.
Local Impact: The APA established St. Louis’ first pet assistance program for victims of domestic violence as well as the first no-fee, petassisted activity program in the area for senior care facilities, psychiatric units, convalescent centers and children’s hospitals.
Get Involved: Volunteer as an adoption counselor, animal care assistant, clerical worker or a vet tech assistant. The 19th Annual Canine Carnival October 4 is a great place to learn more (apamo.org, 314.645.4610).
Coalition for Animal Rescue and Education
This rescue agency, no-kill shelter and vet facility in Hillsboro accepts dogs, cats and horses (and even a cow!), with the goal of placing them in good homes. Education is vital to its mission of eliminating the cycle of pet overpopulation and neglect, so even if you adopt from another organization, it’s a valuable resource.
Local Impact: Look for its C.A.R.E. Guidelines for Rescue and Rehabilitation seal of approval to ensure that other providers of companion animals adhere to its high standards.
Get Involved: Because 100 percent of donations
go to C.A.R.E.’s animals, volunteers provide everything from socialization and grooming of dogs and cats to bak