Love #ScaryVolunteering?

If you’re volunteering at a Haunted House this Halloween, VolunteerLocal invites you to show us your scary side – and you might just win $100. To enter the VolunteerLocal #ScaryVolunteering costume contest, simply:

1. Snap a photo of your ghoulish get-up and post it to Twitter with the hashtag #ScaryVolunteering.


2. We’ll pick the $100 cash prize winner on November 3rd. We’ll also feature your Haunted House on our website the following week.


Costumes will be judged on creativity, scare-factor, and hideousess (for starters).

Snap it, tag it, and win a cool hundo ($100).

Good luck, Scary Volunteers!


Denver County Fair

Like many things in Colorado, the Denver County Fair isn’t what you might expect.

Artist Mark Penner-Howell

Fair organizers take this enduring, all-American summer ritual for a spin – innovating on timeless fair traditions and building new exhibitions to surprise and delight. Look past the long-adored livestock judging, food trucks, local artists and carnival rides, and you’ll find a ‘Kitten Pavilion,’ the ‘hippiest’ homemade goods, and (new in 2014) the ‘World’s First Pot Pavilion’ at the Denver County Fair.

“Groundbreaking…unconventional…craziest county fair in America,” the website reads. “We hear it all the time! It’s how we roll in Denver – a city founded by pioneers.”

Copyright: Denver County Fair

The Denver County Fair, re-established in 2011, capitalizes on a burgeoning creative class in Denver, Colorado – folks working to establish their city as a harmonious crossroads between the traditional and progressive. Just look at the recently unveiled 2015 County Fair Poster (yes, that is a robot next to a tomato above a unicorn).

It’s all part of the County Fair’s mission, which seeks to identify Denver’s unique character and reflect it back to the community. “Not so different,” says Kristy King, Volunteer Coordinator at the Denver County Fair, “from that of Historic Denver, one of the nation’s premier historic preservation organizations.” A fact that has not gone unrecognized by those leading the selection process for Historic Denver’s annual Dinner and Awards Program. In 2013, the Denver County Fair was awarded the Community Preservation Award by Historic Denver.

Photo credit: Left Hand Brewing Company

King, who coordinates over 200 volunteers for this annual celebration of all-things Denver County, is a proud participant in helping to make every fair-goer’s experience unforgettable. She’s also a big believer in keeping volunteer management simple, streamlined, and efficient. “VolunteerLocal is a fantastic volunteer management solution!” she says. “I was able to convince (wasn’t hard) the fair leadership to upgrade to the Discover Plan ($200). Thanks again for your time and help!”

Keeping pace with Denver: VolunteerLocal is the hip and innovative solution to the old practice of spreadsheets, paper waivers and phone-trees.

Oklahoma State University – OSU Up Close

Copyright: The Breakfast Club

Selecting the right college after high school is a big decision. These days, students have a lot to consider: private or public? Two-year or four-year? Close to home or far away? These factors play a large role in helping collegiate hopefuls determine the perfect fit for their post-secondary education.

Oftentimes, once the choice has been narrowed down to three or four options, the research moves beyond pen and paper as many students sign-up for a guided campus tour of each contending school.

At Oklahoma State University, administrators, faculty and staff understand the gravity of this decision – and encouraging high-school students to visit their campus provides OK State an opportunity to show off what sets the ‘Cowboy’ experience apart. They’ve created a program called OSU Up Close, and it’s a sneak-peek inside campus life and OSU academics. Future Cowboys can visit a lab, sit-in on a class and meet with current students and faculty working in their areas of interest.

“Our group has found VolunteerLocal very simple and easy to use. We have received a lot of positive feedback and even users who are technologically challenged (aren’t we all?) have enjoyed it. It has also greatly reduced the amount of time needed to manage registrants who want to volunteer for Welcome Week.” – Megan Horton, OSU Communications

Photo Credit: Oklahoma State University

OSU Up Close requires the helping hands of student and faculty volunteers – from ‘Bus Greeters’ to ‘Wayfinders’ and, of course, ‘College Session Assistants’ to help represent each college of study at Oklahoma State. The University even provides bus transportation to campus for OSU Up Close from a number of Oklahoma communities. Students, faculty and alumni make wonderful volunteers for these events. They are the best representatives and biggest advocates for Oklahoma State University – and OSU Up Close gives prospective students a chance to test-drive the college experience of a lifetime.

Happy Volunteering – and Go Cowboys!

Georgia Southern University

How do you help over 2,000 new and returning students move into the residence halls in just eight hours? With volunteers, of course!

Copyright: Georgia Southern University

At Georgia Southern University, they call it ‘Operation Move-In’ – and it’s earned the namesake: the coordination and execution of this operation takes planning, a staff of dedicated coordinators and, of course, many helping hands.

“It’s a HUGE tradition at our University that is almost entirely volunteer-driven,” says Vickie Shaw, Assistant Director of Administrative Services (and Volunteer Coordinator for Operation Move-In) at Georgia Southern University. “Without our volunteers, it wouldn’t be possible!”

Copyright: Georgia Southern University

This year’s Operation Move-In leveraged the help of over 900 volunteers to get the job done. Using VolunteerLocal’s customizable registration form builder, the staff at Georgia Southern University were able to segment their volunteer sign-up pages by groups: Community Organizations, Faculty/Staff and Student Volunteers. This enabled Shaw and her team to collect data unique to each respective group – including Eagle ID numbers, prior experience at Operation Move-In, organization names and contact information for supervisors and/or department heads.

“Our staff was very excited and mostly sat with their chins agape at how robust VolunteerLocal is.” – Vickie Shaw, Assistant Director of Administrative Services at Georgia Southern University

Copyright: Georgia Southern University

Getting students efficiently and quickly checked-in and settled into the residence halls allows them to focus on enjoying the other social, educational and interactive Welcome Week events planned by the Georgia Southern administrative staff. Operation Move-In is a True Blue Tradition that celebrates the spirit of volunteerism and empowers students and faculty alike to take part in making the Georgia Southern experience a positive one.

Happy Volunteering – and Go Eagles!

University of Iowa – On Iowa!

You’ve been accepted. Now what?

Going to college can be terrifying and exhilarating all at once. In late August, new students arrive in droves – with bags, boxes, expectations and frazzled parents. Campus maps and freshly minted student ID’s in-hand, these bright-eyed initiates quickly find themselves surrounded by coolly intimidating upper-classmen and no-nonsense professors who won’t accept ‘getting lost’ as a valid excuse for tardiness. College can be an abrupt immersion into a completely foreign environment: new rules, new classrooms, a new school mascot and – perhaps most jarring of all – a strange new roommate.

Copyright: the University of Iowa

At the University of Iowa, however, first-year and transfer students are given a warm welcome to help alleviate those new-school-blues. This introductory, week-long celebration includes campus tours, goal-setting workshops, tools to succeed in the classroom and a pep-rally themed run-down on Hawkeye traditions. It’s called On Iowa! and it culminates in a Convocation Ceremony on the Pentacrest, followed by dinner with UI President Sally Mason at the Block Party on her front lawn. Completing the On Iowa! new student orientation includes committing to the IOWA Challenge, which tasks students with embodying five Hawkeye principals: Excel, Stretch, Engage, Choose and Serve. Did we mention the free t-shirts?

“Three cheers for VolunteerLocal!” – Kate Sojka, Director of New Student Programs, Office of Retention at the University of Iowa

Copyright: University of Iowa

On Iowa! requires the helping hands of over 650 volunteers each year – and with VolunteerLocal’s customized registration form, the volunteer coordinators for this event can collect data unique to Iowa’s campus volunteer recruitment, including student organization names, student ID numbers and ‘Squad Colors.’ Branded integration into the University of Iowa’s website design makes the sign-up process seamless for student volunteers, and the Group Signup feature allows On Iowa! volunteers to bring friends along for the experience.

Happy Volunteering – and Go Hawks!

Twin Cities In Motion

Twin Cities In Motion (TCM) is a non-profit corporation that organizes and directs the annual Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – a Top 10 U.S. Marathon – in addition to many other races throughout the year.

A marriage of wellness and social good, Twin Cities In Motion aims to promote healthy lifestyles through running events and community outreach. They accomplish this most notably by donating a portion of every race dollar to youth, wellness, charities and the sport of racing. This year, Twin Cities In Motion raised more than $800,000 with its charity partners. Oh – and we love their manifesto.

“My favorite feature is the instant email confirmation that is sent after registration – it provides the volunteer peace of mind that they are registered, and lets them know we are excited to have them join us!” – Kelli Bartholow, Operations & Volunteer Manager at Twin Cities In Motion

Copyright: CT Ryan Photography

Twin Cities In Motion recruits over 6,000 volunteers each year. “Our most notable and longest running event is the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon,” says Kelli Bartholow, Operations & Volunteer Manager. “We host a total of 21 events throughout the year, and all of them require the helping hands of volunteers.” Bartholow adds, “We literally couldn’t run without them!”

Twin Cities In Motion partnered with VolunteerLocal in 2012. The automation, reporting, and simple webpage integration have helped Bartholow and her team hit a competitive stride. “I’ve been very impressed with the ease and functionality of VolunteerLocal,” says Bartholow. “The reporting tools are very user-friendly and they assist in the management of our volunteers.”

Copyright: Competitive Image

Bartholow coordinates the volunteer members of the 350-strong TCM Association, in addition to the thousands of community volunteers who turn out to support these events. “I would certainly recommend VolunteerLocal to others who are looking for a volunteer management system.”


The start of the school year can mean lots of things: new school supplies, new homeroom teachers, even new clothes. For many in Des Moines, however, it’s most importantly a marker for their childrens’ annual health screening, thanks to a program called Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a back-to-school health fair that provides free physicals, dental checks and screenings for local students entering grades K-12.

“Ideally, every family would have a relationship with a family doctor,” says Brianne Sanchez, the event organizer and volunteer coordinator at Jumpstart. “But we know that isn’t always the case. Jumpstart makes sure that every child has access to a healthy start to the school year.”

“You don’t have to be a doctor to volunteer at Jumpstart (although we do have an important role for licensed providers),” says Sanchez. “The majority of our volunteer needs are for hospitality roles: Helping families with registration, making sure the lines are organized and moving smoothly, running supplies and supporting fellow volunteers.”

Jumpstart offers behavioral and mental health screenings, physical check-ups and options for after-school programming. Every attendee receives a free toothbrush, toothpaste and information on how to stay healthy, in addition to a list of community partners who provide school supplies to students in need. Those who qualify can even receive free vaccines.

“Students who face health barriers often struggle with school,” explains Sanchez. “Participation in regular physicals help identify students in need of additional services and attention, and connects families in need with healthcare resources.”

This year’s Jumpstart takes place on July 26th, from 9am – 5pm at East High School in Des Moines. The Jumpstart program is a collaborative effort of Des Moines University faculty, staff and students, the Polk County Health Department, and – of course – volunteers. Want to get involved? Click here to volunteer today!

Waste Warriors Assemble!

What’s a party without waste? Awesome, that’s what. Take the challenge this Saturday, April 19th to find out how to have a good time without waste at Des Moines’ first ever waste-free festival: the Recycle Revolution.


RecycleMe Iowa was founded after Chief Recycling Officer Ciji Mitrisin saw a lack of opportunity for apartment residents and local businesses to live waste-free. A few conversations, brainstorming sessions and nine months of hard work later, the Recycle Revolution was born.

Get to the festival for free: VOLUNTEER!

“It’s an Earth Day event that also immediately implements an earthly solution,” says Mitrisin. “Music and arts are two great ways to inspire the community. Recycle Revolution is our grassroots way of exhibiting just how much the community wants to become more eco-friendly, given the right tools.”

Don’t be confused, this is no ordinary revolution. The family-friendly event begins with a block party – completely waste free (yep, you heard that right). The fun starts at noon on East 5th Street between Grand and Locust in the East Village. Special perks to those who bring a hard-to-recycle item to donate: $5 off concert admission, 1 free food or drink token, 1 raffle ticket, or five free UP/DOWN tickets.

Designing your very own recycled tee is just one of the many fun and innovative ways Recycle Revolution is keeping the community waste free. A local screen printer will be onsite to print your designs on recycled tees from Goodwill. Committee members even did some experimenting to come up with a recycled spinning paint machine to make spin art. Recycled paint is used on you guessed it, recycled paper, with a repurposed fan. Get in the groove by heading over to the Jam station with some instruments made from recycled materials.

Recycle Revolution leaves no waste. Nothing. None. Not only will activities be waste-free, but vendors like Local Yocals and Mo’ Rub will serve up delicious menu items using only compostable and recyclable materials. Through innovative ideas, Recycling Revolution is out to create Zero Waste Warriors.

“Zero Waste Warriors are our volunteers who manage zero waste stations at Recycle Revolution, but they are so much more,” says Mitrisin. “Your title and work connection becomes who you are; how you view trash. For our cause, it’s saving the planet through teaching the difference between compostable and recyclable items.”

At 6:00 p.m. the block party moves off the street for a concert at Wooly’s featuring: SHEL, Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos, James Biehn Band and River Glen. Tickets for the concert can be purchased on Tikly for $15.00 prior or $20.00 the day of the event.

Hy-Vee Road Races

The second annual Hy-Vee Road Races at the Drake Relays combines three major distance competitions, a 5K race, a 10K race and a Half Marathon – all in one day.

On Sunday, April 27th, Hy-Vee Road Race runners will storm the streets of downtown Des Moines (earning this event it’s namesake). Runners will start and finish their respective courses at the Drake Stadium, home of the Drake Relays. The Hy-Vee Road Races Half Marathon boasts the largest prize-purse in the world, $80,000, with a total prize-purse of $120,000 for all three races combined.

What makes this event truly special, however, is the impact it has on the Greater Des Moines community. “The Hy-Vee Road Races puts Des Moines on the map,” says Michael Zimmerman, a Hy-Vee Road Races Organizer. “We are fortunate to have a company like Hy-Vee that’s willing to offer a huge prize purse, and willing to work with Drake to bring in this great talent to Des Moines.”

The Hy-Vee Road Races brings together athletes of all types. “There isn’t a separate race for the pros,” says Zimmerman. “Everyone stands at the start-line together, and everybody crosses the same finish line.” In addition to the notoriously large prize-purse for the top finishers of each race, this event offers a lot of good prizes for mini-categories, which Zimmerman believes helps to invigorate the local running community. “Des Moines is really a health-centric community,” he says. “And not just in the way that encourages everybody to healthy, but to make the city itself this mecca of fitness.”

The Hy-Vee Road Races is powered by a rock solid volunteer force. “That’s another great thing about putting on events in Des Moines,” Zimmerman adds. “You get so many people who might not be able to participate in the event – but still look to get involved through volunteering.” Whether it’s distributing medals at the finish line, holding it down as a course marshal or working the gear bag station – volunteers make it all happen for the Hy-Vee Road Races.

There are plenty of volunteer spots available – sign up today and get involved in this spring’s biggest, boldest celebration of athleticism!