United Way plays matchmaker for volunteers, non-profits

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The United Way of South Mississippi is using the Internet to play matchmaker. It's not a dating service, but a section of the United Way website that links people who want to give of their time with non-profits who regularly need volunteers.

The United Way said the Volunteer Center site is all about variety and giving people dozens of options for where they'd like to volunteer. The idea is if people wok on behalf of the causes that interest them most, they'll be more likely to stick with it.

From stocking the snacks to greeting our men and women in uniform, USO Gulf Coast officials said most of what gets done is done by volunteers.

"The USO is a volunteer run program," said Director Felice Gillum. "By far, we could not implement all the programs and services that we do for our nation's military without our wonderful volunteers. While volunteers are needed, they're not always easy to recruit. USO officials said the United Way's Volunteer Center website has been such a valuable resource.

"The United Way has been a wonderful outreach for us to be able to link up and be able to have additional volunteers," said Gillum. "It's such an easy avenue for the volunteers to be able to go onto the United Way's website and see what kinds of things are available in the local community and they can pick based on what their interests are."

The Volunteer Center includes information about more than 160 agencies from the well known, like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, to smaller non-profits  that need volunteers just as much. While the number of people registering on the site to volunteer is growing, the United Way especially wants to reach a certain target group.

"We know that high school and college students are always in need of volunteer hours to complete for their classes or their curriculum, and the Volunteer Center is a wonderful resource for them. They can track their hours online and print off a volunteer resume to turn in," United Way's Juliane Molesworth said.

"We want young people to realize the importance of investing in their communities and taking advantage of the volunteer opportunities that are right at their fingertips," said Molesworth.

United Way officials said volunteer opportunities range from educational to feeding the hungry. Visit the United Way's Volunteer Center website here: http://volunteer.unitedwaysm.org/

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