How to Help if You’re Under 18

Due to issues of privacy and confidentiality, all volunteers at COTS must be at least 18 years old — but there are still plenty of ways you can help COTS!  School and youth groups continually amaze us with their creativity in finding ways to support COTS’s mission.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

      • PARTICIPATE & RAISE FUNDS FOR OUR ANNUAL COTS WALK, which takes place on the first Sunday in May. You can organize a team to solicit pledges and participate in the walk, line up donations to support our walkers, or help with logistics before or during the big day. It’s not only a great community event and a LOT of fun, but it’s an opportunity to learn more about COTS and raise awareness about homelessness in our community. Walk participants walk the route a homeless person might take every day to programs and services around downtown Burlington. You will visit shelters and see where the pledges you raise are put to work. 1,500 walkers, 3 miles, 1 reason! Want more information?
      • Organize a drive for any one of the items listed on our Wish List.  Having access to essential household supplies and personal care items can help take the stress off of a family’s tight budget.
      • Organize a drive for special activities for families, like movie passes, bowling passes, or gift certificates for restaurants, bookstores, and recreational activities.  Feeling isolated from the cultural and recreational life of the community is very hard on families living in a shelter.
      • Have a “potluck for COTS” or some other get-together and ask your guests to donate to the “cabin fever” fund. Giving a cash donation to COTS pays for an unexpected need that’s not covered in our budget, such as a gift for a child’s birthday or a pair of shoes for a baby just learning to walk.  Throw a party and invite your friends to give — every dollar helps!
      • Invite a COTS speaker to your class, faith group, workplace or club and help raise awareness.  Keeping yourself and others informed about community problems moves us closer to long-term solutions.  Showing your interest in the issue of “homelessness” gets other people interested too.
      • Encourage your school or youth group to create its own fundraiser for COTS.  The opportunities are endless!  In the last year we’ve had classes hold bake sales for COTS, gingerbread house fundraisers, Valentine’s Day rose sales, and in one school, a teacher even shaved off half of his beard to raise money and awareness for COTS!
      • Call or write to your legislators about the need for low-cost housing in our communities.  Many working people can’t afford the cost of housing in our area.  Letting public officials know you are concerned makes them concerned too.
      • Write a letter to the editor about the lack of low-cost housing in your community and the growing homelessness among families.  Educating the general public about housing needs for families can help bring about long-term solutions to ending homelessness.  Public opinion is a powerful force for change.

Got other ideas?

We’d love to hear them!

Please e-mail volunteer@cotsonline.org to tell us your story or to brainstorm more ways to help!