HandsOn Twin Cities kicks off its annual volunteer expo at the Mall of America this weekend, giving Minnesota do-gooders a crack at “speed volunteering” or a chance to explore longer-term volunteer work.
More than 80 nonprofit groups will have information tables in the first-floor rotunda and four corners of the mall. Maps and directions are available in the rotunda.
Name your cause and find a group making a difference. Affordable housing. Domestic abuse. Animal welfare. Senior issues. Mentoring youth. Environmental protection.
“We want to challenge people to get out and volunteer, and the expo is a great way to do that,” said Rachel Jackelen, program coordinator at HandsOn Twin Cities.
People also can try their hand at “speed volunteering.”
Make fleece dog toys for Helping Paws of Minnesota, which trains service dogs to assist people with disabilities.
Pour laundry detergent into small bags for clients of Aeon, a Twin Cities nonprofit that provides affordable housing.
Make greeting cards for children facing medical and socially isolating conditions through Heartland Camp for Kids. Tie fleece blankets for children with cancer for the Miracle of Mitch Foundation. And more.
The expo, now in its ninth year, was designed to help Minnesotans connect with nonprofit partners they might otherwise never know about, and to match their skills and interests with their volunteer work.
Kristin Schurrer, executive director of HandsOn, said the event has drawn a good crowd.
“The mall estimates we drive another 10,000 people to the mall, above and beyond their normal Saturday traffic,” said Schurrer. “I think that’s great.”
The Mall of America has been a terrific location for finding volunteers from the Twin Cities and beyond, she said. Hosting the event in the dead of winter also drives up numbers, said Schurrer. “It’s really cold,’’ she said, which means more people may be indoors shopping.
The expo runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.