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Give and take: Local businesses offer alternative volunteer opportunities

Volunteering is a great way to meet people while also making a difference in the community. Coupled with the fact that it looks good on a resume, some companies and organizations provide benefits to volunteers such as free food and movie or concert entry.

The following volunteer opportunities are alternatives to the more popular community service outlets available.

The Tampa TheatreContact: Tara (813) 274-8287

Built in 1926, the Tampa Theatre was named one of LIFE Magazine’s “America’s 21 Wonders” in 2007 and is a landmark for Tampa citizens. The venue holds 650 events throughout the year, relying on volunteers to ensure they run smoothly. Tampa Theatre volunteers, affectionately deemed ‘The Gargoyles,’ help out in the office, assist on special projects and serve as ushers and Tampa Theatreologists – the theater’s version of tour guides.

Once a volunteer becomes a Theatreologist, they give 10-minute tours and answer questions before events.

The Tampa Theatre staff is very generous, providing incentives for volunteers to devote their time.

“Special projects come up occasionally,” said volunteer coordinator Tara Schroeder. “Sometimes I give free movie tickets in exchange.”

Two free movie tickets are also given for every hour of office work completed. Those volunteering as ushers or Theatereologists also have the option to remain and see the movie or concert for free.

“I saw so many shows and movies for free, particularly movies that weren’t shown in other theaters,” said USF sophomore Rebecca Smith, a former Tampa Theatre volunteer. “I just really love the history of the theater, especially the rumors about it being haunted.”

For more information and a volunteer application, visit or contact Tara Schroeder.

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)Contact: Joel Bates or Esteban Tarré or (813) 987-6370

Across the street from campus on Fowler Ave., MOSI has countless volunteer positions available. From greeting guests to becoming a docent and leading tours, MOSI volunteer coordinators make it their goal to find each voluteer’s niche.

“Volunteers need to feel that their needs are being met as well (as the organization’s),” volunteer coordinator Joel Bates said. He said that no matter where a student volunteers, he or she “needs to not be afraid to assert themselves … ask and you shall receive.”

Accommodating coordinators are just one of MOSI’s perks. Once volunteers complete 100 hours of service, they earn memberships for themselves and their familes. Coordinators also hand out free passes to volunteers who exceed their assigned duties. MOSI honors volunteers with a Volunteer of the Month position and occasionally gives prize packages, including gifts and passes from partnership companies, such as AMC Theatres.

For more information visit or contact Joel Bates or Esteban Tarré.

Lowry Park (813) 935-8552 ext. 296

Lowry Park Zoo is an obvious place for animal lovers to volunteer. Opportunities include “zoo beautification” such as painting and gardening, assisting teachers as a summer camp intern or working alongside zookeepers as an animal department volunteer. Animal department volunteers receive free zoo tickets and can stay to enjoy the zoo after their shifts.

“We also have a number of volunteer opportunities across a range of zoo departments, if someone has a very specific interest,” said Rachel F. Nelson, director of public relations. As benefits, all volunteers are invited to quarterly social events hosted by the zoo. Long-term volunteers – those with at least 6 months of service – are invited to the “LOVY” (Lowry Outstanding Volunteer of the Year) awards dinner.

For more information and volunteer applications visit

WMNF 88.5Contact: Carrie (813) 865-8261

WMNF is Florida’s first community radio station and has been running for more than 25 years. There are three FUNdrives at WMNF that help raise money for the station. Volunteers are asked to answer phones, assist marathon supervisors, prepare mailings and help with similar tasks at these events.

Volunteer coordinator Carrie Core said, “Some of Tampa’s best restaurants also feed us during our fundraisers, so volunteers get to meet like-minded people as well as get nice, full bellies.”

Help is also needed at musical and public affairs events to handle tickets, emcee, take photographs and sell WMNF and artist merchandise.

After a two-hour or longer shift, volunteers receive free admission to the events, including Tropical Heatwave, which requires more than 200 volunteers.

For more information, contact Carrie Core to attend a volunteer information session. A volunteer application can be found at

Salvador Dali MuseumContact: Cindy Hanks(727) 823-3767 ext. 3014

The famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali said, “The problem with the youth of today is that one is no longer part of it.” What better way to prove him wrong than to volunteer at his namesake museum? Volunteer opportunities at the Dali Museum include assisting with museum admissions, completing office work or selling memberships and tickets for special events such as Surreal Fridays and Film Series.

Docent programs are also available for those interested in leading tours at the museum. Jim Universal of Visitor Services confirmed that volunteers could enjoy the museum and films for free after fulfilling their duties.

“As an art student it’s beneficial to volunteer at any museum because the art world is all about making connections. The more people you meet at galleries and museums, the better chance you have to get your art recognized,” fine arts major Bella Samreny said.

For more information, check out the Volunteer View newsletter at or contact Cindy Hanks.