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Volunteer or donate

You can make a difference when you volunteer at or donate to the VA Erie Healthcare System.

Become a volunteer

Join our volunteer team and experience the rewards of helping our nation’s heroes.  More than 450 people volunteered more than 71,000 hours in 2018, making our patients’ experience at Erie health care more enjoyable. You can, too. We’ll match your talents with one of our many fulfilling volunteer opportunities. 

To become a volunteer, call or visit us at the VA Erie Healthcare System’s Volunteer Program Office.

In addition to supporting Veterans in your area, you'll enjoy the following benefits as a VA volunteer: 

  • Free Canteen meals during shifts of 4 or more hours
  • Free parking at your volunteer facility 
  • Education opportunities, such as CPR training
  • Free annual tuberculosis test
  • Free annual flu shot
  • Job skills development
  • Job search opportunities

Whatever your interests, Erie health care has volunteer opportunities for you. 

Below are some of the ways you can help. Other assignments not listed here might be available as well. If you’re interested in volunteering, or have special skills to offer, please contact us so we can discuss how you can best help our patients. All volunteers must complete a background check.  

While some volunteer opportunities have specific times, most are flexible. We also have special short-term projects we need help with from time to time. 

Patient care 

  • Adult day health care: Help with patient escort, arts and crafts, exercise programs, and other recreational patient activities.
  • Coffee program: Prepare and serve refreshments.
  • Escort: Escort patients to medical clinics, chapel, barber shop, recreation, and programs.
  • Food and nutrition: Help patients complete or select menus. Open containers, cut food into bite-size portions, and feed patients during meal times.
  • Front desk: Greet outpatients, guests, visitors, and patients' families, answer phones, and transfer calls at the information desk.
  • Library: Help the librarian, help patients use special visual aid equipment, deliver books to patient rooms, and stock book racks.
  • Medical clinics: Visit with patients and run errands.
  • Musicians and guest speakers: Share your talents with our patients
  • Nursing: Help the nursing staff with patient care.
  • Recreation: Help with arts and crafts projects, play bedside games, help on field trips, show bedside movies, and help therapists with activities.
  • Speech and audiology (hearing): Motivate and encourage patients with their assignments.
  • Surgical waiting room: Greet families, serve coffee, meet with medical staff, and provide information to families.

Administrative 

  • Blood bank: Alphabetize paperwork and help with snacks.
  • Canteen: Work in retail store and cafeteria, washing dishes, wiping tables, and filling condiments.
  • Fleet assistance: Take government vehicles for a car wash and interior cleaning.
  • Grounds crew: Help groundskeeper wash equipment, trim landscape, and sweep area.
  • Office assistance: Type, file, answer phones, keep records, enter data, and call patients to remind them about appointments.
  • Pharmacy: Assist the pharmacist and deliver supplies to the patient care units.
  • Radiation therapy: Run errands and escort patients.
  • Radiology: Escort patients and file X-rays.
  • Transportation: Drive patients from their homes to VA medical centers.
  • DAV transportation: Monday through Friday 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Answer phones, make copies, charge smartphones, and schedule rides.
  • Fleet assistance: Monday through Friday. Duties include taking government vehicles for a car wash and interior cleaning. You must have a current driver’s license, complete a driver’s license background check, possess liability car insurance, and complete orientation.
  • Behavioral health: Wednesdays 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Make coffee in the lobby for Veterans waiting for the appointments. Escort Veterans to the BH V-tel room, dial in for them, and escort them back to the waiting area at the end of their appointment.
  • Volunteer coffee program: Thursdays and Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Make coffee in the lobby for Veterans waiting for their appointments.
  • File room: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Scan documents into medical files. You must complete training to receive computer access.
  • Pharmacy: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Work at the Pharmacy window to give out prescriptions. You must complete training to receive computer access.
  • Canteen retail store and cafeteria kitchen: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Wash dishes, wipe and wash tables. and fill condiment bins. Safety training provided. 
  • Volunteer drivers: Thursdays and Fridays. Drivers needed in the areas of Franklin, Oil City, Reno, Cranberry, and Rockland to transport patients to and from medical appointments in Erie and/or drop off in Meadville for transport to Pittsburgh. Applicants must pass volunteer driver physical, complete driver’s license background check, possess liability car insurance, and complete orientation.
  • Recreation: Every other Friday. Make popcorn in the lobby for Veterans waiting for their appointments.
  • Recreation community living center Unit 4: Visit Veterans one-on-one and take them outside, play games, show movies, and perform music.
  • Recreation community living center Unit 5 (hospice, short-term rehab, and long-term rehab): Perform music, assist with outside social programs, play games, and show movies.
  • Sterile Processing Service (SPS): Mondays 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Push or pull large and heavy carts, and make time-sensitive pickups from departments. 
  • Grounds: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Help grounds keeping staff wash equipment, and trim, clean, and sweep grounds. You must be able to push, lift, and bend. 
  • Patient escort volunteer: Thursdays and Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Transport patients in the medical center to department appointments.

If you’re a student who’s 14 to 18 years old, volunteer for us this summer. You can learn more about health careers, sharpen your job skills, meet fantastic people—and have fun.

Volunteer to make a difference

As a youth volunteer, you’ll help in many ways:

  • Serve coffee
  • Direct and escort patients within VA facilities 
  • Help in clinics
  • Help with recreation programs

Perks

You’ll qualify for these great benefits:

  • Summer youth certificate for 80 hours (or more) of service

  • Free VA summer youth volunteer polo shirt

  • Free lunch for 4 or more hours of service

  • Free parking

  • Invitation to join in special programs throughout the summer

How to join us 

If you're a student who wants to participate in our summer youth program, or you know students who might be interested, contact Karen O’Neal, the Voluntary Services Officer. 

Phone: 814-860-2454 

Make a difference in the lives of our Veterans through floor visits or sponsoring special programs at our community living center (CLC). Here’s your chance to join in the fun, friendships, and laughter by sponsoring one of our programs.

  • Bingo: Provide volunteers to run monthly bingo at 2:00 p.m. Saturdays. Please bring $40 in books from our Canteen for prizes.

  • Newspaper subscription: Donate newspapers for the residents of Unit 4. Recreation Therapy will determine how many subscriptions are needed.

  • Catered dinners: Bring at least 5 volunteers to serve dinners catered by local restaurants. 

  • Bowling or pizza parties: Buy a $50 gift card to Eastway Lanes (814-899-9855). You can also join the party and provide at least 4 volunteers to help us with this event.

  • Casino Day: Provide decorations, refreshments, and prizes. Your volunteers would be the dealers for games such as roulette, cards, and dice.

  • Claytopia Day: Buy a $50 gift card to Claytopia (814-836-7722). You can also join us while we paint pottery and bring at least 4 volunteers to help us on the special day.

Contact us

If you have questions about sponsoring an activity, please contact Unit 4. 

Natalie Woznicki
Recreation Therapist
Voluntary Services Officer
Natalie.Woznicki@va.gov 

Phone: 814-860-2475

Where we need extra help 

We’re always looking for more people to drive patients to their appointments at our medical center and clinics. To fill this important role, you must have a current driver’s license and car insurance, receive mandatory training, and pass a physical exam. 

Contact us

If you have questions about donating or volunteering, please contact the Voluntary Services program coordinator.

Karen O’Neal, CAVS
Voluntary Services Officer
Karen.D.Oneal@va.gov

Phone: 814-860-2454 

Or 

Carol Goodman
Voluntary Services Specialist
Carol.Goodman@va.gov

Phone: 814-860-2453 

In person: 

Voluntary Service Office 
Second floor
135 East 38th Street
Erie, PA  16504

Make a donation

Generous donations from people like you help us provide enhanced services to our patients. You can donate online, by mail, or in person.

Some people prefer to give money, while others prefer to donate items needed by our Veterans. We appreciate all forms of generosity.

Note: We don’t accept used clothing, medical equipment, cologne, mouthwash, aerosols, bar soap, large jigsaw puzzles, hardback books, VHS tapes, or lap robes. 

We welcome ready-to-go kits in large sealable plastic bags filled with trial-size or personal-size items. We appreciated the following items: 

Personal care

  • Body care products: disposable razors, hand sanitizer, lotion, soap, non-aerosol deodorant, shampoo, shower caps, shower shoes, and shaving cream or gel
  • Dental supplies: toothbrushes, toothpaste, toothbrush holders, floss, and denture adhesive
  • Disposable brand-name twin razors
  • Earplugs
  • Hairbrushes and combs
  • Nail clippers and emery boards
  • Reading glasses
  • Thermometers
  • Tissues

Clothing

  • Gloves (sizes L and XL)
  • Hats (winter hats and baseball caps)
  • Hooded sweatshirts (sizes L, XL, and XXL)
  • Jeans and pants (waist size 32 inches and larger)
  • Long-sleeve shirts (men's sizes L to 5XL)
  • Sneakers and shoes (men's sizes 7 1/2 and larger; Velcro or slip on)
  • Socks (white socks and diabetic socks) 
  • Sweatpants (with elastic waistbands)
  • Sweatshirts
  • T-shirts (men's sizes L to 5XL) 
  • Underwear (sizes L, XL, and XXL)
  • Winter coats (sizes L, XL, and XXL)

Assorted items

  • Books
  • Chess and checkers sets
  • Disposable cups, napkins, plates, forks, and spoons
  • EZ grip puzzles
  • Fleece blankets (twin size)
  • Gift cards for gas, groceries, movies, bowling, coffee shop, Walmart, Dollar Tree, Target, and restaurants
  • Magazines, 6 months or newer
  • Markers for art projects
  • Puzzle books, unused
  • Reading glasses (1.25 strength and higher)
  • Wheelchair cup holders
  • Word search books, unused (large print)

Medical social work in the basement 

Gift cards for emergency food pantry

  • Aldi’s grocery store
  • Walmart department store

Primary care clinics on first floor 

White socks 

  • Men and women’s (all sizes)
  • Diabetic socks (all sizes) 

Women Veterans Program 

Gift cards

  • Tops, Giant Eagle, and Wegmans for food or pharmacy items 
  • Gas for travel to appointments and events
  • Haircut and salon services
  • Walmart or other department stores

Other items

  • Women’s razors and travel-size women’s shaving cream
  • Blank journals

Surgical clinic on third floor 

White socks 

  • Men’s and women’s (all sizes)
  • Diabetic socks (all sizes)
  • Sweatpants (all sizes)

Community living center on fourth floor 

New clothing

  • T-shirts (sizes medium to 4X accepted; XL to 2XL most needed)
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts (sizes medium to 4X accepted; XL to 2XL most needed)
  • Lounge pants (sizes medium to XXL)

Comfort and personal hygiene items

  • Disposable brand-name twin razors
  • Denture cleaning tablets
  • Body wash (men’s and women’s)
  • Deodorant (non-aerosol)
  • Men’s body lotion
  • Puffs, Kleenex, or other soft tissues
  • Shaving cream
  • Combs
  • Nail clippers

Gift cards

  • Claytopia pottery studio
  • Dollar General and Dollar Tree for seasonal items or snacks
  • Sara’s diner
  • Eastway Lanes (bowling)
  • McDonald’s
  • Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or A.C. Moore Arts and Crafts
  • Walmart or Target department stores

Recreational activity items

  • Adult coloring books, colored pencils, and drawing paper
  • Canteen books for bingo programs
  • Erie Daily Times newspaper; please list subscription for community living center on fourth floor 
  • Portable handheld CD or MP3 players with headphones and batteries
  • Boom boxes for resident rooms 
  • Music CDs of any variety
  • 30- to 45-minute DVDs of classic TV shows, nature programs, educational videos, and musicals
  • Small seasonal or holiday items to place in 26 resident rooms
  • Subscriptions to Unit 4 for Popular Mechanics and hunting and fishing magazines
  • Small, paintable wooden craft items 
  • Acrylic paints and paintbrushes
  • Large-print crossword and search books, unused
  • Large black dry-erase board markers
  • Postage stamps
  • Coffee filters, plastic knives, and small paper plates
  • 300- to 500-piece, EZ-grip jigsaw puzzles