Hands in a heart shape.

BY United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, reposted from United Way

Release date: June 30, 2020


For 27 years, United Way brought together thousands of people to volunteer on one day known as Day of Caring. The demand was so great for Day of Caring that we could no longer contain it to one single day. Our solution — Summer of Caring!

Although volunteering will look a bit different this year due to COVID-19, we put together eight weeks of prompts and activities that you can choose from while remaining safe and healthy at home. 


  1. Weekly Themes - Every week during Summer of Caring will have a theme and include prompts and activities that align with the theme. 

  2. Variety of Ways to Engage - Instead of only doing one volunteer project you can choose your own adventure and select the weekly activities that most interest you. You may even be inspired to come up with your own (if you do make sure you share it with us on social media using #soc2020)!

  3. Flexible Schedule - Complete an activity at a time that is convenient for you. There is no time limit or schedule for you to follow. 

  4. Stay Safe and Healthy - All activities have been designed with your health and safety in mind. Please follow the CDC guidelines and NYS regulations when participating in Summer of Caring. 

In addition to our weekly activities, you can visit VolunteerWNY.org to see an up to date list of volunteer opportunities that are available at local organizations and a list of critical items that you can donate. We have also included activities that you can complete every week in response to COVID-19. 



Included every week during Summer of Caring are two activities that are designed to directly address the immediate needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Face Mask Drive - Local nonprofits need your help with homemade masks for their staff and clients. To help meet this critical need, we have created the Homemade Mask Drive, in the hopes of providing much-needed masks to the underserved in our community. CLICK HERE to get started. 
  • Food Drives - FeedMore WNY needs our help now more than ever. Equal access to food is an issue that will continue throughout the pandemic. Visit feedmorewny.org to learn how you can help. 



1. Get to know United Way of Buffalo & Erie County (UWBEC). Find us on FacebookInstagramTwitterLinkedIn, and YouTube

2. Sign up for UWBEC emails and Stay Connected all year. 

3. Download your Summer of Caring Bingo card and play along over the next eight weeks. Get your BINGO board.

4. Visit VolunteerWNY.org to see what volunteer opportunities are available in our community.  Create your profile to set your interests and preferences. Click here to create your profile on VolunteerWNY.

BONUS: Learn more about Advocacy and what it means to United Way by watching the video below. Over the next eight weeks, we will include opportunities for you to advocate on issues that impact our entire community. Click here to view the video.



1. Become a volunteer tax preparer. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides low- and moderate-income individuals and families with free, reliable tax preparation assistance. Here in Erie County, VITA clients received over $12 million in refunds. These refunds are important because families can use the money to buy groceries, pay bills, and build emergency savings. We are already recruiting volunteers for the next tax season. 

Click here to hear from past VITA volunteers and learn more.

Click here to sign up to volunteer.

2. Advocacy Action: The emergence of COVID-19 caused more families to experience economic strain and the demand for free, reliable tax preparation services is increasing.  In order to meet that demand, VITA sites across the country need an additional $12 million in emergency funding. With our easy to use tool let your elected officials know you want them to support additional funding for VITA services locally. Click here to contact your elected officials.

3. Financial Resources: We’re fighting to put every person in Buffalo & Erie County on a path toward financial well-being. That starts with access to services, job training, credit counseling, and money management programs. Explore the resources we have shared to help get on the path to financial well-being. 

My Smart Money: My Smart Money™ is an interactive web site that offers simple, useful tips and tools to help all of you manage your money. You can get smarter about your money by taking a quick and easy quiz to get a clear picture of your financial situation, and where you could improve and download tools that are geared to help tackle your specific money challenges.  Click here to visit My Smart Money.

COVID-19 Financial Resilience Hub: The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center offers suggestions and resources to manage personal finances and buffer yourself against the financial emergency caused by COVID-19.




1. Grassroots Gardens (United Way Funded Program Partner) - Grassroots Gardens of WNY is a dedicated group of community gardeners and activists. Their mission is to share knowledge, power, and resources to grow healthy food, heal systemic harm, and strengthen neighborhood connections through community gardens. What's a beneficial insect and why are they good for your garden? Go on a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood to find these good bugs and learn more about how to attract them to your garden. Go on a scavenger hunt!

Here are several more activities you can do during Summer of Caring to support a healthy environment. Get started using the buttons below. Learn how to compost. Grow your own food. Learn to hand pollinate your garden.


2. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper - Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper protects and restores our water and surrounding ecosystems in Western New York for the benefit of current and future generations. They transformed their weekend-long Spring Shoreline Sweep into the Summer Sweep. Get outside and complete a solo sweep and do your part to keep our local water clean. Get started using the buttons below. Start your solo sweep. Watch a DIY solo sweep tutorial. Cleanup safety infographic.

In addition to participating in the Summer Sweep, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper supplied a few other ways you can help the environment. Check them out below. Learn how to install a rain barrel. How to properly plant a tree. Tips to reduce single use plastics.


global goals.

Sustainable Development Goals:

1. No poverty

2. Zero hunger

10. Reduced inequalities