Frequently Asked Questions
Volunteers are vital to the work of Caitlin’s Smiles. We normally provide 1,000 Bags of Smiles and 10,000 craft kits each month to healthcare facilities in 9 eight states and the District of Columbia – and these are prepared by our wonderful volunteers! We hope the following answers to Frequently Asked Questions about volunteering for Caitlin’s Smiles will be helpful. If you have additional questions, please call or email us.
Q: Who can volunteer for Caitlin’s Smiles?
Anyone elementary school age/ability or older. We will tailor the activities to the abilities of the volunteers. Children age 13 years and under must be accompanied by a parent or grandparent.
Q: Can people with special needs volunteer for Caitlin’s Smiles?
Caitlin’s Smiles welcomes volunteers with special needs who are accompanied by an aide. The aide must assist the special needs individual during the entire volunteer time and assist their client with tasks.
Q: Do you take “walk-in” volunteers?
No. We require all volunteers to schedule their time with us prior to coming in. Our volunteer center is often busy and our staff is limited. You can call or email to schedule your time with us.
Q: Do you have weekday volunteer hours?
We have limited volunteer hours on weekdays. Please contact our office by phone to discuss times.
Q: Do you have evening and weekend volunteer hours?
Normally, we do. However, because of the pandemic, we do not have evening and weekend volunteer sessions. Check our website Events calendar for upcoming volunteer sessions.
Q: What do your volunteers do at these craft sessions?
Most of the time, our volunteers assemble little homemade craft kits for hospitalized children. These go into our Bags of Smiles and into boxes of assorted craft kits. We send out over 100,000 craft kits each year, so our volunteers are very busy with those! Sometimes, we have other projects that our volunteers do, depending on our needs.
Q: Do I need to bring anything when I volunteer at Caitlin’s Smiles?
We ask that all volunteers bring a box of ziplocking baggies – snack, sandwich, or quart – to donate when they volunteer. If you want to bring additional items, terrific! You’ll find our Wish List on our website at www.caitlins-smiles.org. Please note that any craft supplies or books you donate must be NEW, non-religious, and in their original packaging.
Q: Can I make craft kits at my home/club/school/business?
Definitely! We have several instruction sheets for craft kits on our website on the Our Services page. Look for the Download Info buttons.
Q: Can I get craft supplies from Caitlin’s Smiles to make the crafts at my home/club/school/business?
We ask that you provide the supplies you need to make craft kits at your site.
Q: Do you have other kinds of activities for volunteers?
Yes, we do! We ask our new volunteers to start with making craft kits, but for those people interested in taking the next step or doing different types of work, we have other opportunities based on your abilities and interests, and our needs. Discuss these with our Volunteer Coordinator.
Q: What should I wear?
Casual or school wear is fine for volunteering in our office. If you have a Caitlin’s Smiles T-shirt, you can wear that. If you are part of a group, you can wear your group T-shirt. If you are representing Caitlin’s Smiles at a public event, we ask that you wear a Caitlin’s Smiles T-shirt unless otherwise instructed.
Q: Can I schedule a group to volunteer at Caitlin’s Smiles?
(At this time we are not scheduling groups.) Yes! We prefer to have your group volunteer during one of our monthly craft sessions (see above), but if that doesn’t work, we may be able to arrange a different time. Email or call us with the following information:
- Your date and time preferences
- Number of people in your group who will volunteer
- Special needs in your group, and number of aides accompanying your participants
- If children or youth, their age range and the number of adults accompanying the group
Q: Can I fulfill community service requirements at Caitlin’s Smiles?
We do not accept volunteers who are looking to fulfill court-mandated community service hours. Others who are doing community service for school, teams, places of worship are welcome to volunteer through normal volunteer sessions or at home. However, available times are limited – if you need hours in a hurry, we cannot help you.
Q: Can I do my senior project for school with Caitlin’s Smiles?
Absolutely! You can schedule time to volunteer in our office, hold a craft drive at your school, plan and do a fundraiser — or maybe something totally different! Please call and/or email us to discuss what you are planning to do.
Q: Can I pass out Bags of Smiles to children in the hospital?
This is probably the #1 request we get. However, hospital personnel distribute our bags to the kiddos to ensure the safety and health of the children. If you wish to work directly with hospitalized children, contact the nearest hospital for their volunteer opportunities.