Volunteer time buys donated goods: A pop-up shop idea for student groups

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People volunteer their time. I can’t find any research that tells me how many people donate their time or how much time people donate. (If you know of data, please email me at sfrantz@highline.edu or sfrantz@nmsu.edu.) I am going to go out on a limb and say that almost everyone volunteers at least a few minutes of their time in some way at least once a month.

When we think of volunteering, we may think of committing a few hours a month to a particular cause. For example, people donate their time to make audio recordings of written material in the public domain (Librivox). Our local arthouse theater is run entirely by volunteers who do everything from selling tickets to selling popcorn (Fountain Theater, Mesilla, NM). As a college student, I volunteered a few hours a week at a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center (Alice Paul House, Indiana, PA).

While all of these activities require some level of training and commitment, there are plenty of less formal ways we can donate our time. For example, during this summer’s heat wave I visited a friend. I saw that he had a cooler on his porch with a sign that read “Cold water. Help yourself.” He puts it out for any delivery or service personnel who come through his neighborhood. It’s a small time (and financial) commitment, but it’s certainly a volunteer activity.

I imagine that there are plenty of organizations that would be happy to have people volunteer for just a bit of time with no major time commitment required. Perhaps they would love to have a few people spend one hour—not one hour a week, just one single hour—pulling weeds or picking up trash on their organization’s property. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clearinghouse for these kind of volunteer activities. But what if there were?

In the summer of 2022, a one-day pop-up shop appeared in Carlisle, UK. The shop was filled with donations from local businesses, but the prices weren’t in British pounds. They were in volunteer time for local charities. As a member of the initiative said, “It seems people have really responded to this idea because it broke down some of the barriers to volunteering. People do want to make a difference and help charities in their community, but it is not always clear how to do that or who to speak to – the Kinder Shop really connected people with those opportunities” (Gillespie-Wright, 2023). Martha Winn “picked up some impressive wooden chopping boards, vases and a bottle of gin and will be volunteering to help at Eden Valley Hospice’s torchlit procession in October” (Cumbria Crack, 2022).

There is plenty of research that shows the value of giving to others. Recreating a pop-up Kinder Shop in your community could be a valuable project for your psych club or your Psi Beta or Psi Chi chapter. Students could share with patrons how giving increases our own happiness (think infographic handouts or posters) while connecting community members and students to volunteer opportunities.



Cumbria Crack. (2022, June 22). Unique Carlisle shop where you just pay with kindness. https://cumbriacrack.com/2022/06/22/unique-carlisle-shop-where-you-just-pay-with-kindness/

Gillespie-Wright, K. (2023, May 16). The shop where the currency is kindness. Positive News. https://www.positive.news/society/kinder-shop-where-the-currency-is-kindness/


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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.