The Local Voice

Volunteer Oxford: Linking service-oriented individuals to non-profits (By Hugh Jones, from TLV #163)


Oxford, Miss. (TLV) – For just over a year now, Volunteer Oxford (VO) has been linking service oriented individuals to non-profits in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community. In that time 5,726 volunteers have been connected with 52 partner organizations, accumulating 23,000 hours of service, according to the VO Director Kelly Shannon.

VO was born in July 2011, from a collaborative grant-writing effort made by members of the Oxford Park Commission, the City of Oxford and The University of Mississippi. The group secured a three-year grant from the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, with an allotment of $40,000 annually.

VO is housed under the Oxford Park Commission as a branch of the city government.

The Oxford-Lafayette Human Society has been working with VO since the organization was started. Melody Copp, Development Director at the Oxford-Lafayette Human Society says that the relationship between the organizations has been very successful. The humane society works with around 4500 animals each year, with a paid staff of only 12, and relies heavily on volunteers in sustaining its operations.

For the annual July 4th Stars and Stripes 5k Run, VO secured 20 volunteers for the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society. “If it were not for them, it would not have been the best organized run so far,” Copp said.

In addition to bringing new volunteers to the humane society, VO helps facilitate the organization’s wish list, which Copp says is integral to stocking the supplies needed to operate the shelter.

“Last week we needed kitty litter, so Kelly put it up on the wish list and the bags started rolling in,” she said.

One of the newest local VO partner organizations is the Oxford Food Pantry, a totally volunteer operated, grocery style food service for community members in need. Though the partnership between the two organizations began just two weeks ago, at least one volunteer has already been hooked by the pantry.

Mary Edith Walker, a volunteer who facilitated the connection between VO and the Oxford Food Pantry, said that in just one week she learned to use the website and attended the Ole Miss Community Service Agency Fair. At the campus event, the pantry became acquainted with many students who are now organizing food drives to supplement the program’s waning resources and growing clientele.

“This could help us a lot,” Walker said. “I think it’s a marvelous idea.”

In addition to the primary funding, VO also receives $3,500 from each of the following; The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, the City of Oxford and The University of Mississippi. Current funds are secured through July 2014, and VO looks to develop itself as a self-sustaining institution in the years to come.

“There is a need for an organization like ours to help streamline volunteers and community service in the Oxford and Lafayette communities,” Shannon said.

Shannon encourages all interested parties, volunteers and agencies, to open an account online at

Other ways to connect yourself or your organization with Volunteer Oxford — call at 662.236.6662, send an email to, or visit them at 107 Courthouse Square, Oxford MS 38655.

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