ave you heard about caring days? At Coverflex, all new employees receive a handbook outlining, among other things, the benefits they are entitled to. Caring days are one of them. “You will be entitled to three days of assistance per year. You can use these days to work on side projects that support causes with a positive impact on our society,” reads the document. In other words, employees are entitled to three days per year – paid and in addition to vacation days – dedicated to volunteering activities.

This is a highly valued benefit by our team, but we know it's not always easy to implement. Why? Because most associations or charities require regular attendance, excluding options for those who can only offer sporadic presence.

If your company also offers you this possibility but you face the same difficulty in finding entities or projects that accept your availability limitations, this article is for you. We have prepared a list of projects where you can volunteer occasionally and sporadically, both in person in Lisbon and Porto, and remotely.

1) Food Bank

Keep an eye on the upcoming Food Bank campaigns, which usually happen twice a year, typically in May and November, across the country. You can help collect food at the doors of supermarkets or at the Food Bank warehouse, sorting the collected food. Sign up here.

2) ILGA Portugal

ILGA Portugal – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Intervention also accepts occasional volunteers to help with communication (design, multimedia, video, photography, and social media), event production, translation, LGP interpretation, and logistics – some tasks can be done remotely – as well as sporadic volunteers to support the Lisbon Pride parade and LGBTI+ Pride parades. Learn more about volunteering at ILGA here.

3) Fruta Feia

Fruta Feia, a non-profit cooperative that fights against food waste due to the way fruits and vegetables look, relies on volunteers, whether regular or occasional, to prepare food baskets. The preparation of baskets usually takes place on weekdays from 2:30PM to 5:00PM in Lisbon. Find out more on the Volunteering Exchange website.

4) Serve the City

If you want to give your time and, above all, a bit of yourself, your personal story, and experience, as well as skills and talents, Serve the City has opportunities, both regular and sporadic, on weekdays and weekends, during the day or evening, with children and youth, homeless people, or isolated elderly. Some of these opportunities, mainly in Lisbon and Porto, require just a couple of hours, while others require a whole day. Community dinners, organised every two weeks with over a hundred socially vulnerable people; community gardens, where socially vulnerable individuals sow, care for, harvest, and enjoy horticultural products, creating relationships and a sense of belonging that also foster personal and social development; and "Solidary Minutes," which offer isolated elderly people periods of conversation, attention, and support with any task, are some of the projects this entity develops. But there's more.

5) Serralves Foundation

Implemented in 2002, the volunteer program at the Serralves Foundation represents the institution's openness to society, based on principles of participation, solidarity and cooperation, complementarity, and gratuity, among others. Various options are available, from welcoming the public, receiving school groups, supporting gardening practices and the library, to collaborating on celebrations, among others. Volunteers choose their area according to their skills, availability, and areas of interest. Besides general volunteering, the Foundation, located in Porto, also organises occasional actions, mainly during scheduled events, such as Serralves in Festa, the Autumn Festival, or the Bioblitz.

6) Lisbon Zoo

At Lisbon Zoo, volunteers are assigned to work areas according to their interests, knowledge, and availability. Providing support to the zoological area (such as cleaning, public information, or managing entries in some enclosures) or collaborating in specific and occasional events (such as promotional or thematic actions, conducting surveys, or administrative tasks) are some examples of activities during the volunteer program, where there is no physical contact with animals. All candidates should love animals and nature and be in good physical condition. You can find more information here.

7) Brigada do Mar

Created by a group of volunteers, the Brigada do Mar (Sea Brigade) has been developing biodiversity protection and environmental intervention actions since 2009, with a special focus on decontamination and beach cleaning along the Portuguese coastline outside concession areas. The association organises various actions throughout the year, usually requiring only prior registration. To follow the events organised by this association, follow the Brigada do Mar's Facebook page. You can also pay attention to the Facebook pages of the Movimento #sempalhinhas (#noStraws Movement), which aims to raise awareness among citizens, entities, and restaurants about the environmental impact of plastic straws, and Little Hero, which seeks to raise awareness among Lisbon's population about the problem of urban litter.

Besides these seven associations where you can volunteer occasionally, we suggest you inquire at your local City Hall. There, you will surely get more information about possible volunteering actions you can participate in. For example, a city-wide litter collection campaign or a specific event where your skills may be needed might be happening soon.

Similarly, it might be a good idea to visit the nearest church and ask the same question. Typically, parishes hold small events at certain times of the year to raise goods and funds for families in need. Help may be needed to organise a fair or bake cakes, for example.

If we still haven't convinced you and you prefer to undertake a more 'tailor-made' volunteer action, making the most of your availability, skills, and circumstances, you can also organise your own volunteer project. Investigate if you can help someone in particular, and in what way; if there's an association or institution experiencing some difficulty. Surely, the needs are immense: you just need to identify them and enjoy your caring days.