3 fun & meaningful volunteer activities in Rotterdam

Buy me a coffee

I’d never known volunteering could be this fun and creative before I participated in the social activities in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Contributing to the society doesn’t mean that you always have to give money to the poor people, instead, you can also share your love, effort, and sincerity with those who are in need.

With this blog post, I hope you’d join me to bring the happiness to the children who come from deprived families, breast cancer patients, and lonely elders in Rotterdam.

You may need this: 3 perfect cycling routes in Rotterdam (with photos & maps)

*Pack birthday boxes at the ‘Candy Factory’

Do you know that about 61,000 children in the Netherlands don’t have a chance to celebrate their birthday every year? Stichting Jarige Job was founded to help the kids and their parents to change the ‘sad fact’ above. Instead of giving money, they cooperate with the Food Bank and many organizations nationwide to bring the birthday boxes to thousands of families with kids in the Netherlands every month.

A birthday box has a value of €35 and it contains a lot of things that a child can use to celebrate his/her birthday, for example, cake mix, balloons, candies, decoration items, Merci chocolates, and plenty of gifts. Before all the volunteers started packing the boxes, the founder of this foundation had invited everyone a coffee and candies and then made a short presentation to inspire the helpers.

candy-house-rotterdam

To be honest, I deeply respected this action of the founder from Stichting Jarige Job. He explained how and why they started doing this, who the partners and sponsors are, what the volunteers could do with all the gifts and boxes. I was completely amazed at his story and admired their effort to the community, especially to the children who always deserve love and happiness.

I asked him a question that why they built their workplace colorful, creative and joyful like this. I wondered if the children come here to visit and play in this ‘candy factory’ (I named this place ‘candy factory’ because it always gave me a sweet and childhood felling). He said that they wanted to create a special place first to relate themselves to their jobs, second to inspire the volunteers, and last but least to impress the partners when they come to visit Stichting Jarige Jobs. I bet that they are 100% successful to achieve this goal!

princes-house

Their business partners and sponsors are Post NL, T-Mobile, Perfetti van Melle, Unox, Stabilo, etc. I know they’ve put in a great deal of effort to reach out to these renowned companies. Last year when I just started volunteering here for the first time, I heard that Disneyland Paris just called them to ask “How can we help you and the kids?”. WOW, it’s Disneyland! Can you imagine that a small non-profit organization in the Netherlands was approached by a big name like that? Absolutely impressive!!!

Another time I packed the birth boxes with the employees from Saleforce (a huge international cloud computing company). They came to help as a group of volunteers. If you would like to have a meaningful activity with your team, please don’t forget to consider this! I’m sure that you’ll have so much fun and feel peace in your soul.

The last time I went to the ‘candy factory’ was a few weeks ago this year. I was so blissful to see how far they’ve changed and grown. After excited listening about their current projects and the upcoming plans, I rolled my shirt sleeves up to continue helping them to collect the gifts and pack the boxes.

Here are some more photos of the coolest workplace in Rotterdam:

creative-workplace-volunteer

How to be a volunteer at Stichting Jarige Job:

  1. Create an account on Nederland Cares.
  2. Check their calendar for the activity “Packing birthday boxes for children of deprived families” (usually on Tuesday every 2 weeks).
  3. Click “Join us” button at the right bottom of the page to receive a confirmation email.
  4. Get a reminder email one day before the event.
  5. Go to the ‘candy factory’ to have fun and help packing birthday boxes.

Remember to check how to get there in advance.

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*Give your heart, by making a heart

This activity is especially suitable for anyone who would like to practice Dutch and at the same time helping the breast cancer patients. You wouldn’t have to go to a hospital but a community house in Charlois area (Rotterdam South) to meet the lovely elders and give them a hand with their project.

volunteer-rotterdam
Sitting in a pretty room with 10 lovely grandmas

I found this project on Airbnb experience and I thought it was a brilliant idea to connect the tourists and expats to the local life like this. So I tried to participate in this social impact experience one time and I had no doubt that I should help them to reach more volunteers.

Firstly, I was welcomed warmly by the social coordinator of this center. She was really enthusiastic to introduce me about De Nieuwe Nachtegaal and then brought me to a bright room.

After that, I sat in that pretty room with 10 lovely grandmas. Coffee and tea were served quickly and then they showed me how to make a pillow in a heart shape. While making the pillows I had a great conversation with all of them in Dutch. They spoke slowly so I was easy for me to follow the language as a beginner/intermediate Dutch learner.

Last but not least, I learned that these handmade cushions are very soft so they help to ease the pains of the breast cancer patients. So far they’ve made 600 cushions a year. More volunteers, more help to the patients.

If you would like to meet and talk to the local people in Rotterdam Charlois, you should join this creative project. And you may figure out that this is not the only project you like.

volunteer-charlois
These pillows will be sent the breast cancer patients to ease their pains
making-heart-pillow
Look how cute they are <3!!!
DIY-heart-pillow
Yayyyy!!! I just made one <3.
volunteer-for-breast-cancer-patients

How to be a volunteer at De Nieuwe Nachtegaal:

  1. Create an Airbnb account with my referral link (if you don’t have an account yet)
  2. Check the schedule on their Airbnb page
  3. Select the date and pay €1 to join
  4. Get a confirmation email from Airbnb
  5. Go to De Nieuwe Nachtegaal to ‘give your heart, by making a heart’

Remember to check how to get there in advance or contact this center via Airbnb for any questions.

*Happy walk with the elderly people

Do you know that there are a lot of old people in the Netherlands have no one to talk and can’t go out to have some fresh air? That’s really sad to know:(!!! And Nederland Cares, a social organization, organize different activities to cheer up the life of the lonely grandpas and grandmas.

With this happy walk, you would go to a nursing home and help the elderly people in the wheelchairs to go out and enjoy the sunshine. Basic Dutch is preferred. If you don’t speak Dutch at all, you can still join. They will make sure there are enough Dutch speaking people around to help you out.

happy-walk-rotterdam

The grandma I walked with was 92 years old and she was so happy on the way. She sang a song, she pointed at the fruits and flowers on the road. Although my Dutch was limited at that moment and I couldn’t talk a lot to her, I felt the happiness and optimism from her.

In a nursing home in the Netherlands, the elders are taken care of by the doctors and the nurses. There also a library, hair salon, canteen, and open space for them to enjoy the social life with each other. I wish when I’m old, I could stay in a nursing home with my friends and hang out with them in the wheelchairs.

rotterdam-volunteer-activity
help-the-elderly
nederland-cares-group
This photo was taken on my 25th birthday. They gave me more energy to start a new age:).

How to be a volunteer at Nederland Cares:

  1. Create an account on Nederland Cares.
  2. Check their calendar for the activity “Happiness walk with the elderly” (usually on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday at different locations).
  3. Click “Join us” button at the right bottom of the page to receive a confirmation email.
  4. Get a reminder email one day before the event.
  5. Go to a nursing home to help the elders.

Remember to check how to get there in advance.


After all, I didn’t feel like I had to be responsible for the society where I live, but having fun, helping people, making friends and extending networks. There are many ways to explore a city and being a volunteer is the most meaningful thing that everyone can do:).

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Hi! I am Nhu, a Vietnamese girl living in the Netherlands. I have been living in 3 countries and traveled to 23 countries and still counting. Hopefully, with my blog, I can spread the inspiration to get you moving. If you already own itchy foot, then here comes the useful tips and advice on the interesting destinations that you may visit someday. Stay tuned!

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