This article analyses charity shop volunteering in the UK as an instance of individual commitment towards organisations devoted to combating suffering. Drawing on semi-structured interviews focused on motives, the paper argues that some respondents found in volunteer work a way of regaining meaning, structure, and belonging after experiences of social dislocation such as retirement and bereavement. The transition from social dislocation to ontological security via volunteering illustrates the way in which ‘the social’—as expressed in fellowship, laughter, work, organisations, and institutions—moderates charitable practice. From this perspective, volunteering appears as a relational, processual, and affective practice of care; and as a sympathy catalyst—an institution that facilitates interpersonal sympathy exchanges and support for compassionate goals. The paper endorses a view of human subjectivity which takes seriously both human vulnerability and resilience—victimhood and agency—as well as the relevance of suffering and flourishing for social action. In so doing, the paper sheds light on the link between individual biographies and the institutionalised efforts to alleviate strangers’ suffering that Natan Sznaider has termed ‘public compassion’.