Looking for the perfect volunteer opportunity this holiday season? Here are many options for you and your family.
The holidays are fast approaching and it’s this time of year that makes so many of us feel like we could be doing more to help those in need. For the last 20 years my family and I have volunteered on Thanksgiving and Christmas at The Ronald McDonald house in NYC cooking and serving food to the children and families who were sadly spending their holidays away from home. My adorable Jewish parents were the token Mr. and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Day and seeing the smiles on these children’s faces will live forever in my heart.
So now that I’m a mom of a 13 and 9 year old it’s extremely important to me that I teach my children to give back. So if you’re anything like me, which I bet many of you are, you’re now scrambling to find the most suitable option for you and your family to give back and help another family in need of some love this season.
Here’s a list of some great volunteer opportunities for adults and kids of all different ages.
Community Food Bank of NJ Volunteers are always needed to help sort and repackage food to deliver to families in need across New Jersey. They also need people to help collect food, including turkeys, at sponsored community food drives around the state. The Food Bank's 2018 Turkey Drive will take place Saturday and Sunday, November 18-19 where you can donate frozen turkeys and hams, as well as holiday trimmings. Visit cfbnj.org/turkey for more information and to find collection sites near you. For General volunteer opportunities: http://www.cfbnj.org
The Market Street Mission-Morristown The Market Street Mission provides clothing, shelter, and meals to thousands of people in Morristown. They accept many types of donations and is always in need of volunteers to serve lunch and dinner daily. A great way to get into the holiday spirit here is by donating or wrapping gifts for children and adults at the Mission’s annual Toyshop event, or giving a little through their online holiday gift catalog. The Mission also accepts homemade holiday baked good donations to make meals merrier throughout the season.
Volunteer Coordinator: (973) 538-6337
Their mission is to provide necessities such as food, toiletries and clothing to those who are homeless or in dire need in urban communities. They also provides backpacks and school supplies to children in shelters in several areas as well. Volunteers go on weekly runs to local areas and bring food as well as other essentials to those in need.
Volunteers can also host birthday parties for sheltered children which is perfect for anyone looking to get their own kids involved. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to register and find what works for you and your family or call 908-273-0176. http://bridgesoutreachnj.org
Color A Smile-Global
The only mission of 'Color a sSmile' is to spread smiles. It’s that simple. Volunteers draw pictures for senior citizens, soldiers overseas and anyone in need of some love and a smile. Thousands of drawings are sent out each month to those on the Color A Smile’s mailing list, with more than 1,000,000 drawings sent out during the program’s 25-year history. This may be the easiest way for you and your family to do something together without even leaving your home. Just choose a drawing from the website, colorasmile.org,sign up with your name and age and send your drawing to PO Box 1516, Morristown, NJ 07962. What a great way to get your kids involved and feel good as a family. It's a no-brainer, right? For more info: 973-540-9222
During the holiday season, Jersey Cares gives volunteers the opportunity to give back directly to a child in need through their annual gift-giving program, Frosty’s Friends. The goal of Frosty’s Friends is to spread holiday cheer to children in shelters or transitional housing facilities during the holiday season. Volunteers can sign up to receive Frosty's Friends letters from NJ kids. All you have to do is decide how many letters you and your family would like to answer, (each letter comes with about a $25-$40 gift commitment) and then register to request your letters. You can always request more letters later too! Volunteers can provide a child between the ages of 3-16 with what may be the only gift they receive for the holidays this year. (Letters will be sent to volunteers in the order in which the requests are received.)
Send Gifts via Amazon Wish List
For volunteers who wish to get involved with Frosty's Friends without receiving letters, they also have a brilliant Amazon Wish List that will help them fulfill additional children's gift requests. Amazon Wish Lists are updated weekly.
Contact: 973-533-1993 jerseycares.org
The Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center-Morristown
The Community Center provides meals in a warm, safe and caring environment, free of charge, no questions asked, to anyone who comes seeking nourishment.’ Volunteers at the soup kitchen can serve lunch, sort fresh produce for their 'Free Farmer's Market' or help out at many of their local fundraisers. New volunteers are required to attend a work activity and a brief orientation before volunteering - that way you can you learn about all of the different opportunities! There are many opportunities here for kids ages 12 and up too. The Community Soup Kitchen also accepts many donations such as canned foods, clothing, and blankets.
Lets not forget our furry friends this holiday season too! Local animal shelters have holiday wish lists, too.
Liberty Humane Society-Jersey City Always in need of kitty litter, cat and dog food and toys, blankets, and towels. Check out their amazon wish list this holiday season. Even pets deserve their own amazon list!
Always in need of volunteers, they have many categories for you and your family.
Fostering animals is their number one need.
Transporting animals: occasionally need people to transport animals to and from veterinarians or adoption events.
Fundraising events: occasionally need people to help out at fundraising events, and are always looking for people skilled in coordinating events.
PAWS is always looking for dog biscuits, leashes, dog and cat food, toys, and cleaning supplies. Lets all show these pets some holiday cheer by donating some items!
St. Huberts Animal Welfare Center-Madison, NJ
Their annual tree lighting tradition to celebrate your pets and homeless animals in need is right around the corner on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 5-9 pm. You and your family can create tribute ornaments for your beloved pets, past and present, and hang them on their Tree of Love or you can also choose the ornament of a shelter pet and place it on the tree. Shop for Holiday gifts at Buddy’s Boutique and from local craft vendors who will be located throughout the shelter.
St Huberts recently rescued almost 800 animals evacuated from Puerto Rico and are in need of pet supplies. Check out their amazon wish list to buy a treat for a special animal this holiday season too. https://www.sthuberts.org
For additional holiday volunteer opportunities, check out the NJ listings on Volunteer Match.
Have another great volunteer opportunity? We'd love to hear about it!