Friday 5: Volunteering for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is next week, marking both the beginning of the holiday season and volunteer rush. Many people take the time during this period to give back to their communities which means places like food pantries and kitchens stop accepting volunteers weeks before the holiday. Now, with the fallout of Hurricane Sandy, there has never been a greater need and more of a response here in New York. Despite the rush, there are still many organizations that need volunteers to help out now more than ever. In lieu of Homeless and Hunger Awareness week, we’ve compiled an easy list of organizations that are still looking for volunteers not only during Thanksgiving, but throughout the holidays and beyond.

Brooklyn based Greenpoint Church has an open call for volunteers throughout the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Volunteers are invited to help with food preparation and pantry organization during one of the time slots listed on their website. There is no prior registration necessary, so volunteers can just drop in.  The Church is also posting more volunteer information to their facebook page.

New York Cares is one of the largest volunteer organizations in the city. Their special holiday initiatives  notes all of the various winter projects that need facilitation and support. Volunteers can participate in their annual coat drive, their ‘Winter Wishes‘ gift program, as well as search for various holiday opportunities through the site.  NY Cares does request that volunteers undergo a one hour training session before working with them on direct service projects. If you can’t make a session, but still want to help out during the holidays, the organization is forgiving this rule if you want to help with the ongoing Sandy relief efforts.

photo courtesy of New York Cares

NYC Service is an initiative through the Mayor’s office which connects New Yorkers to volunteer opportunities throughout the five boroughs. Their website keeps a rolling list of both one time and ongoing projects to get involved in. Volunteers can search by general interests, date, or any skills  they can offer to their community.

photo courtesy of God’s Love We Deliver

Finally, two organizations, God’s Love We Deliver and Citymeals, have meals on wheels programs that need volunteers to help deliver food to home-bound residents over the holidays. God’s Love We Deliver focuses on providing healthy food to men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS. Volunteers can register to help distribute food at one of their centers or deliver food throughout Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens. Citymeals is an organization that provides over 1.8 million meals to over 16,500 elderly New Yorkers through their meals on wheels program. They will need volunteers to assist in providing meals to residents in Brooklyn and Queens, which includes meal preparation, serving, and delivering. Volunteers are required to register through their Thanksgiving meal delivery application prior to working with Citymeals.

There has never been a more apt time to volunteer in New York. Our neighbors need our help, especially during a time where goods and services are uncertain. Hopefully, the increase of volunteerism that we’ve seen in the past weeks will only gain momentum and last far beyond the holiday season.