Where to volunteer in NYC this holiday season

Posted On Thu, November 8, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, November 8, 2018 By In City Living, Events, Features, holidays

Image courtesy of feedingNYC

The winter holiday season is a time of overflowing bounty for so many. While giving thanks and exchanging gifts, it’s a fine opportunity to share the wealth, good cheer–and extra time off–with fellow New Yorkers in need. There are hundreds of ways to volunteer from now through the New Year (and beyond); the list below is a good place to start. Need an app to get anything done? DEED has you covered.

Photo via God’s Love We Deliver/Flickr

1. God’s Love We Deliver
The mission of God’s Love We Deliver is to improve the health and well-being of men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. Their efforts–the organization delivered its 20 millionth meal in 2018–include preparing and delivering nutritious, high-quality meals and emergency meal kits to people who can’t provide or prepare meals for themselves. Thanksgiving is an especially important day for meal delivery; they’re especially in need of volunteers with cars to help deliver meals on Thanksgiving Day. Check out all of their volunteer opportunities here.

2. Citymeals on Wheels
Citymeals on Wheels is committed to providing our homebound elderly neighbors with nourishing meals and vital companionship. In addition to delivering food, their holiday volunteer opportunities include sending cards as well as making cards and gifts for those in need.

The Grand Central Food Program, holiday volunteering nyc

3. The Grand Central Food Program
Sponsored by the Coalition for the Homeless, The Grand Central Food Program was started in 1985 after a homeless woman died from starvation in Grand Central Terminal. Since then it has become the largest mobile soup kitchen in New York; unlike traditional soup kitchens, the organization brings food and resources directly to people in need, delivering healthy meals throughout the city. They encourage volunteers to commit beyond the holiday season.

Photo courtesy of the Bowery Mission

4. The Bowery Mission
Since 1879, the Bowery Mission has served homeless, hungry, and poor New Yorkers by providing meals, shelter, and medical care. Though they’re best known for supporting their Lower East Side community, the organization now extends its reach to neighborhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx .On Thanksgiving Day volunteers will serve guests a Thanksgiving turkey meal along with a new coat and a “blessing bag” of hygiene items. Last year during Thanksgiving week alone, they served more than 732 turkeys, 7,000 pounds of potatoes, and 200 gallons of gravy. You can join nearly 700 volunteers to prepare and serve meals. You can volunteer throughout the year to mentor youth, help with regular meal service and more.

5. The Actors Theatre Workshop Holiday Program
The Actors Theatre Workshop has been providing New York City’s homeless children with a special experience through their 12-week afterschool theatre and education program, Builders of the New World (BNW); a series of holiday celebrations kicks off their upcoming winter session. They are currently seeking volunteers for the two-day holiday celebration and creative classes for more than 100 children living in temporary housing facilities. This year the events take place on December 11th and 12th. There are several ways you can lend a hand including helping to decorate the theatre, cooking a holiday feast and mentoring children in attendance. Learn more about these opportunities here.

6. Food Bank NYC
For over 30 years the Food Bank of NYC has been the city’s major hunger-relief organization working tirelessly to end hunger in the five boroughs. Their mission is to end hunger by organizing food, information, and support for community survival, and there are many opportunities for you to lend a hand. They’re seeking  volunteers to help distribute Thanksgiving turkeys and do holiday meal prep and service in several locations over the next few months. Check out the complete calendar of events to find a time and location. You can also purchase their cool holiday cards (including e-cards) to contribute.

7. Gobble Gobble Give NYC
This volunteer-run organization collects potluck meals, toiletries and blankets and delivers hot meals and care packages to the city’s homeless on Thanksgiving Day. Volunteer needs include kitchen crew, conveyor belt crew, food boxers, vehicle coordinators, drivers and cleanup. Kids are welcome if they’re with an adult. Volunteers are asked to bring a preheated potluck dish, toiletries or blankets to donate. Time slots are filled on a first come-first served basis. The event happens at the Church of the Intercession, 550 West 155th Street near Broadway on Thanksgiving Day. Find out more about volunteering here or on their Facebook page.

Photo: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

8. The Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
As New York’s largest emergency food program, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen serves a hearty and nutritious meal to 1,000 homeless and hungry New Yorkers every day, and they’re always looking for volunteers. You can also partake in their annual pre-Thanksgiving Fast-A-Thon on November 15th, in which participants pledge to eat only one meal that day as a way to raise awareness about chronic hunger and raise money for weekday meals and the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

9. City Harvest
City Harvest was founded in 1982 and was run entirely by volunteers who connected neighborhood restaurants to food programs serving people in need. City Harvest volunteers remain a crucial part of their operations, and there are many different ways individuals and groups can help. The organization needs help with everything from Mobile Markets to nutrition education courses, making this a great opportunity to start volunteering for the holiday season and beyond. Read more about City Harvest services and volunteer needs here.

10. St. Joe’s Soup Kitchen
St. Joe’s Soup Kitchen is an independent organization run completely by volunteers; they serve 400-500 meals every Saturday to New York City’s homeless community out of the basement of The Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village. The Soup Kitchen’s all-volunteer staff prepares well-rounded, nutritional meals, which are served between 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Doors are open to the public, no fees are charged for a meal, no requests for a donation are made and no questions are asked of those who walk through the doors. The organization has been operating for almost 40 years thanks to volunteers, local businesses, and the generosity of the local community. Volunteers are needed for both morning and afternoon shifts.

11. Neighbors Together
Bed-Stuy soup kitchen Neighbors Together is committed to ending hunger and poverty in the Brooklyn communities of Ocean Hill, Brownsville and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Their Community Café provides free, nutritious meals to meet the critical and immediate need for food in an environment that is safe and welcoming, feeding an average of 400 people each day. Find out how to volunteer here.

12. Greenpoint Church Dinner and Food Pantry
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Greenpoint Church will host a food pantry and a large community dinner at 136 Milton Street in Brooklyn. Both of these events run on volunteer power. If you’d like to sign up for one or more shifts please see the online signup. Volunteers can cook, set up tables and chairs, serve dinner or clean up. Kids over five are welcome. These fine folks host a community dinner every Wednesday and run a food pantry each Thursday, so your efforts don’t have to stop when ‘tis no longer the season.

13. FeedingNYC
FeedingNYC connects with families in need throughout New York City. Each year, FeedingNYC hand delivers nearly 3,000 Thanksgiving dinners. Thanksgiving dinners are delivered to families who are in partnership with Women in Need, Jewish Federation, Catholic Charities and City Harvest. How you can help: Donate–sponsor a meal box or make a recurring gift and get 10 percent off at Manhattan Mini-Storage. Volunteer–to pack and deliver thousands of Thanksgiving meals to local families and shelters.


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