It’s the time of year when many New Yorkers count their blessings and want to give something back in return—and all 8 million of us could use a helping hand now and then! Many food banks, shelters, hunger foundations and dozens of other organizations need volunteers to help everyone celebrate the holidays this year. We rounded up some incredible holiday volunteer opportunities in NYC that give back to the community, but be sure to sign up fast—slots often fill up for Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks ahead of time. Just remember—volunteers are needed year round!
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Holiday volunteer opportunities in NYC
Hey, dogs and cats like turkey too! Simply show up and take a pooch for a stroll between 9:30am and noon Tuesday through Saturday and 5:30 and 8pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. There are only about 20 dogs, so be sure to get there early on holidays! If you’re more into Fluffy than Fido, you can help and hang out with the cats from noon to 4pm Tuesday through Friday—just call and check that they’ll be available the week of holidays. You can also donate online or bring in old towels and blankets.
If you have a car, this organization, which feeds 18,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers annually, is ready to put you into action. On Thanksgiving, they need 25 vehicles, each with two people, to head to a senior center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, then deliver meals. Go to its website to fill out the volunteer form for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s opportunities, and it'll be in touch.
A clone of L.A.’s holiday meal delivery program, GGG welcomes 500 volunteers to gather at the Church of Intercession in Harlem and assemble takeout meals for 200-plus predetermined families and indiviuals in shelters or low-income housing. Sign up online to put together meals or drop them off via car (please don’t show up at the church unless you’re registered), and if the volunteer capacity happens to fill up, you are welcome to donate cooked turkey, vegetables or desserts or any canned goods, as well as clothing, toiletries, toys and children’s books.
Have a car? Perfect! GLWD’s (nonsectarian) mission is to serve food to those too ill to shop or cook for themselves, and they host 1,100 volunteers each Turkey Day to pick up meals at designated locations and deliver them. There are still delivery slots available at centers in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, so sign up through email—and quick! Come December, you can deliver meals for Winter Feast on Christmas Eve morning or decorate the delivery bags beforehand. Email email@example.com to register.
This soup kitchen and food pantry hands out hot meals daily and bundles of groceries weekly—that’s about 30,000 pounds of food each week! Masbia’s locations in Rego Park and Flatbush can use helping hands for cooking, food prep and meal serving for the Jewish High Holidays, Thanksgiving, Hannukah and beyond. Email to sign up to volunteer Sundays through Thursdays at one of Masbia’s four centers in Brooklyn and Queens. You can also show up on Thanksgiving if the spirit moves you; just know the center may already have enough people on hand. Fill out the volunteer application online, and remember, you can always donate food as well! Keep in mind Masbia is a kosher organization, and if you’re not familiar, fresh produce is always a good idea. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.