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New York Cares
Photograph: Courtesy Rebecca Davis

Holiday volunteer opportunities in NYC

Give back and help others with these holiday volunteer opportunities in NYC

Written by
Jillian Anthony
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Recent events at home and abroad have New Yorkers counting their blessings and reflecting on what matters most. New Yorkers may be a testy bunch, but we help each other out when it counts. Help is always needed somewhere, and there are plenty of ways you can volunteer to make a difference. As the seasons change and talk turns to Thanksgiving and Christmas, consider signing up for holiday volunteer opportunities in NYC.

It may be overwhelming to think about where to start, but even small actions can make a big difference. Volunteering is important any time of year — anything from meal delivery or building projects to distribution of donations, mentoring or helping out at pet shelters — but some organizations experience increased demand for services over the holidays. Here is a list of organizations that offer important services during the holidays. It’s a great place to start, but remember that help is needed throughout the year, not just the holidays, so consider adding a regular volunteer shift to your routine.

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Holiday volunteer opportunities in NYC

If you have a car, this organization, which feeds 18,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers annually, is ready to put you into action. As always, the organization will need as many hands as possible during holiday season, so be sure to sign up 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 on Thanksgiving 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, 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.

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Have a car? Perfect! GLWD’s (nonsectarian) mission is to serve food to those too ill to shop or cook for themselves, shlepping over 6,500 dinners each Turkey Day all around the city. 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.

This soup kitchen and food pantry hands out hot meals daily and bundles of groceries weekly. 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.

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