It’s the season of gift-giving, list-making, and shopping frenzies. Everyone seems to have more pep in their step, and all the neighborhoods are lit up with bright lights. For most, this is the best time of the year. However, for many families, it can be a very difficult time. So this year, why not give back to your community and spread the holiday cheer?
Volunteering is rewarding, and you and your family can donate to needy families by volunteering time and lending a helping hand. It just takes one smile, one gesture, one moment to make someone’s season brighter.
Below is a list of organizations that are looking for volunteers this holiday season and throughout the year. These organizations have plenty of volunteering opportunities for adults and children, so your whole family can get involved and make a difference, together.
We also encourage you to check out the Long Island Volunteer Center, which is a great resource for nonprofits in your area.
Toys of Hope
Toys of Hope is dedicated to helping children in need. Though it may be best known for collecting toys to give to children during the holiday season, Toys of Hope has actually created many programs to provide goods, services, and assistance to the families who need it most all year-round. With no paid employees or professional fundraisers, the charity is able to ensure that 100% of the donations it takes in go toward its cause.
Ronald McDonald House of Long Island
New Hyde Park
The mission of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island is to provide a home away from home for families, so they can be near their seriously ill children who are receiving treatment. Volunteers are always welcome and needed. Little Hands Helping Little Hands is a volunteer program specifically for children between ages 6 and 16, who come to the facility as a school group or organization and bake goodies for families staying at the house.
The Book Fairies
This nonprofit collects and distributes books for children and adults throughout the metro New York area. On the second Sunday of every month, volunteers (older children, preferably middle-school age and older, and their parents) are needed to help in their warehouse, refilling boxes with books for teachers. The organization often needs help sorting books and has other volunteer positions that need to be filled.
Long Island Cares–The Harry Chapin Food Bank
You can help fight hunger on Long Island with Long Island Cares, Inc.—The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Student Week of Service takes place December 27-28 for students ages 11-13 and 14-19; and December 29 for students 11-19. Register by sending the child’s name, phone number, age, desired date, and the name of a parent/guardian to Billy Gonyou at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are plenty of other ways families and kids can volunteer, so check out the organization’s website for more information.
Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk
During the holiday season, families can help out Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk in a number of ways. For example, you can donate individual items and/or gift cards, or all the fixings for a delicious holiday meal. For the Adopt-A-Family program, your family can fulfill all or part of the wish lists of children and families, helping to make their holidays a little brighter.
Guide Dog Foundation
There are many opportunities to volunteer at this nonprofit that provides guide and service dogs and training (at no charge) to people who are blind or visually impaired. Kids 16 and younger can help out by hanging puppy raising recruitment flyers and organizing fundraisers and toy/towel drives. Kids also can take a tour of the Smithtown campus and learn more about what the Guide Dog Foundation does and what they can do to help.
Nassau and Suffolk
People of all ages can help make wishes come true by organizing a fundraiser for children who are facing serious illnesses. Make-A-Wish Foundation's educational program, Kids for Wish Kids, helps children organize and manage fundraising campaigns at their schools, youth groups, etc., under the guidance of parents and teachers. Check out the organization’s websites for Nassau and Suffolk counties for tips, advice, and additional information.
Helping Hands Rescue Mission
Huntington Station, NY
Helping Hands Rescue Mission coordinates holiday meals and community events, including free meals, toys, and more. During the winter and Christmas seasons, free coats, mittens, sweaters, hats, scarves, socks, blankets, and gloves may be offered to adults and children in need.
Catholic Charities of Long Island
Numerous social services are available across Suffolk County, Nassau, and all towns. While emergency financial aid is offered, special holiday programs can offer free home-delivered meals to seniors, clothing, toys for children, and other support.
F.E.G.S. Health & Human Services System
F.E.G.S. Heath & Human Services System organizes food drives, donates baskets of groceries and gifts, and delivers the items to families in need for the holidays.
Toys for Tots-Suffolk County
This charity program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year. These toys are then given as Christmas gifts to needy children in the Long Island community.