Here's to Holiday Helping!
New York is a city that cares, which means there are several charities and other organizations throughout the city that are designed to help people and animals in a variety of ways. If you are looking for a way to give back this holiday season – or throughout the entire year – here are a few organizations that you might want to consider.
In addition to volunteer with or donating to these organizations, there are many other ways that you can get involved in your community if you so desire. For example, you can join your local Community Board, start a Block Association or simply check in on your neighbors. You can learn more about how to start a block association with the help of tips provided by the Citizens Committee for New York City.
The Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC) offers volunteer opportunities for both dog and cat lovers. Dog lovers can take dogs for walks, while cat lovers can volunteer in the cat loft to help with socializing the cats.
Citymeals on Wheels provides elderly and homebound New Yorkers with meals and companionship. In addition to delivering meals, you can also volunteer to chat with the seniors, write letters or participate in other activities throughout the year.
GrowNYC works toward improving recycling in apartment buildings, establishing community gardens in needy neighborhoods and completing other eco-friendly tasks. The organization, which also helps to fund the city’s, is always in need of volunteers and donations.
Established in 1990 by veterans of ACT UP, Housing Works helps homeless people in New York who are living with HIV or AIDS. To support this cause, you can donate clothes, books, furniture and other items to the organization, which will then sell the items through one of its many thrift shops throughout the city. 100 percent of the proceeds from the items sold in the shops goes toward achieving the organization’s mission.
Volunteers at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs work with the city’s immigrant communities in a variety of ways, including helping them sign-up for IDNYC cards or assisting with translation services.
The New York Cares coat drive accepts gently used and clean coats to distribute to those in need. Coats can be dropped off at one of many different drop-off locations throughout the five boroughs.
The New York City Parks Department relies heavily on volunteers to help keep the city’s vast parks system looking beautiful. Volunteer opportunities are available in all five boroughs.
SAGE assists senior members of the LGBT community through a variety of programs. Among these is Friendly Visiting, which involves spending time in person or over the phone with those who may not have a support system in place.
University Settlement provides integrated services to assist the entire family, with services ranging from early childhood education to mental health services and adult literacy programs.
Kids can help too! Make it a family affair. Kids get bored in what seems like the first day of vacation. Lets find some constructive ways they can help:
The New York Foundling has been active on the charity scene in NYC since its founding in 1869. It provides social services to foster children throughout the five boroughs, Westchester, and Rockland Counties, and Puerto Rico. Families can get involved by organizing a drive to collect goods for The Foundling. Always needed are goods to create baby bundles (diapers, blankets, onesies, bottles, blankets) and healthy smile kits (tooth brushes, floss, toothpaste).
This nonprofit that feeds hungry New Yorkers has plenty of volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Your family can organize a food drive at your office, school, or place of worship with tools provided by City Harvest. Kids can spread the word and get their friends to donate, too.
This well-known organization doesn't slow it's home-building efforts over the winter. On the contrary, December, January, and February are the busiest months. Volunteers are needed on building sites in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island on Wednesdays-Fridays. Most Habitat sites have an age minimum of 16 years old, though there are ways to volunteer with the group's other programs for those as young as 14. If you're interested in bringing a group from your school or church, there are opportunities for volunteers ages 5-25
Macy’s is again partnering with Make-A-Wish to help make the dreams of critically ill children come true. Support its work by having your child write a letter to Santa and deliver it to the mailbox in Santa Land. For every letter Macy's receives through December 24, the company will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. Can't get to Macy's? You can also write and send your letter online.