15 places to volunteer this holiday season
Looking to make a difference by being a volunteer or making a donation during this season of giving? While this year has been dramatically different than in years’ past, here are 15 places in the Valley where you can either volunteer this holiday season or give a donation that goes towards helping others.
The Salvation Army
Since it was founded in Arizona in 1893, The Salvation Army Metro Phoenix programs continue to provide services to the homeless, working poor, children, youth, addicted, elderly, and abused. They provide homeless and family services, youth and senior programs, an Emergency Family Shelter and an Adult Rehabilitation Center.
Help The Salvation Army fulfill their promise to America of “Doing the Most Good,” by volunteering. This can include sorting and packing donated items or participating in interactive activities with children and other volunteers. The Salvation Army has an array of holiday volunteer opportunities including signing up to be a bell ringer at a Salvation Army Red Kettle stationed outside of grocery stores and businesses Valley-wide, hosting a Christmas Angel Tree or participate by taking a tag and purchasing a gift or donating.
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance
Priding themselves as the first food bank in the world, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance founded in 1967 in Phoenix tackles hunger in Arizona through food distribution, children’s feeding programs and a community kitchen. They work with 500 partner agencies in 13 counties to distribute food across Arizona. Or you can volunteer at the Kids Cafe, which prepares and packs up to 5,000 cold meals daily that are sent to after school programs around the Valley by working on assembly lines, making sandwiches and filling meal bags.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Since 1946, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has fulfilled their mission to feed, clothe, house and heal individuals and families in the community. They have various volunteer opportunities available from working in thrift stores sorting and organizing donated items, special projects, assist at the food warehouse sorting items donated by grocery stores and food drives, or help prepare, serve and clean-up at one of their five dining rooms in the Valley. During the holiday season, you can also participate in their Adopt-A-Family Christmas Program, which allows individuals and families to “adopt” families in the Phoenix area by providing Christmas gifts and meals.
A Place to Call Home
Founded in 1998 with the intent to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with special needs and disabilities, A Place to Call Home serves families through their locations in Mesa, Tucson and Prescott Valley. Their services and programs include foster care and developmental homes, adoption certification, training and respite and placement services. You can get involved by providing assistance with set up and decorating activities at agency events, and around the holidays, host a toy drive to provide gifts for children in foster care, or purchase a gift from their Amazon Wish List for a child in care and have it delivered to one of A Place to Call Home’s locations.
Helen’s Hope Chest-Mesa United Way
Helen’s Hope Chest- a part of Mesa United Way, provides clothes, toys, personal hygiene items, school supplies and baby items for foster children in a boutique environment at their Mesa location where they can shop for their favorite items. You can get involved by volunteering to help sort items, host a donation drive or donate items. One of their programs, JaKelle’s Christmas Box which began in 2012, provides gifts to foster children for Christmas, where they can shop for gifts during the annual JaKelle’s Christmas Box held in December. If you’re interested in participating, you can donate gifts and drop them off at Helen’s Hope Chest in Mesa.
Phoenix Rescue Mission
Dedicated to their mission to provide Christ-centered life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger and homelessness, Phoenix Rescue Mission helps thousands of men, women and children escape hunger and homelessness. They accomplish this through their solutions including the Hope for Hunger Food Bank, The Changing Lives Center for Women & Children, community engagement projects and more.
Arizona Pet Project
Our furry friends deserve some assistance too! The Arizona Pet Project aims to prevent homelessness by keeping families with pets together by providing affordable services, resources and support through shelter prevention programs such as free spay and neuter and shelter intervention. You can volunteer in many ways including administrative assistance, event support, community outreach, at spay and neuter clinics, shelter intervention, construction of building shade structures and fence repair.
Southwest Human Development
Following their mission to strengthen the foundation Arizona’s children need for a great start in life for a positive future for every child, Southwest Human Development is committed to providing services that uplift the lives of children, families, other care providers and the communities in which they live. Some of their services they provide include child development and mental health services, family support and child welfare and disabilities services. You can volunteer by helping at special events, working in their book warehouse, helping in the offices.
The Phoenix-based nonprofit offers respite, pediatric palliative care and end-of-life care to children in addition to therapies and activities in a supportive, home-like setting. They provide these services to children at their 12,500-square-feet home that has a Memorial Garden and rooms, a family, arts and crafts and sensory and music rooms, bedrooms, family suites and a kitchen to help children and their families be as comfortable as possible during care. Ryan House has many volunteer opportunities; as part of their Care Team, which assists clinical staff with needs of children and families staying at Ryan House, community and corporate volunteers, where you can assist at events or working on projects or help as a Speaker’s Bureau volunteer, representing the organization at events and meetings and presenting about Ryan House.
Save the Family
For 30 years, Save the Family Foundation of Arizona has offered resources for homeless families through comprehensive programs and services. They provide housing assistance, youth programs including school support and extracurricular activities, and career services. They also provide veterans services including daily living, transportation and child care. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the offices of Save the Family are closed. You can still help families in need by donating shelf-stable food items or hygiene products at Save the Family’s Donation Center, located at 444 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa, AZ 85201, between 8 am and 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm. During the holidays, Save the Family provides holiday food baskets and gifts for families who would otherwise be unable to celebrate the season, if you are with a company or group, you can sponsor holiday meals and gifts in December.
Child Crisis Arizona
For over 40 years, Child Crisis Arizona has aimed to provide children and youth in Arizona a safe environment, free from abuse and neglect, by creating strong and successful families through prevention, intervention and education programs designed to support children and families who may be at risk.
In light of the pandemic, Child Crisis Arizona has suspended in-person volunteering events. You can still make a positive impact by donating items like hand sanitizer, non-perishable food items, and diapers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at 817 N. Country Club in Mesa, AZ.
Arizona Humane Society
Since 1957, the Arizona Humane Society has fostered the belief that every pet deserves a good life. The state’s largest animal welfare and protection agency and designated responder for animals in distress during natural disasters has saved 80,000 pet’s lives over the past five years.
The Arizona Humane Society is not currently accepting new volunteers, but you can still give directly to the organization, donate gently-used items to the Arizona Humane Society’s Thrift Stores in Mesa or Phoenix, or foster an animal in need.
The André House of Arizona served its first meal to the poor and homeless on Christmas night, 1984. Since then, the André House has served 500-700 meals six nights a week to those in need. Beyond serving food, the organization provides clothing, a laundering service, and private showers. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the André House of Arizona isn’t registering any new volunteers. It is, however, accepting donations of clothing, blankets, and toiletries.
Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary
Located on a five acre property in Queen Creek, Arizona, Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary is home to 67 livestock animals of all capabilities. The sanctuary seeks to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home farm animals in need. Volunteers spend the day as a farm hand cleaning pens, filling water troughs, and making sure the animals feel loved.
Started in 2015, the Phoenix ToolBank lends tools to other not-for-profit organizations to use on volunteer projects. With an inventory of over 200 different tools available, the Phoenix ToolBank has the capacity to equip thousands of volunteers and save other organizations the expense involved with buying, storing, and maintaining tools. The ToolBank needs volunteers to sort, pack, and distribute personal protection equipment (PPE) to other community organizations. There are also opportunities to help sort and prep tool donations.
If you don’t see an opportunity that fits what you’re looking for, check out HandsOn Greater Phoenix and Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, which are helpful resources to find more volunteer opportunities or search for nonprofits.