10 places to volunteer this holiday season
Looking to give back and volunteer during this season of giving? Here are 10 volunteer opportunities where you can help others this holiday season:
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, participating in interactive activities with children and other volunteers, and working on construction projects such as building shelving and wood bins for storage areas. 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.
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. You can get involved by volunteering to pack and distribute emergency and Thanksgiving food boxes, or pack and sort food items at their Surprise Warehouse. 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.
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.
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- 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.
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. If you’re interested in volunteering for Thanksgiving, the organization has several events and drives starting Nov. 10 through Nov. 22 that include Thanksgiving Food Box delivery and turkey drives. You can also help sort, box and bag food, and help families choose and carry food to their vehicles for the Peoria Mobile Food Pantry, which provides Peoria residents a mobile pantry offering supplemental emergency food assistance to those in need.
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. You can also attend and participate in 12 K’s of Christmas on Dec. 8 at Freestone Park in Gilbert benefiting the Arizona Pet Project. Attendees can walk or run, and enjoy caroling, family fun and see adoptable dogs and cats ready for their forever home.
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, or at their Festival of Tales event on Dec. 1, which is a day of reading, literacy and cultural activities that include storytelling, arts and crafts, food trucks and more, and provides almost 5,000 free books to children who participate in the activities.
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-sq.ft. 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, help as a Speaker’s Bureau volunteer, representing the organization at events and meetings and presenting about Ryan House.
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 that help people create resumes, prepare for interviews and searching for a job. They also provide veterans services including daily living, transportation and child care. Their volunteer opportunities include their Welcome Home paint and clean projects under their Affordable Rental Movement program, which provides more than 190 units of affordable housing in Maricopa County. Volunteers clean and paint homes and help prepare the units for residents, you can also help clean and organize classrooms at Save the Family’s office in Mesa, organize a donation drive or baby shower, teach a class, or provide GED tutoring. 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 November and December.
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.