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Giving to friends and family is wonderful, but if you’d like to do something for those less fortunate than yourself, these 15 nonprofits offer opportunities to help your local community. We’ve broken this list up into areas of concern so that you can give to a cause that’s near and dear to you, but keep in mind that this is only a brief list—you can also find a more extensive list of worthy New York City charities here.

Note: Due to COVID-19, some volunteering opportunities may not be possible.

Hunger and Homelessness

Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

In 2019, New York City’s largest soup kitchen served a weekly average of 840 pantry meals per week. Due to COVID-19, this number has increased to a weekly average of 22,000 meals per week. Volunteers are needed every day of the week at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen to help prepare and distribute meals or you can help the cause with a monetary donation—$28 will feed a guest every weekday for a month and $150 provides a family of four with weekend meals for a month. holyapostlessoupkitchen.org

City Harvest

City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization and helps to feed the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables. Whether you’re collecting donations of excess food from local green markets or distributing fresh produce on the weekends, volunteering with City Harvest is likely to give you a decent workout—a huge benefit during those sluggish winter months. Plus, you’ll be joining a network of people who are giving access to healthy food in underserved areas. You can also support the organization by making a monetary donation—$27 will feed two hungry New Yorkers for an entire month. cityharvest.org

Coalition for the Homeless

Homelessness has reached record highs in NYC, which is especially concerning during the colder winter months. But you can be part of the solution by volunteering with Coalition for the Homeless. In addition to running on a toy drive for children during the holidays, volunteers distribute food, clothing, blankets and other necessities every night of the year. You can also donate food pantry items, hygiene items, face masks and hand sanitizer, or make an online monetary donation. coalitionforthehomeless.org

New York Cares Coat Drive

Temperatures are dropping and many New Yorkers don’t have adequate clothing for the winter months. If you have a new or gently used coat to donate, use this map to find a drop-off spot near you. And if you don’t have any one, consider giving a donation of $20 which will provide one coat for a New Yorker in need. newyorkcares.org

Children

Girls, Inc.

Toy drives are a great way to give back around the holidays, but there’s something the city’s underserved girls could use even more: your expertise. Create future leaders by facilitating virtual workshops with Girls Inc., which provides educational programs in the areas of math, science, financial literacy, multicultural appreciation and health and safety. You can also support this organization by making a monetary donation. girlsincnyc.org

New York City Mammas Give Back

This volunteer-run non-profit organization provides infant essentials and support to agencies and shelters in the NYC area serving homeless pregnant women and families and children (ages 0 to 5) living at or below the poverty line. Donating money to NYC Mammas is one the fastest ways to help their families in need but you can support their cause by donating clothing, diapers, formula, books, baby gear (like monitors and carriers), toys, and other essentials. They have two drop off points located in Manhattan. nycmammasgiveback.org

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) NYC

Last year, nearly 12,000 children were in foster care in New York’s five boroughs. CASA-NY advocates for and protects these kids. During the pandemic, they have helped access emergency grants, apply for unemployment benefits, obtained laptops and internet access for kids in school, made sure that they have safe places to live and stayed in touch. The process to become a volunteer is, not surprisingly, multi-step and lengthy but you can also support the organization by donating money in order to ensure that children in foster care have their needs met and rights protected. casa-nyc.org

Equity

The Audre Lorde Project

This Brooklyn-based organization advocates for LGBTQ+ people of color and issues surrounding social and economic justice reform in New York City. Named for LGBT advocate and poet Audre Lorde, the center runs multiple programs to support minority communities, including the Safe OUTside System (SOS) Collective, which promotes community support without relying on law enforcement. Support their work by donating to the movement or becoming a member of the organization. alp.org

New York Civil Liberties Union

This New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union protects the fundamental rights of New Yorkers, including freedom of speech, religion, press, petition, assembly and equality before the law. Support their important work by making a donation. nyclu.org

Animals

Best Friends Pet Adoption Center

This SoHo institution’s mission is to end the practice of euthanizing excess animals in shelters. Here you can find a new furry friend to take home, as well as help spread awareness of the no-kill message. You can also help by fostering a pet or giving a monetary donation. ny.bestfriends.org

Sean Casey Animal Rescue

You love dogs, but the cruel realities of New York apartment living dictate that a pet of your very own isn’t in the immediate future. But all hope isn’t lost. By volunteering as a dog walker at Sean Casey Animal Rescue, you can get your puppy fix and help out, too. Win-win. nyanimalrescue.org

The Environment

Green School Alliance

This organization focuses on sustainability education through eco-conscious school programs in New York City and worldwide. Their mission is to make every person aware of and accountable for the impact they have in creating an environmentally, economically, and equitably sustainable future. They do this by arming teachers, school leaders, and students with knowledge and tools to create measurable environmental change. Children are the future, after all. Support their work with a monetary donation, by organizing a community clean-up or for those who work in education, by writing a blog. greenschoolsalliance.org

Grow NYC

GrowNYC seeks to “transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.” The organization works to achieve their goals in a variety of ways including community gardens, recycling events, education programs and distributing fresh food boxes from small family farms. Give a monetary donation by December 31 and Bank of America will double your gift. grownyc.org

Health

Donate blood with the New York Blood Center

Since March, most high schools, colleges, offices and other community groups have had to cancel their blood drives which has jeopardized 75 percent of the incoming blood supply, reports ABC news. And according to the New York Blood Center, as of November 30th, the city was at a three day blood supply, down from its ideal 7-day supply. That’s why a new campaign this holiday season is encouraging New Yorkers to give the gift of life. Schedule an appointment at nybc.org/donate to donate at one of New York Blood Center's NYC locations before December 31, and you could win a prize. nybloodcenter.org

Relief for Restaurant Workers

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest to be hit by the pandemic. In partnership with the Robin hood Foundation, ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants) is awarding grants to part-time and full-time workers, many of whom lost most of their yearly wages during the pandemic. This grant is on a first-come, first-served basis to restaurant workers facing economic hardship and you can help by donating to the cause. Hey, hospitality workers have taken care of you so many times... now it’s your turn to take care of them. roarnewyork.org

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