You want to raise caring and responsible humans, but how do you go about doing that exactly? By teaching them how to give back to their local community, that’s how. And because actions speak louder than words, make it a family affair by volunteering at one of these charities located in and around New York City. All of these organizations offer various opportunities where parents can volunteer with their kids in a fun and welcoming environment while supporting important causes. Families can choose to participate in programs dedicated to cleaning up local parks, walking dogs at animal shelters, packaging and preparing meals at soup kitchens and much more. Check out our list below of ten great family volunteer opportunities near NYC that will help show your kids what the spirit of giving is all about.
10 Amazing Family Volunteer Opportunities Near NYC
Masbia is a nonprofit soup kitchen network and food pantry that provides hot, nutritious meals for hundreds of hungry New Yorkers. They offer a hot meal program, a restaurant-style environment where volunteers serve as waiters and a weekend take-home package program that gives out bags of groceries to those in need. Masbia has three different volunteer locations in New York City (two in Brooklyn and one in Queens) where you can sign up for various activities including performing inventory for the food pantry, bagging up pantry items, serving dinner and helping prepare food by cutting and peeling vegetables. Volunteers must be 12 years of age and must be with an adult over 18 years old. Sign up on their website for specific locations, days and times and learn more about this important organization.
Get your children involved with the elderly community through Encore Community Services. Founded in 1977, this agency provides a wide variety of programs and services to elderly New Yorkers such as meal programs, housing and social services. There are several ways for you and your family to help these senior citizens, including wellness or friendly calls, escorting and shopping, delivering meals on foot or by car and packing and serving meals at the senior center. Simply fill out a volunteer form on the website to get started.
If you are looking to spend more time outdoors with your children while volunteering at the same time, you’ll want to check out the Central Park Conservancy. The Conservancy is responsible for the day-to-day care of New York City’s most historic park and their goal is to preserve and celebrate the enjoyment of this space. They host Family Volunteer Days where kids four years old and older can volunteer with their families on Saturday mornings from April through June and September through December. Depending on the season, volunteers can help with tasks such as raking, weeding and spreading mulch. Advance registration is required, and space is limited so be sure to sign up online.
Attention dog lovers! There’s no doubt you’ll love the volunteer opportunities available at Sean Casey Animal Rescue. This nonprofit, no-kill shelter specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of several animals including dogs, cats, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Dog walkers are a big need at the shelter, and children under 16 years old can participate in this volunteer opportunity with an adult. For those looking to volunteer at the Windsor Terrace shelter in Brooklyn, there are opportunities for children ages four to 12 who are accompanied by an adult, to spread the message about animal protection. Fill out volunteer forms on their website to get started helping animals in need.
Get your children involved with a philanthropy that helps those in need through God’s Love We Deliver. The mission of this organization is to improve the health and wellbeing of men, women and children living with serious illnesses by preparing and delivering high-quality and nutritious meals. You and your family can volunteer to work in the kitchen or create and decorate cards. Those wanting to work in the kitchen for meal prep must be 18 years or old but kids who are between the ages of 13 and 15 can volunteer as long as they are accompanied by an adult. If getting crafty is more what you’re looking for, children of all ages can decorate birthday cards and holidays cards for clients to be delivered alongside their meals.
6. Book Fairies
Hammer home the importance of learning and literacy by volunteering with Book Fairies. As the largest book donation organization in the Tri-State area, Book Fairies gathers new and gently used books and redistributes them to under-resourced communities on Long Island and in New York City. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities within this organization that can be done individually, in groups or with your family, like hosting a book drive or serving as an ongoing drop site where friends and family can donate their new or used books. You can also sort and pack donations at the Book Bank located on Long Island or volunteer at monthly book fairs that give directly to educators.
Social butterflies will love the volunteer opportunities available through DOROT. This organization offers services and programs that foster intergenerational connections between people of all ages, but particularly older adults. Families with children ages 5 to 12 can visit the homes of DOROT elders, deliver holiday packages, participate in a chess program or create birthday and holiday cards. All of these activities will foster memorable and influential friendships while helping out your local community. Find out more about these opportunities on their website.
Run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots is a beloved donation program that distributes toys to children whose parents can’t afford to buy them gifts for the holidays. Families can donate toys to the cause, become a toy drop site where those in your community can donate, or host a Toys for Tots event. Head to their website to find out more about these opportunities and deadlines for receiving donations.
Located on Long Island, Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation is a nonprofit dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals by helping to reduce the cat and dog overpopulation. Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult to volunteer but can participate in various programs, such as cleaning cages, walking dogs, feeding animals, socializing and showcasing them to those interested in adoption. You can also host a supply drive and collect donations for the shelter, or even foster an animal in need until it finds its forever home.
If your children love spending time at the park, have them take action by helping to maintain these outdoor spaces. The Westchester Parks Foundation invests and advocates for the preservation, conservation and use of the 18,000 acres of trails, parks and open spaces within the Westchester County Parks system. You and your children can participate in various volunteer opportunities including the Clean River Project, Pitch in for Parks and the Green Squad Program which all focus on boardwalk building, litter removal, planting native trees and cleaning up waste in local rivers and much more.