9 Volunteer Opportunities for Helping Your Fellow New Yorkers This Holiday Season

Without getting too coastal elite on y'all, we'd like to say with confidence that New Yorkers should have each other's backs.

If you feel scared and powerless against what our future holds, know that here in New York City, there are still a lot of people who need help right now—help that you can provide. 

Especially if you're privileged (ugghh we know, we used the word, we're SORRY) enough to feel like your personal circumstances might not be affected, but you want to do everything you can to help others, what you can do right now is pick a cause you're passionate about and sign up to volunteer.

Whether you have the ability to donate money or your time, you can always make a difference in your community.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways you can help out in NYC, it's only a small sample– if there is a cause you are passionate about, do the research, and get out there! 

You'll be making somebody's holiday season that much brighter.

1. Food Bank For New York City


Food Bank for New York City has been NYC's largest hunger-relief organization for over 30 years; nearly 1 in 5 New Yorkers relies on their resources. They have volunteer projects all across NYC serving meals, distributing food, stocking pantries, educational opportunities, and more. 


Most of their projects are during the week, so if you have time to spare, they're always looking for extra sets of hands. You can register to be a Food Bank volunteer right here.

2. Midnight Run

With over 1,000 relief missions per year, Midnight Run volunteers distribute food, clothing, blankets, and personal care items to NYC's homeless population– late at night, thus their name. Their mission is to foster a forum for trust and understanding, rather than just an exchange of goods.

Volunteers for Midnight Run grow to see our homeless population as real people and not a commodity. You can find more information about how to do a run on their website.

3. Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC


Big Brother Big Sisters (BBBS) of NYC is the founding agency of youth mentoring in the U.S. They've been around since 1904, matching NYC youth with mentors. You can sign up to be a mentor, or a "Big," where you'll meet up with your "Little" twice a month, on your schedule. 

Currently, there are over 500,000 children living at or below the poverty level in our city– BBBS connects over 5,000 of these kids with "Bigs" every year, to help them believe that their situations don't have to be permanent. Read more about becoming a "Big" on the BBBS website.

4. Ali Forney Center


Since their founding in 2002 with 6 beds in a church basement, the Ali Forney Center (AFC) has grown into the largest agency to protect homeless LGBTQ youth in the U.S. They assist nearly 1,400 children a year through their 10 housing sites and Drop-In Center.

You can join their cause if you're willing to commit for three months as a Meal Preparation/ Youth Counselor Assistant, a Drop-In Center Assistant, or if you can commit for 4 months, a Leap Tutor/ Mentor.

They also have opportunities for volunteers as administrative assistants, and special events and fundraising staff. Get more information about signing up on their volunteer page.

5. Cranksgiving NYC 


Held annually since 1999, Cranksgiving provides hundreds of families with food for Thanksgiving week every year. They're "part bike ride, part food drive, part scavenger hunt." To participate, all you need is a bike, a bag, a lock, and $15-$20 to buy food that will be donated to the Bowery Mission.

Registration is free and starts at 1 p.m. on November 19th at Hudson Yards. The ride starts at 2 p.m. You can get all the information on their website.

6. Housing Works


You've probably passed by one of the dozen Housing Works Thrift Shops in NYC or their Bookstore Cafe in Soho. The non profit has been serving homeless New Yorkers living with AIDS and HIV since 1990.

Their stores are powered by diverse groups of volunteers, but they also partner with corporations to execute outside projects, as well as health/preventive services. Check out all of their volunteer opportunities here.

7. Planned Parenthood


For 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been providing health services, sex education, advocating for women's health issues, and more, while almost consistently always being attacked for doing so.

There's a need for Planned Parenthood volunteers all over the boroughs. Volunteers assist in their health centers and executive office in Manhattan. You can apply to volunteer for PPNYC through their online application.

They also invite people to join the PPNYC Action Fund Activist Council, which was launched in 2005 to include New Yorkers who want to help Planned Parenthood with their mission. 

Members can join different advocacy groups, including Sex Ed, Political Action, Fundraising, Field Outreach, as well as becoming a Health Center Escort. To get more information about the Activist Council, fill out their interest form.

8. The Trevor Project


Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing intervention and suicide preventions services to LGBT youth and young adults.


They look for volunteers dedicated to providing support to the LGBT community– you can volunteer with their Call Centers, at their events, and with assisting staff members with administrative tasks right here in NYC. Their list of opportunities and orientation schedule is provided on their website.

9. Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC

Founded in the historically immigrant Lower East Side of Manhattan, Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC (CIS-NYC) provides legal, supportive, and educational services to NYC's immigrant community.

They only have three paid staff members, so they rely almost entirely on volunteers like you. They need food pantry assistants to unload, organize, and distribute food, Chinese (Cantonese) translators, and people to provide pro bono law services. 

In addition, they are looking for volunteers who can help them amplify their message, whether you have social media, graphic design, marketing, artistic, or writing skills. Check out all their volunteer information here.

[Feature Image Courtesy Inhabitat.com] 

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