Holiday Volunteering With Kids in Boston

Volunteering and giving back with kids in Boston for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas
Kids pay holiday cheer forward with Catching Joy. Photo courtesy of Catching Joy's Facebook page

We all have our hands full with family and work obligations, and the pending holidays certainly don't lighten the load. And yet, it's the time of year when we're also inspired to count our blessings—and teach our children to do the same. To inspire my children to think about what they are grateful for this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, we’re going to try one of the Fun Projects That Help Kids Give Thanks. But I also want my kids to think about other people and do something to make a difference in our community, and we've found some great opportunities for volunteering as a family during the holiday season. 

Jump start gratitude on National Family Volunteering Day this Saturday, November 17, 2017 by connecting with one of the amazing organizations below, or just doing something simple from home, whether it's baking pumpkin bread to drop at the local food pantry or getting the family outside to rake the leaves for an elderly or housebound neighbor. With just a bit of planning, lending a hand with kids can be easy—and maybe the most meaningful and memorable experience in a season full of them.

Catching Joy—Multiple Locations 
Throughout the year, Catching Joy provides opportunities for volunteerism and giving for families with young children. During the holidays, Catching Joy founders Joy Surprenant and her son Maxwell organize a Thanksgiving program with the Blue Bunny Bookstore (mark your calendars for November 17, 2017), and connect with the Sugar Plum Fairy Teas and Nutcracker Breakfasts at the Ritz Carlton in December by guiding little guests in making holiday cards and ornaments for trees that will be donated to charity. You can also give back from home by helping to create "Blessings Bags" to homeless shelters, as well as no-sew fleece blankets—they have a goal of making and distributing 200 blankets this winter. Email founder Joy at for details.

Family Volunteering Day is Saturday, November 18. Photo courtesy of Boston Cares

Boston Cares Family Volunteer Day—Dorchester
On November 18, 2017 (it's always the Saturday before Thanksgiving), Boston Cares hosts its annual Family Volunteer Day for families with kids ages 5 and up. A tradition for many families, it's a terrific way to introduce children to volunteerism. This year, volunteering families will help create language learning tools and games for immigrant families. Sign up here.

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly—Boston 
Become a Holiday Celebrations Volunteer with the Boston Chapter of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, and put a smile on the face of a senior citizen who may be isolated this time of year. Link up with your kids or another family or two to visit area elders on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas, and bring them flowers, food and companionship. If you'd like to lend a helping hand with kids from home, volunteer to bake pies for Thanksgiving or cookies for Christmas that drivers will deliver for you.

Christmas in the City—Boston
Families with kids of all ages are invited to sort toys, wrap presents, help prepare stocking stuffers, and play "elf" in the toy room at Christmas in the City, an annual event happening on December 18 this year that benefits area families in need. Toy sorting happens to day before the event, and present delivery happens during it. Volunteer spots fill up quickly and well in advance. If you have older kids, they can also help with things like party setup and administrative tasks.

Pie in the Sky/Community Servings—Jamaica Plain
Label and box pies at Leo’s Bakery (ages 13 and up) or make deliveries as a family (all ages can participate in delivering pies with adult drivers) to help support the Pie in the Sky fundraiser for Community Servings. Pie proceeds provide meals and nutrition to critically ill and homebound people in Massachusetts. A family may also help with fundraising for Community Servings by becoming a Pie Seller team. 

Published Nov 2013; updated Nov 2014, 2015, and 2017