Photo courtesy of Houston Food Bank
Photo courtesy of Houston Food Bank

Holiday Volunteering Opportunities for Houston Families

One way to help little elves feel confident about their spot on Santa's nice list is to encourage them to volunteer. Volunteering as a family is a great way to teach kids that the holidays are about more than just presents, while creating a meaningful family holiday tradition. As we continue to deal with COVID, however, volunteering takes on an entirely new meaning, as many individuals and families are struggling now more than ever. This year especially we encourage you to find ways to help those in our community who are in need. While many volunteer sites are on hold during the pandemic, there are still several that need volunteers. We’ve rounded up some easy ways your family can volunteer locally or through national organizations, all with safety and social distancing protocols in place to protect you as you help others.

Find more ideas to keep the holidays bright in our Holiday Events Guide for Houston Families.

Books Between Kids

Photo courtesy of Books Between Kids

Houston Food Bank

Downtown
The Houston Food Bank is a great option for families, because children as young as age six can volunteer alongside an adult parent or guardian. There are many volunteer projects, including kid-friendly projects, which can vary from inspecting and sorting food, to packing food into family-sized bags, to stocking the Emergency Food Pantry. Volunteer shifts are available daily, but hours vary. There are also special volunteer events coming up for the holidays. Register online to volunteer and make sure to wear closed-toed shoes and sleeved shirts. In addition to volunteering, you can also help by donating food or money or even hosting a food drive.

City Wide Club

Downtown
City Wide Club is best known for its annual events, which include a Thanksgiving Day Feast and a Christmas Eve Feast held at the George R. Brown Convention Center with volunteer shifts available in the morning and afternoon. This year, however, in lieu of an in-person feast, volunteers will be handing out grab-n-go bags of food. In addition to handing out meals, thousands of people also receive clothing, shoes, blankets, flu shots, medical care, food baskets, and other resources. Due to Covid, all volunteers must be at least 16 years of age, wear face coverings and gloves, and adhere to all safety and social distancing protocols. If you cannot make the annual events, there are many other ways to help, including donating canned foods or home goods or even hosting a food and toy drive benefiting City Wide Club.

Buffalo Bayou Community Volunteer Day

Inner Loop
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership invites Houstonians, ages 9 and up, to join in a community-wide volunteer day at Buffalo Bayou Park on one Saturday of each month. Volunteers help with a variety of tasks, including trash pick-up, mulching, silt management, and weed removal. Volunteers should bring their own gloves, personal sanitation items, and personal protection equipment, but all other necessary tools will be provided. To sign up please read the volunteer information packet and complete an online volunteer waiver with the event date. Several areas along the bayou, including parks and public spaces, were damaged during floods and are still undergoing renovations. Help restore the park to its former glory!

Operation Turkey Houston

Various locations
The volunteer-run organization distributes meals and care packages in more than 30 communities nationwide. For 2020, Operation Turkey has set the bar high, with a goal of passing out 75,000 meals to those in need on Thanksgiving morning. Volunteers are needed to prepare, package, and deliver food to the homeless and less fortunate. Children are welcome as volunteers along with their parents and are given tasks including decorating the clamshell food containers and walking through the food line to get the food containers filled, they can also help with delivering food if a parent volunteers to be a driver.

Kids Meals, Inc.
The entire family can volunteer to pack meals with Kids Meals, Inc. Photo courtesy Kids Meals, Inc. 

Kids Meals, Inc.

Inner Loop
330 Garden Oaks, Houston
Kids’ Meals, Inc. works to end childhood hunger by delivering free, healthy meals to the doorsteps of children ages five and under facing hunger due to poverty. Monday through Friday, volunteers prepare thousands of healthy lunches and then deliver the meals to children enrolled in the program. Kids Meals Inc. also provides children with additional resources such as free books. Outside of the holiday season, the group needs at least 20 volunteers a day. You can imagine how the need increases this time of year! Other ways to help include donating holiday food items, gift cards, and toys, or by participating in their adopt-a-family program. Volunteers at the Garden Oaks Center need to be 16 years of age or older. Due to COVID, all volunteers must bring their own face masks and gloves and adhere to all safety and social distancing protocols. 

Books Between Kids

Westchase
Books Between Kids distributes over 260,000 books to approximately 36,000 Houston elementary school students. Volunteers are needed to count and inventory donations, to sort books and box them, and to help with stocking the tables. Currently, volunteers are being accepted in small numbers and by group registration to help reduce the risk of Covid. Volunteer shifts are 2.25 hours and are typically held on Saturdays during the school year. Children ages 5-16 are welcome to volunteer with an adult. To volunteer, sign up online. You can also help by donating gently used children’s books appropriate for Pre-K through 5th-grade readers or hosting a book drive. For more information, email volunteer@booksbetweenkids.org.

Northwest Assistance Ministries

North Houston
The Season of Blessings program at Northwest Assistance Ministries coordinates assistance for individuals in need, providing food, hygiene products, financial assistance, and more. For the 2020 holiday season, NAM will work to provide families in need with food and toys to help create special holiday memories. Donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at NAM until Dec. 11, 2020. Volunteers must fill out an online RSVP to indicate when they will be available to volunteer, and all minors must have a permission slip filled out by their parents in order to volunteer. All volunteering opportunities will follow all social distancing and safety protocols.

Toys For Tots

Various Locations
When families need assistance providing a joy-filled holiday for their children, Toys For Tots steps in with in-kind donations of new toys for kids who otherwise might not receive anything to open on Christmas morning. Your kids can get in the spirit of giving by selecting toys for a child and dropping them off at one of the many collection locations throughout the greater Houston area. 

Meals on Wheels

Various locations
Interfaith Ministries' Meals on Wheels program provides over 5,000 holiday meals to homebound seniors in the Houston area. Volunteering looks a little different in 2020, but you can still help by joining the Friendly Neighbor Call Team and calling a senior on Thanksgiving morning, joining the Secret Santa Gift Bag Team by adopting a senior and purchasing a gift bag for them, joining the Gobble Gobble Gang and provide dry kibble for the furry friends of seniors, start your own Friendsgiving campaign, or donate to Meals on Wheels

This article originally published in 2016.

Want to deliver hot meals to Houston seniors on Thanksgiving Day? Click 'VOLUNTEER' in the menu above!

Can't come on Thanksgiving Day, but want to help? Click 'VOLUNTEER' in the menu above and sign up to fundraise!

Over 4,000 seniors in the Houston area rely on IM's Meals on Wheels program every day. They need you to bring them a little extra holiday cheer along with their traditional Thanksgiving meal! Thank you for caring about seniors in need. Together, we can make sure that no senior goes hungry, on Thanksgiving or any other day!

- See more at: http://support.imgh.org/site/TR?fr_id=1070&pg=entry#sthash.sIDLEUrZ.dpuf

Want to deliver hot meals to Houston seniors on Thanksgiving Day? Click 'VOLUNTEER' in the menu above!

Can't come on Thanksgiving Day, but want to help? Click 'VOLUNTEER' in the menu above and sign up to fundraise!

Over 4,000 seniors in the Houston area rely on IM's Meals on Wheels program every day. They need you to bring them a little extra holiday cheer along with their traditional Thanksgiving meal! Thank you for caring about seniors in need. Together, we can make sure that no senior goes hungry, on Thanksgiving or any other day!

- See more at: http://support.imgh.org/site/TR?fr_id=1070&pg=entry#sthash.sIDLEUrZ.dpuf
Over 4,000 seniors in the Houston area rely on IM's Meals on Wheels program every day. They need you to bring them a little extra holiday cheer along with their traditional Thanksgiving meal! Thank you for caring about seniors in need. Together, we can make sure that no senior goes hungry, on Thanksgiving or any other day! - See more at: http://support.imgh.org/site/TR?fr_id=1070&pg=entry#sthash.sIDLEUrZ.dpuf

Houston Food Bank Portwall Headquarters
535 Portwall Street
Houston , TX 77029

City Wide Club Annual Feasts at George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida De Las Americas
Houston, TX 77010

The Holiday Project at Grace Care Center of Cypress
9602 Huffmeister Rd.
Houston, TX 77095

Operation Turkey - Turkey Tailgate at Grace Presbyterian Church
10221 Ella Lee Ln.
Houston, TX 77042

Operation Turkey- Thanksgiving Meal at P.F. Chang's
4094 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77027

Kids Meals Houston
330 Garden Oaks
Houston, TX 77018

Kids' Meals Houston Ripley House
4410 Navigation
Houston , TX 77011

Books Between Kids
Warehouse - 9947 Harwin Dr. Suite C
Houston, TX 77036

Northwest Assistance Minitries
15555 Kuykendahl Road
Houston, TX 77090
Holidays at Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens - various times Pick
Santa's Wonderland
Santa's Wonderland - various times Pick
Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo - various times Pick
Homeschool Days at the Ranch
George Ranch Historial Park - various times Pick
Space Age Christmas Trees Exhibit at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum
The 1940 Air Terminal Museum - various times Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides