12 Holiday and Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities on Long Island in 2022
Looking for the best holiday and Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities on Long Island in 2022? Read on for our rundown of 12 top options.
No matter their ages, most kids (and adults) can’t help but get caught up in the gift-getting, list-making, shop-till-you-drop frenzy of the holidays. This holiday season provides a perfect opportunity to show your children how rewarding it can be to donate to needy families or help make a sick child’s holiday a little brighter by simply giving a little of your time.
From fundraising to turkey and book drives and helping make wishes come true, we’ve pulled together this list of 12 Long Island organizations looking for volunteers this holiday season. Most welcome help at other times, too.
Read all our best tips for the holidays–like the best seasonal day trips near Long Island–in our Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events for Long Island Kids.
Holiday and Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities on Long Island in 2022
1. Bethpage Turkey Drive – Bethpage
While most of our volunteer options last all season long (and beyond), this one is date specific: On Friday, November 18, load your frozen turkey, non-perishable food, and monetary donations into your truck for a drop-off at Bethpage Federal Credit Union. If you miss the collection day or can't make it, you can give a monetary donation online, too.
2. Kids Need More – Amityville
Kids Need More supports families in the area dealing with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Their annual Holiday Cheer Bus delivers gifts to those in need. Families can assist by delivering presents, packing at headquarters, or sending treats before the event.
3. Long Island Cares/The Harry Chapin Food Bank – Hauppauge
Have your kids end the year fighting hunger on Long Island by volunteering at Long Island Cares/The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Students can participate in food drives and the adopt-a-family program. Kids can also hold a food drive or help at a weekend food drive. If students need service hours, they can be earned by hosting the food drive, provided a detailed log is kept.
Care for a Guide Dog Foundation puppy and aid people with visual impairments. Photo by Rebecca Eden for the Guide Dog Foundation
4. Guide Dog Foundation – Smithtown
A host of opportunities exists for families to volunteer at this nonprofit that provides guide and service dogs and training at no charge to blind or visually impaired individuals. Volunteer opportunities include puppy raising. Kids 16 and younger can help by hanging puppy-raising recruitment flyers and organizing fundraisers, toy drives, and other projects. Another way to support its mission is to shop at its online store: GDF Shop, which carries everything from holiday cards to stuffed animals, pet toys, and more.
5. Make-A-Wish Foundation – Various locations on Long Island
Kids of all ages can help make wishes come true by organizing a fundraiser for children facing serious illnesses. Make-A-Wish Foundation's educational program, Kids for Wish Kids, helps children organize and manage fundraising campaigns at their schools, youth groups, etc., under the guidance of parents and teachers. Check out the organization’s websites for Nassau and Suffolk counties for tips, advice, and additional information.
Collect books to support the literacy program The Book Fairies. Photo courtesy of The Book Fairies
6. The Book Fairies – Freeport
This nonprofit collects and distributes books for children and adults throughout the New York metro area and has given out more than 250,000 books. The organization asks people to do book drives at their homes. You can sort the books if you wish and then The Book Fairies come to pick them up. The organization asks that you coordinate planning with them and that all books are placed in boxes that close or have lids.
7. Ronald McDonald House – New Hyde Park and Stony Brook
Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Metro’s mission is to build a community of compassionate care by creating and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well-being of sick children and their families. You can help fulfill the organization’s most urgent needs, including shopping its wish list, cooking meals, and baking sweet treats for families. You can also help by making a monetary donation.
8. Helping Hands Rescue Mission – Huntington Station
Helping Hands supports local residents by providing food, clothing, and other forms of support. The organization is currently seeking food for its Thanksgiving Food Drive. Families can provide a few items or a full meal. There are other opportunities for kids 12 and up to set up and work at the Baby Blessings events held throughout the year.
10. Family Service League – Huntington
This nonprofit organization has been helping Long Islanders since 1926, and more than 50,000 residents rely on their services annually. Their Project TOY program collects gifts for needy kids and distributes them locally. Families can coordinate their own collection of toys and monetary donations or help recipients choose and wrap the perfect item to bring home for the holidays.
11. Canine Companions For Independence – Medford
Canine Companions is a national organization that provides highly trained service dogs to people with disabilities. Their North East Training Center in Medford has been teaching puppies since 1989. They currently need puppy raisers. But, if that's too big of a commitment, families can create fundraisers or work as advocates for the organization.
12. The INN – Hempstead
The INN serves the homeless and hungry on Long Island. The organization hosts a popular Thanksgiving Food Drive. To assist, families can collect food or make a monetary donation. During the holiday season, their Adopt-a-Family program provides gifts to guests of their shelters and soup kitchen.
For more ways to give back this holiday season, you can also check out the Long Island Volunteer Center, a great resource of sortable local nonprofits in your area. And don’t forget to check with your local houses of worship, which often need help with food pantries and soup kitchens, your child’s school or Scouting group, and your local library.
This post is updated annually.
Writer Kristen Markel contributed to this post.