Holiday and Thanksgiving Volunteering Opportunities for Kids and Families on Long Island

Long Island Cares food banks are a great way to give back to those in need this holiday season. Photo courtesy of Long Island Cares
Long Island Cares food banks are a great way to give back to those in need this holiday season. Photo courtesy of Long Island Cares
11/6/23 - By Lisa Mancuso

Volunteering opportunities on Long Island show your children how rewarding it is to make someone’s holiday a little brighter by simply giving a little of your time. Volunteering also offers a way to break free from the gift-getting, list-making, shop-till-you-drop frenzy of the holidays. 

From fundraising to turkey and book drives to helping make wishes come true, we’ve pulled together this list of a dozen 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


Subscribe to our newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox. 

Holiday and Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities on Long Island

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 17, 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. The 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.

RELATED: How to Find Free Toys This Christmas and Holiday Season

Volunteering with the Guide Dog Foundation might lead to making some furry friends
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 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.

RELATEDWhat's Open on Christmas Day on Long Island

The Book Fairies
Collect books to support The Book Fairies, a literacy program. 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. 

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 listcooking 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 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. 

10. Family Service League – Huntington 

This nonprofit organization has been helping Long Islanders since 1926, and more than 50,000 residents rely on its services annually. The 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. Its North East Training Center in Medford has been teaching puppies since 1989. It currently needs 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 day of Thanks and Giving. To assist, families volunteer their time at the soup kitchen. You can also make a monetary or food donation. During the holiday season, the Adopt-a-Family program provides gifts at shelters and soup kitchens.

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.

Places featured in this article: