Holiday Volunteering Opportunities in New Jersey for Families

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey hosts an annual Turkey Drive to collect holiday meals for local families. Photo courtesy of Community Food Bank of NJ.
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey hosts an annual Turkey Drive to collect holiday meals for local families. Photo courtesy of Community Food Bank of NJ.

Looking for new ways to connect as a family this holiday season? Volunteering together can spark the joy of giving in children of all ages. The holidays are a great time to inspire your kids to give back. Create new family traditions this year by contributing to a favorite charity or reaching out to those in need. From the youngest kids coloring holiday greeting cards to teenagers serving Thanksgiving dinners, we've got the low-down on family-friendly holiday volunteering in New Jersey.

Find more ways to celebrate this season in our Guide to Christmas and Hanukkah in New Jersey.

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Senior citizens smile after receiving their Color A Smile cards
Kids can make cards to send to senior citizens through Color A Smile.

Volunteering Opportunities for Preschoolers in New Jersey

Many social service agencies and faith-based organizations rely on neighborhood volunteers and donations, especially during the holidays. For hands-on help, kids as young as preschool-age can color pictures to deliver smiles to home-bound senior citizens through Color A Smile, or sort through their own toy shelves to donate plastic toys in good condition to Second Chance Toys.

Volunteering Opportunities for Grade-Schoolers in New Jersey

Grade schoolers writing out their Santa wish lists can embrace the spirit of giving by shopping for a new present for a child in need through the Jersey Cares Frosty's Friends program. Many local churches, mosques, temples, and community centers also offer holiday giving trees, charity bazaars, and adopt-a-family programs that allow families to purchase and donate new, unwrapped gifts for homeless children and adults.

Local animal shelters have holiday wish lists, too—so, while your kids are filling Fido's stocking, they can set aside some pet goodies for St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center or your local animal shelter.

Volunteering Opportunities for Teens in New Jersey

Older children can help organize a hat-and-glove drive to bring warmth this winter to families through Jersey Cares. And as temperatures drop, the whole family can pack up cold-weather kits containing warm socks, lip balm, and hand warmers for homeless men served by Bridges Outreach or Eva's Village. Teens can also collect and donate feminine hygiene products to South Orange-based Girls Helping Girls. Period, which helps local women and girls.

For additional family volunteer opportunities throughout the holiday season, reach out to these New Jersey charitable organizations:

Family-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities in North Jersey

Bergen Volunteer Center – Hackensack

This organization encourages community service by children 10 and who can help decorate bedrooms for homeless families moving into transitional housing; do arts and crafts and singing with senior citizens; and make holiday cards.

NJ Veterans Memorial Home – Paramus

Youth volunteers are welcome to assist with daily recreation activities, including holiday events.

Liberty Humane Society – Jersey City

While in-person volunteer opportunities are paused, this local org is always in need of kitty litter, cat and dog food and toys, blankets, and towels.

PAWS Montclair – Montclair

Donations are welcome to fulfill ongoing needs for dog biscuits, leashes, dog and cat food, toys, and cleaning supplies.

Family-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities in Central and South Jersey

Cuddle Me – Cherry Hill

A diaper bank in need of infant supplies, including baby clothes and diapers. Also in need of volunteers to sort and deliver donated items.

United Way of Monmouth and Ocean County – Farmingdale and Toms River

An umbrella organization for helping Jersey Shore-area families, the United Way is always in need of help. Its volunteer portal helps connect you with current projects.

Bridge of Books Foundation – Rumson

You can donate books, run a book drive, and even host a "Books for Birthdays" party in support of this organization that provides ongoing access to books for underserved children.

Center for Family Services – Camden

The Center for Family Services connects local teens to charitable causes throughout Camden County and holds monthly team-building meetings for the teens to share experiences.

Food Bank of Southern NJ – Pennsauken

Both individuals and families can help feed the hungry in southern New Jersey with this resource. Volunteers 13 and older (under 17 must be accompanied by a guardian) may donate their time at the distribution center, events, or in the office. Plus, non-perishable foods are always needed.

For additional holiday volunteer opportunities, check out the NJ listings on Volunteer Match.

RELATED: Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving in New Jersey


The Community Food Bank collects thousands of turkeys during its Turkey Drive.


Where To Serve Thanksgiving Dinner in New Jersey

Local soup kitchens need volunteers to serve meals and sort donated boxes and cans of non-perishable food. Teenagers can roll up their sleeves and serve holiday dinners, as many soup kitchens allow children ages 14 and older to help out on weekends and holidays. To schedule a shift preparing or serving Thanksgiving dinners to those in need, contact:

Community Food Bank of NJ – Hillside and Egg Harbor

Volunteers age 12 and older are needed to sort and repack food for delivery to hungry families across New Jersey, and to collect food, including turkeys, at community food drives around the state. Teens ages 12-15 must be accompanied by an adult, and you must be 18 or older to volunteer at Egg Harbor Township.

Family Promise – Hackensack

Family Promise serves 130 meals daily at the Bergen County Health and Human Services Center in Hackensack, 365 days a year. Special meals are served on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Market Street Mission – Morristown

Market Street provides clothing, shelter, and meals to thousands of individuals in Morristown. It accepts donations and schedules volunteers to serve breakfast and dinner daily.

Eva's Village – Paterson

Volunteers needed to serve weekday breakfast and lunch in the community kitchen. Shifts are scheduled up to a month in advance.

Toni's Kitchen – Montclair

High-school students can fill to-go bags with healthy meals and snacks for distribution at the soup kitchen.

Photos courtesy of the organizations

This post was originally published in 2016 and is updated annually.

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