Ready to do more as a family this season? Sure, the holiday lights and festivities are great, but sometimes it's nice to give back to the community. The Greater Philadelphia region is full of opportunities to volunteer and work together as a family. Build strong memories of sharing and caring this holiday season with this roundup of ways to give back!
Hold a Toy Drive for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104
The Child Life, Education, and Creative Arts Therapy department is always looking for new toys and art supplies for the children who visit CHOP as patients. There is a particular need for crayons and paper, bubbles, small LEGO kits, and Play-Doh—all the things your kids love too! Host a toy drive and you can get the whole family involved in this activity. Get the kids to help create the flyers and wish lists for you to distribute to your neighbors, friends, and colleagues.
Cook for a family in need at the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network
7047 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119
Help a family in need by cooking a meal, or better yet, hosting a meal on site. With hosted meals, the whole family shares the gift of companionship. Encourage your kids to bring a book or toy from home to share with the other children, and make new friends while also lending a hand.
Bring companionship to seniors with the Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly
642 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130
Although ideally, this is a longer commitment to become a true friend to a senior on a weekly or monthly basis, holiday visits are especially helpful. Visit as a family, and your children will get to hear stories of holidays long ago! The organization's Thanksgiving Day Dinner provides a great opportunity to provide Thanksgiving Eve prep work and Thanksgiving Day driving, serving, and cleanup errands. A security test is required for this volunteer organization.
Help fight hunger with the SHARE Food Program
2901 W. Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19129
Help pack holiday meal boxes for families, and work as a team to get as many boxed up and on the way as possible!
Provide food staples to families by partnering with the Jewish Relief Agency
10980 Dutton Rd., Philadelphia, PA 19154
This November 17 and December 15 (as well as monthly throughout the year) head to JRA's Northeast Philly warehouse and lend a hand assembling boxes of canned food items and staples for the needy. Also, sign up to deliver prepared boxes to families in Bucks, Philadelphia, and Montgomery Counties.
Help feed and clothe those in need with Arms of Alpha
1400 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA
This year's events will take place on Thanksgiving Day at the North Broad YMCA. Thanksgiving dinner is provided to those less fortunate.
Pie in the Sky presented by American Airlines and MANNA
420 N. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
The local community comes together to help neighbors battling life-threatening illnesses during the holiday season. The organization is looking for volunteers to sell pies, distribute pies at Thanksgiving, and help the kitchen staff.
Help keep Philadelphia beautiful by volunteering with the city's Parks and Recreations team
1515 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19102
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation partners with the Fairmount Park Conservancy to maintain the city's grounds. Volunteer on a one-time basis or come out monthly, every second Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Help plant or remove trees and plants and work to keep the waterways clean. Volunteer locations vary.
Be a PAWS pet foster
1810 Grant Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19115
Let's not forget our furry friends in need this holiday season. If you're a pet lover, consider fostering a dog or cat. Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, more commonly known as PAWS, has adult dogs and cats, pets with special needs, kittens, and nursing cats with litters in need of temporary homes. Volunteering opportunities are also available at PAWS locations throughout Philadelphia.
Volunteer in the Holiday Shop of the Family Service Association of Bucks County
4 Cornerstone Drive, Langhorne, PA 19047
Help shoppers sort through the donations that meet their needs, or help by sorting and stocking donations! Donate in two-hour shifts. Ideal for parents with teens.
The United Way of Bucks County
413 Hood Blvd, Fairless Hills, PA 19030
There are many opportunities on Thanksgiving as well as in the Christmas season. Submit a form indicating your volunteering interests and the organization will match you to a program.
Go directly to the Giving Factory by volunteering with Cradles to Crayons
30 Clipper Road, P.O. Box 799, W. Conshohocken, PA 19428
The organization provides for low-income and homeless children with everyday essentials. At the Giving Factory your family can help create KidPacks, with two-hour shifts to sort clothes, supplies, and toys that make their way to the girls and boys through the Giving Corps. Anyone age six and up can volunteer!
If these events are not near you or don’t work for your family, there are still plenty of ways to make a habit of giving back. The following places provide ways to make giving a part of your holiday season:
- Encourage your kids to reduce their excess before more gifts come along by holding a clean out day. Donate unwanted and gently used items to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- Make happy holiday cards and send them through Send Kids the World where your child can write to children around the world suffering from life-threatening illness.
- Host a family-friendly holiday fundraiser for an organization your family picks together. Whether you want to help the kids, animals, or the planet, you can use a site like Charity Navigator to find a credible charity or organization.
- Find a local food bank close to your address and pick a day or weekend that works for your family.
- Become a holiday sponsor for a rural family in need with the Box Project.
- Send a holiday care package to a soldier through the Adopt a Soldier program.
- Serve a holiday meal or help out food pantries and churches through Coalition Against Hunger.
- Go online and build a shoebox full of goodies for a child in need with Samaritan's Purse.
- Donate new or gently used coats to Kevin's Koats.
And keep in mind, volunteering your time might be just as simple as helping your micro-community: an elderly neighbor, an ill colleague, or a friend in need. Offer to go grocery shopping, drive them to a doctor's appointment, make them dinner, or watch their kids.
Whichever way you choose to give back this holiday season, let us know. Visit our Facebook page and share how you helped make our community a better place.
This post was originally published in 2015. It was updated in November 2018.