Looking for a way to give back this holiday season and involve the kids at the same time? We’ve gathered up a list of organizations that welcome even the youngest volunteers. Teach the kids how good it feels to spread some cheer this holiday season and start them off as life-long volunteers!

Give Back

photo: Glide Memorial Church

San Francisco

GLIDE Memorial Church
GLIDE’s mission is to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. Join GLIDE this season to provide hope and light for thousands of our community’s most in-need residents. This year, as they have done for decades, GLIDE will provide special holiday meals, groceries, toys and blankets to individuals and families who are struggling in San Francisco.

How to Help
Volunteer opportunities include serving food, toy donations and sorting, and much more! GLIDE is still looking for volunteers to serve Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day meals. They also have a Grocery Bag Giveaway Day on December 13 and a Toy Giveaway on December 16. Check each event’s age requirements before signing up.

Online: glide.org
Contact: Glide Volunteer Office at 415-674-6081 or volteam@glide.org

photo: Meals on Wheels

Meals On Wheels of San Francisco
Meals On Wheels of San Francisco alleviates the food insecurity and loneliness experienced by seniors who want to stay in their own home but cannot shop or prepare meals for themselves.

How to Help
Various volunteer opportunities are available, including being an at-home visitor for seniors who spend much of their days alone, shopping for seniors, helping with small in-home repairs and delivering food. Put the kids to work making cards that will make someone’s day!

Online: mowsf.org
Contact: MOWSF social worker 415-920-1111.

photo: Project Night Night

Project Night Night
Their mission is to provide free Night Night Packages to homeless children from birth to pre-teen who need essentials during this time of upheaval. Each Night Night Package contains a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book and a stuffed animal, all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag.

How to Help
Check the website for current needs which usually include new blankets, children’s books and stuffed animals. Collect these items and drop them off at the San Francisco location. Kids who want to raise money for this program can join the Be Awesome Program. Each $20 raised puts a Night Night Package into the arms of homeless child. Maybe consider this option in lieu of birthday gifts at your next kid party!

Online: projectnightnight.org
Contact: Kendra@ProjectNightNight.org

East Bay

Berkeley Food and Housing Project
Since 1970, Berkeley Food and Housing Project has been a compassionate provider of homeless services. BHFP believes that everyone has a basic right to food, housing and stability, and they work with their clients to help them develop the skills they need to move their lives forward toward independence.

How to Help
BFHP programs are always in need of in-kind donations necessary to maintain proper nutrition, personal hygiene and well-being. Individuals or groups who are interested in organizing collection drives for these items, please consult the “Wish List”. Families with older kids can also sign up to serve at the community meal.

Online: bfhp.org
Contact: 510-649-4965

photo: Second Harvest


Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties has been providing services to the community since 1974. They are one of the largest food banks in the country, providing food to nearly a quarter of a million people each month. Of those they serve, most are seniors and low-income families with children.

How to Help
Volunteer opportunities include food sorting, education and outreach, distribution and administrative services.

Online: shfb.org

Peninusla Family Services
Peninsula Family Service strengthens the community by providing children, families and older adults the support and tools to realize their full potential and lead healthy, stable lives.

How to Help
At Peninsula Family Service, there are many diverse opportunities for volunteers to give generously. With opportunities like Senior Peer Counseling, serving meals, reading with children, conducting educational workshops and working behind the scenes with their staff, there is something for everyone! You can also donate goods from their wish list.


photo: Family Giving Tree

South Bay

Family Giving Tree
Since 1990, the Family Giving Tree has fulfilled gift wishes for over one million Bay Area children from low-income households. Putting an asked-for holiday gift in the hands of a child in need, who gets little else during that time of year, brings tremendous joy. That single, specially-chosen gift lets them know that someone is thinking of them.

How to Help
You can donate gifts and toys, organize a toy drive and help sort, wrap and prepare wishes for distributions to their partner nonprofits and schools.

Contact: 408-946-3111 or elf@familygivingtree.org


San Francisco-Marin Food Bank
The SF-Marin Food Bank is the critical link between food and people. They provide food to over 30,000 families each week through 400+ non-profit partners and will distribute 48 million pounds of food this year to meet an ever-growing need in our community.

How to Help
You can volunteer in San Francisco or Marin. Sign up on their website to help out in their warehouse or with other activities. You can use their interactive map to find out where you can drop off food in San Francisco and Marin.

Online: sffoodbank.org
Contact: info@sfmfoodbank.org


photo: Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound
Homeward Bound of Marin is the county’s primary provider of shelter and services for homeless adults and families. Services include counseling, classes in financial literacy and other “life skills,” job training at the Fresh Starts Culinary Academy and other programs. Homeward Bound operates 14 inter-related residential programs ranging from emergency to transitional to permanent supportive housing for homeless families and adults, including veterans, seniors and people with persistent mental illness.

How to Help
Prepare a holiday meal, work in their Community Garden at the New Beginnings Center, prepare and deliver healthy bag lunches for kids in their Family Program, help with holiday meals and gift wrapping, etc.

Online: hbofm.org
Contact: volunteer@hbofm.org or call 415-382-3363 x. 212

At-home Ideas

Even the youngest kids can give back to the community by making cards for the troops or hosting a bake sale or lemonade stand. Check out some ideas here.

Where do you get your kids involved in volunteering? Let us know in the comments!

—Kate Loweth & Sonia Gandiaga