Happy holidays! Yes, it’s that time of year when you’re desperately trying to figure out what presents to buy your teen siblings and how much straight cash you can ask your parents for this year, but it’s also the time of year when there are so many opportunities to give back – and so many people who could benefit from your charity and good cheer. This year’s holiday volunteer guide builds on last years – highlighting some of last year’s faves and mentioning some new opportunities too.
MLK Day Volunteer Opportunities
Aspire Afterschool Learning: Make your way over to Arlington to teach students about human rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Adults will be paired with a student and will walk them through various interactive activities.
DC Urban Greens: Spend the day helping DC Urban Greens beautify their Fort Dupont Ice Arena Farm. They’ll be working from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and absolutely everyone is welcome.
Healthy Babies Project: The Healthy Babies Project is spending MLK Day with the Free Minds Book Club, which encourages creative expression in incarcerated young people. Don’t forget to bring a new or (gently) used book suitable for ages 14-18 to donate to the library!
Meridian Hill / Malcolm X Park Clean Up: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, hit up one of D.C.’s more beautiful parks for a group clean up today. Those drum circles really take a toll on the grass.
Metropolitan Branch Trail Cleanup: Are you a cyclist? Do you like taking long and serene walks down the MBT? Then get out of your house and help maintain D.C.’s longest trail. Trash bags and grabbers will be provided as will light snacks and warm refreshments.
Montgomery Parks: If you’d like to celebrate the fact that it’s no longer insanely freezing outside, then Montgomery Parks is looking for you! They’re doing a huge clean up on MLK Day that includes parks in Glenmont, Takoma, and so much more.
Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network: The YPN is looking to gather books for inmates. Bring your favorite paperback (featuring an African American author or main characters) and be sure to stay around to help them organize the donated books and write notes to inmates.
Positive Force DC: If you want to do some good while dancing to some of your favorite tunes, Positive Force is throwing a benefit concert for We Are Family DC. Ted Leo, the Max Levine Ensemble, Trophy Wife, and Laughing Man will be playing with special performances by Head Roc and Lilo Gonzalez. Cover is $10 (but there is a sliding scale) music starts at 6 p.m. and everything will be done by 10 p.m.
Student Conservation Association: If you’re looking for a large scale project, look no further. SCA is mobilizing hundreds of people to help clean up the Anacostia shoreline from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today. SCA is providing breakfast, lunch, and all the tools you’ll possibly need, but you do have to fill out the waiver online a head of time.
Holiday Volunteer Opportunities
The Holiday Project: This organization brings holiday gifts and good cheer to people in nursing homes, hospitals, and other residences where they might not otherwise have a holiday celebration. It’s a lovely idea and there are plenty of upcoming dates and locations to volunteer in the DMV.
Dreams for Kids Holiday Celebration: This organization that provides opportunities to children with physical and mental disabilities is hosting its annual Holiday Celebration on December 17th. Volunteer opportunities for the day of the event are full, but there are still options to volunteer the day after the event!
Alexandria Holiday Market: Pour wine for a good cause! This year’s holiday market in Alexandria should be lots of fun and raises money and gathers food for Hunger Free Alexandria. They are also collecting toys for the local holiday sharing toy drive.
Salvation Army: No holiday volunteer list is complete without the Salvation Army. If ringing bells isn’t your thing, you can also help out with Project Angel Tree — helping sort donations of clothes and gifts for children in need.
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue: Want to spread some love to our furry friends this holiday season? Over the holidays, Lucky Dog is in need of additional foster parents for their pups, so if you’d like to have a dog around for the holidays (or longer!), hop on over to their website and fill out their foster parent form.
The holiday season is upon us and with that comes our annual Share the Luck Holiday Donation Drive! During this time we collect supplies for our amazing shelter partners, like the items listed below. Whenever you get a chance, please drop by one of our partner locations and donate today. You can also donate at one of our Sunday adoption events or at our office (5159 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207). If you have questions, please email [email protected] Items We Are Collecting: Puppy Dog Food (Wet and Dry) Adult Dog Food (Wet and Dry) Dog & Cat Treats Cat Food (Wet and Dry) Towels/Blankets Greenies Pill Pockets/Chews Metal Crates (36 and 42 inches) Flea and Tick Treatment Dog Collars Cat Litter Dog Toys Shampoo Partners for the 2015 LDAR Share the Luck Holiday Donation Drive: Clarendon Animal Care 3000 10th Street North Arlington, VA 22201 Dogma – Shirlington Village 2772 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Arlington, VA 22206 Honest Soul Yoga 6470 Landsdowne Center Dr. Alexandria, VA 22315 Office Building 4601 Forbes Blvd Lanham, MD 20706 Oakton High School 2900 Sutton Rd Vienna, VA 22181 The Board Hound 3520 S Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington, VA 22206 Wagtime, LLC 1232 9th street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Wagtime Too 900 M street, SE Washington, DC 20003 Whole Pet Central – Ashburn 43330 Junction Plaza #176 Ashburn, VA 20147 Whole Pet Central – Herndon 304 Elden St Herndon, VA 20170
Alexandria First Night: Looking for a family-friendly way to give back on New Year’s Eve? Alexandria is looking for volunteers to help out with their First Night celebration. Volunteers usually only work one shift and are free to enjoy the festivities for the other half of the night.
Capital Area Food Bank: No time to volunteer but still want to give back? There are many good food drives happening this time of year. CAFB makes it easy to donate — look for collection bins or pre-made packages and other options to donate at your local Safeway, Harris Teeter, or Whole Foods.
Santa Claus Anonymous: Looking for opportunities in Baltimore? This organization raises money to provide gifts to children in need this Christmas. You can donate funds, dedicate a gift, or host a fundraising event.
Church of Saint Clement Christmas Trees: Saint Clement raises money through sales of Christmas trees during the holiday season. Volunteers are needed throughout the whole process, from unloading trees to helping customers find the right tree and bundle it up to take home.
December 25th Day of Service: The DC Jewish Community Center hosts a day of service on the 25th. There are all sorts of volunteer activities, many family-friendly, that last from 2-4 hours in duration and range from preparing food for the homeless, visiting seniors, painting, or throwing a Christmas party.
Arms Outstretched Ministry: the Arms Outstretched Ministry is looking for donations for those in need – from blankets to jackets to socks, there is always a need for warm clothing donations.
National Christmas Tree: If you want to spend some time on the White House lawn, the National Park Service is looking for volunteers to water the National Christmas Tree and to provide good cheer along the Pathway of Peace this holiday season.
Opportunities All Winter Long
It’s easy to focus on the importance of volunteering during the season of giving, but don’t forget that there are ways to help out year round, and plenty of organizations to help you do so!
New Hope Housing: This organization provides services to homeless individuals in the DC area. Right now, they need extra volunteers to help delivering food to those in need.
TreeStewards of Arlington/Alexandria: Join the TreeStewards and you can help improve the health of urban trees through educational programs, tree planting, and tree maintenance. Volunteers have to go through a volunteer training and commit to volunteering 30 hours over the next year. (next trainings are next year, beginning on February 21st)
Bridges to Independence: A charity for homeless women and families, this organization was ranked one of the best charities in the D.C. area by the 2014-2015 Catalogue for Philanthropy. If you want to help make the magic happen, you can volunteer to help with all sorts of tasks including tutoring, community outreach, childcare, or providing furniture moving assistance for families when they’re placed in a permanent home!
Bread for the City: If you’re looking for a more regular opportunity, Bread for the City volunteers are asked to work at least one 3 or 4 hour shift every two weeks M-F. Bread for the City provides comprehensive care to vulnerable residents in DC, ranging from food and clothing to legal assistance and medical services. As a volunteer, there are a wide variety of ways to get involved.
Smithsonian: When it’s cold outside… rush en masse to free museums! There are plenty of opportunities at the Smithsonian besides just browsing, so if you’d like to get involved on a volunteer basis to help out as a guide, museum desk specialist, or with doing something behind the scenes, there are many opportunities to be a part of this large local institution.
Food for Others: Founded in 1995, this organization provides food for those in need living in Northern Virginia. Among other duties you can help in the warehouse, with distributing food, or with office tasks.
Signature Theatre: We’re almost done with rooftop bars, it’s time for hibernating… and for seeing good shows. If you’re really into supporting theater and love watching your fair share too, check out the volunteer opportunities at Signature Theater, such as ushering shows this winter.
Carpenter’s Shelter: Winter is unsurprisingly the toughest time for shelters as it is when they usually see the most traffic and need the most support. You can volunteer at the winter shelter or drop-in shelter run by this NoVa organization. Or you can volunteer to help out with administrative tasks if that’s more your wheel house.
Back on My Feet – Yes, it’s chilly. Yes, runs start at 5:45 a.m. Yes, it’s totally worth it. Volunteers join this organization in its admirable mission of getting homeless individuals literally back on their feet through daily runs. If individuals attend runs regularly, they become eligible for additional support from BoMF, such as job training and interview opportunities. The program has seen significant success– one former BoMF runner is now manager of a local running store and club.
Food & Friends: A wonderful organization that operates in the greater DC area, Food & Friends provides meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. Volunteers can partake in everything from meal prep and delivery to special events and fundraisers.
Jewish Social Service Agency: JSSA provides volunteers with a number of different ways to give back to the community, such as delivering food to seniors, providing end of life comfort and care, or spending time with young adults on the autism spectrum.
Happy holidays and we hope you take the time to enjoy some of these activities and put a smile on someone else’s face. As always, if you have suggestions for other great organizations or holiday volunteer opportunities, please share them in the comments section!