There’s something about December and the holidays that remind us of how fortunate we are. Dedicated volunteers have already begun organizing several services, food drives and clothing donations to help the less fortunate. Here are our top five suggestions for how you can become involved in the community.
New York Cares Coat Drive
For the past 25 years, New York Cares has been supplying thousands of New Yorkers with winter coats. Coats are absolutely essential and necessary for the colder seasons. Whether for a family in need or the homeless without means of avoiding the harsh weather, New York Cares’ keep many warm. There are several locations to drop off an old coat or a jacket you’ve outgrown — one at Pinkberry on St. Marks Place (running from Nov. 12 to Feb. 7) and another location at NYU’s own Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (dates to be decided as stated on the New York Cares website).
The Food Bank for New York City offers multiple volunteer opportunities, such as “meals on heels” in the Upper West Side, food preparation in Harlem, and a soup kitchen in Park Slope. With their holiday-specific programs, this month the Food Bank of New York City will be preparing and delivering meals throughout the city to feed the community.
HeartShare Human Services
On Dec. 19, this nonprofit organization will be partnering with the Surfside Garden Cornerstone Program to celebrate the newly-founded space for children affec-ted by Superstorm Sandy. After the storm damaged its former building, this after school program for kids aged 5 to 10 has had to relocate four times in the past year. The program fosters self-esteem in young kids and offers tutoring services and extracurricular activities. Volunteers will help run a welcome party for the event by working at arts and crafts tables, helping with games and assisting with refreshments and snacks.
Letters to Santa
The United States Postal Service on Eighth Avenue is sending children’s letters to Santa and providing a response written by volunteers. New York City boasts the largest contribution to the nationwide project with more than 500,000 response letters each year.
Virtual Food Bank
The Food Bank for New York City makes donating easy. Its online donation system and interactive web design lets givers create personal food banks that are sendable to friends and family to encourage them to donate as well.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 2 print edition. Hannah Treasure is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]