Where to Volunteer with Your Kids in Manhattan

Where to Volunteer with Your Kids in Manhattan

UPDATED NOVEMBER 2019: Lend a little hand in your community, and make it a family affair! We've put together a guide to some places around Manhattan that need your help, including nonprofit organizations, nursing homes, animal shelters, food pantries, and many more. Volunteer opportunities are available for children and adults alike. And remember, big or small, everyone has the power to make a difference!
 
    

Become an Island Ambassador

Volunteers with the Friends of Governors Island (ages 18 and older) can serve as Island Ambassadors, welcoming the public to the island, helping orient visitors, and informing them about the island’s past, present, and future. Green Team volunteers (ages 1618 and older) take part in gardening and landscaping projects on Governors Island Historic District and the new park. The island re-opens to the public around May 1. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Asley Davis at [email protected]. Volunteer forms can be filled out online.

Create a Fairy Tale

Galli Theater, a Manhattan-based organization that brings original fairy tales and their age-old messages to kids and hosts programs that allow kids to express themselves through acting and theater, is looking for volunteers ages 20 and older to help with theater camps. Volunteers receive certificates for their work. To volunteer, visit online and send an email expressing your interest in volunteering. For more information, email [email protected] or call 212-731-0668.

Donate Books

Donate new books and magazines to area children’s hospitals such as the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian (3959 Broadway, Washington Heights, 212-342-8651) or the Komansky Center for Children’s Health of New York-Presbyterian at Weill Cornell Medical Center (525 E. 68th St., Upper East Side, 212-746-4908).

Feed the Hungry

If you’re looking to spend a few good hours helping those in your community, head to the Food Bank for New York City to help with any of their volunteer programs. Seasonal programs include an MLK Weekend of Service, farmer’s market opportunities, connecting neighbors to tax credits and returns, and volunteering at the 2020 Food Network & Cooking Channel’s New York City Wine & Food Festival. Year-round, your family can prepare hot meals for people in need, serve meals to families in Harlem, sort, weigh, and repackage food in the Bronx, and more. For more information on how to help at the Food Bank, email [email protected], call 212-566-7855, or visit online. Main office: 39 Broadway, 10th Floor, Lower Manhattan.

Get Empowered

Project HAPPY at Hunter College’s downtown campus (425 E. 25th St., Kips Bay) strives to improve the well being of NYC’s youth and young adults with disabilities by providing them with the opportunity to participate in and be successful with individual and team sports and recreational activities. Volunteers ages 13 and older act as camp counselors and can help out in a variety of programs, from arts and crafts to weight training, dance, Frisbee, and even badminton. Volunteers must be at least 15 year old to help out with swimming classes. Volunteers must attend a one day, four-hour orientation session, which occurs twice a year. After completing orientation, volunteers make a 12-week commitment to help out on Saturdays. For more information on Project Happy, visit project-happy.org.

Go Green

GrowNYC’s environmental education program implements a service-learning model, where students go out into their communities to make real changes in the areas of conservation and alternative energy. Common activities include tree planting along the Bronx River and further upstate, during which students learn about habitat restoration and why trees are important to our ecosystem, along with watershed maintenance, during which students learn how they can help keep watersheds clean and ensure the city has healthy drinking water. Students can also become part of the Greenmarket and Youthmarket and Learn it, Grow it, Eat it (LGE), which promotes cooking and various community outreach opportunities. If your child’s school is interested in getting involved with this program, contact Diante Webb at 212-788-7900 or [email protected].

Partnerships for Parks helps New Yorkers work together to make neighborhood parks thrive. The organization has a diverse, growing network of dedicated park volunteers and groups and it provides opportunities for them to celebrate their parks, become more effective leaders in their communities, and work with government to affect decisions about their parks. Partnerships for Parks is a joint program of City Parks Foundation and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. For more information on how to get involved, visit online.

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Serve Your Community

The American Red Cross provides relief to individuals affected by disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Parents and kids ages 13 and older can help with mailings, hand out flyers at fundraising walks, help with fundraising events, or come up with their own projects to raise money for the Red Cross. Teenagers ages 14-18 can join or start a Red Cross Club at their high school. For more information or to fill out the volunteer application form, visit online.

Spread Kindness

The New York program site of Room to Grow, a nonprofit organization that strives to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty, is looking for dedicated volunteers to help prepare in-kind donations for families, organize collection drives, assist with fundraising, and get involved with many other special projects. High school student volunteers help organize and prepare inventory of infant and toddler clothing, toys, books, and equipment during the week for two-hour sessions. Room to Grow is located at 7 W. 30th St., 3rd Floor, NoMad. To volunteer, call 212-620-7800 or email [email protected].

Spring Clean Your Closet

Donate your gently used clothing, shoes, and textiles at GrowNYC Greenmarkets throughout the city. Enlist your kids in the process of cleaning out their closets before springtime. It can even turn into a fashion show to see what still fits. Take your kids with you when you donate the clothes so they can see the impact of their good efforts. For more information, visit online.

Drop-off locations include:

• 97th Street Greenmarket, West 97th Street and Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side; Fridays, 8am-2pm

• Tompkins Square Greenmarket, East 7th Street and Avenue A, East Village; Sundays, 9am-6pm

• Union Square Greenmarket, 17th Street and Union Square West, Union Square; Mondays, 8am-6pm

You can also check with your local Salvation Army thrift store for instructions on donating clothes:

• 536 W. 46th St., Hell's Kitchen; 212-757-7745

• 220 E. 23rd St., Gramercy Park; 212-532-8115

• 112 Fourth Ave., East Village; 212-673-2741

• 208 Eighth Ave., Chelsea; 212-929-5214

• 268 W. 96th St., Upper West Side; 212-663-2258

 

Start Your Own Project

DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the United States that helps young people rock causes they care about. Kids ages 12 and older take action all year through Do Something’s campaigns and their own projects (apply here). For more information, call 212-254-2390 or visit dosomething.org.

Support a Senior

At local nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, an afternoon of your company can make all the difference to someone. Take the opportunity to tackle a craft project or just sit and talk with a senior resident. If your family really wants to devote some time, you can “adopt a grandparent” and invite him/her to dinners and holiday parties. Below are several nursing homes that accept volunteers:

DOROT, an organization that mobilizes volunteers to improve the lives and health of the elderly and help them live independently, is looking for high school teens to volunteer with the teen internship program or with a parent/guardian. Volunteers visit the elderly, provide reading assistance for the visually impaired, help with shopping and other errands, and more. The organization is located at 171 W. 85th St. in the Upper West Side. To volunteer, call 212-769-2850 or email [email protected]

Volunteers of all ages (if under 18, accompanied by a parent/guardian) can volunteer with the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged to pay friendly visits to residents of senior centers during the holidays, collect much-needed goods, and more. For more information, call 212-273-5211. The Manhattan service center is located at 247 W. 37th Street, 9th Floor, Midtown.

Individuals of all ages can help out at The Carter Burden Network in any one of its volunteer programs. Volunteers aid senior citizens and their families in the community through a variety of programs including grocery shopping, and computer instruction/training. For more info call 212-879-7400.