Where to Volunteer with Your Kids in Queens

Where to Volunteer with Your Kids in Queens

UPDATED OCTOBER 2017: Lend a little hand in your community, and make it a family affair! We've put together a guide to some places around Queens that need your help, including nonprofit organizations, nursing homes, animal shelters, food pantries, and more. Volunteer opportunities are available for children and adults alike. And remember, big or small, everyone has the power to make a difference!

Feed the Hungry

At Citymeals On-Wheels, an organization that provides food and company to the elderly housebound in New York City, you can volunteer once or sign up for a longer commitment. Volunteers younger than 16, accompanied by an adult, can help hand-deliver meals. All prospective volunteers must submit an application along with two references and attend an orientation/training session prior to beginning their volunteer work. For more information, call Sheila Clay at 212-687-1234 or email [email protected]; to download a volunteer application, visit online.

Get Empowered

The Youth Empowerment Program of Puppetry Arts (YEP!) is an arts- and civics-based youth development program for students ages 10-18 that empowers them to be stronger, proactive, and responsible citizens while building interactive relationships with each other and the community. The Youth Empowerment Program provides projects such as group art programs, mentoring, professional support, youth-led community outreach, and volunteerism. Student ages 16 and older can volunteer at community events. Students younger than 16 can volunteer with their parents as a family at community events.  Partnering with NYC schools in all five boroughs, YEP! targets teenagers from all backgrounds with special efforts for those that live within environments that lack significant role models or positive reinforcement from family or community. If your school or organization is interested in participating in YEP!, email Tim Young at [email protected] Puppetry Arts also offers internships, administration assistant positions and many more volunteer opportunities for all ages; visit here for more information.

Go Green

Alley Pond Environmental Center engages volunteers along with college and high school-aged interns (ages 14 and older) in community service through assistance with animal care, outside work, educational programs, and special events. APEC provides guidance, training, and supervision, as well as a sense of commitment and sensitivity to environmental issues. Contact the volunteer coordinator Venus Hall at 718-229-4000 x205 for volunteer opportunities, or visit online for more information. 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston.

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, Eat it, Grow it (LGE), which promotes cooking and various community outreach opportunities. GrowNYC does not formally accept volunteers younger than 18, but middle school and high school students throughout the five boroughs can get involved through programs in their schools. 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 public-private program has a diverse, growing network of dedicated park volunteers and groups and it provides opportunities for them to celebrate their parks (such as volunteering for It’s My Park Day), become more effective leaders in their communities, and work with government officials to affect decisions about their parks. There are various volunteer opportunities for all age and interest levels. For more information on how to get involved, visit cityparksfoundation.org, call 212-360-1399, or email [email protected].

Queens Botanical Garden offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for adults and teens ages 14 and older; younger audiences can volunteer at seasonal community volunteer days if they are accompanied by an adult or chaperone. Whether you like getting your hands dirty in the soil, prefer office work, or savor the excitement of special events, there are opportunities for every interest. Volunteers are interviewed and placed according to the garden’s needs, and training is provided. High school students can enroll in a summer volunteer program at the Children’s Garden. To apply, email [email protected]. For general volunteer opportunities, download the volunteer application online at queensbotanical.org or contact a volunteer coordinator at [email protected]. 43-50 Main St., Flushing.

Keep Someone Company

At local nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers, an afternoon of your time can make all the difference to someone. Volunteers can just sit and chat with residents or organize a fun activity.

For volunteer opportunities at the Steve and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, apply online. Volunteers can assist patients in the playrooms or at bedside. They can also greet visitors as they come and help out in the gift shop. Volunteers ages 14 and older can only do so during the summer program. Contact Christine Hauff, coordinator of volunteer services, at 718-470-3258 or [email protected]. 269-01 76th Ave., New Hyde Park.

Lend a Hand at the Stable

Kids ages 16 and older can get involved with GallopNYC, which brings the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding to kids and adults with developmental, emotional, social, and physical challenges. Volunteers can help with lessons, supporting riders by leading their horses and providing encouragement; lend a hand with stable work; or participate in fundraising and special programs. Volunteers sign up for two hours a week for multiple weeks. GallopNYC asks its volunteers to help with riding lessons (leading of horses) or sidewalking (two volunteers walk along either side of the horse). No experience is needed as training is provided. GallopNYC offers its programs at four locations: Bronx Equestrian Center, 9 Shore Road, Bronx; Bowling Green at Prospect Park, 397A Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn; GallopNYC Forest Hills, 8803 70th Road, Forest Hills; and Sunrise Stables, 80-89 Linden Blvd., Howard Beach. Sign up to volunteer here, or by calling 646-233-4507, or emailing [email protected].

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Make a Wish Come True

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Children in kindergarten through 12th grade can participate in Kids for Wish Kids, a program that develops project ideas to fundraise for Make-A-Wish. Take part on your own or recruit others to help. Volunteers don’t need to raise enough to sponsor a whole wish, but every little bit helps a wish come true. A bake sale, pajama days, car wash, read-a-thon, or penny drives are all great ways to start raising money. Make-A-Wish will provide balloons, buttons, banners, and other MAW items to sell. For Kids for Wish Kids, contact Kathie Lombardi at 516-944-6212 x141. For other volunteer opportunities, contact volunteer services coordinator Heather Joseph at 516-944-6212 x114, or [email protected].

Serve Your Community

March is Red Cross Month. The American Red Cross provides relief to individuals affected by disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Parents and kids age 14 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. Teens ages 14-18 can start or join a Red Cross Club at their high school. For more information or to fill out the online volunteer application, visit online. 877-733-2767.

Spring Clean Your Closet

Enlist your kids in the process of cleaning out their closets. 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 good their efforts are doing. Check with your local Salvation Army thrift store for instructions on donating clothes:

• 148-15 Archer Ave., Jamaica; 718-523-4648

• 34-02 Steinway St., Astoria; 718-472-2414

• 462 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont; 516-354-9498

• 39-11 61st St., Woodside; 718-458-1526

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 online.

Use Common Cents

Students in schools across the five boroughs can participate in Penny Harvest, the largest children’s philanthropy in the US, to raise money for different causes, including animal rescue and homelessness. Children ages 4-14 have collected pennies and turned them into grants for community organizations. Volunteers can also complete neighborhood service projects through Penny Harvest. For more information on Penny Harvest, visit pennyharvest.org or contact Teddy Gross at 212-579-0579, or by emailing [email protected].

Walk for the Cause

Head to nymetroparents.com/walks to find fundraising walks in your community. Walking together for a cause can bring your family closer together while supporting a worthy organization. It’s also a great way to get outdoors, add exercise, and make new friends. Most charity walks in the Connecticut and the New York metro area take place in the spring and fall. Be sure to plan ahead, because the sooner you register, the longer you have to raise money for the cause. Coming up: March for Babies in April and May, Bark for Life in May, AIDS Walk New York in May, Walk Now for Autism Speaks, Great Strides: Taking Steps to Cure Cystic Fibrosis in May.

Work for Water

The UNICEF Tap Project is a nationwide campaign that affords everyone the opportunity to help provide the world’s children with access to safe, clean water and basic sanitation. We don’t usually think twice about the quality of our water, but more than 748 million people around the globe do not have access to clean drinking water and approximately 1,400 children younger than age five perish from diseases linked to unsafe water or a lack of basic sanitation facilities. A one-dollar donation can provide a child with clean water for 40 days, or 40 children with access to safe water for one day. Kids can support UNICEF by organizing a lemonade stand, bake sale, car wash, or similar fundraising event and donating their proceeds. Visit online to sign up and find a list of ways to get involved.

Do Your Kids Volunteer?

See the Queens recipients of the 2016 NYMetroParents Caring Kids Awards and read their inspiring stories of community service and volunteer work.