Where to Volunteer with Your Kids in Suffolk County, Long Island

Where to Volunteer with Your Kids in Suffolk County, Long Island

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 Suffolk County, Long Island, that need your help, including nonprofit organizations, animal shelters, nursing homes, and many more. Volunteer opportunities are available for kids and adults alike at these locations. And remember, big or small, everyone has the power to make a difference!

Befriend a Furball

Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center is a “safe harbor” for companion animals. The shelter also serves the community by teaching and practicing humane behavior toward man and all living things. Save-A-Pet accepts adult volunteers: Anyone older than 18 can walk dogs, children 16 and older can work with the center’s cats, and children younger than 16 can do things off-site to help orphaned pets. Volunteers can help out in a variety of ways, from tidying up and fixing the shelter and its grounds, to bringing pet therapy to the residents of the Jefferson Ferry Assisted Living community (21 and older only; must have own dogs that pass the rescue’s criteria). To volunteer, contact Lynne Schoepfer at [email protected]. The center is located at 608 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station. For more information: 631-473-6333 or click here.

Build a Home

Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk recruits volunteers ages 16 and older to pitch in building houses for underprivileged families. Teens ages 16-17 must have an adult present. School-aged children can prepare and serve morning refreshments to work crews, help prepare and deliver lunches to the construction sites, assist new homeowners with seasonal cleanups, and assemble housewarming gift baskets. Enterprising families can also organize fundraising campaigns to raise money for building supplies. For more information, call 631-422-4828 x100 or email [email protected] for volunteer information. 643 Middle Country Road, Middle Island.

Do Something Special

Special Olympics New York aims to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Volunteers can coach athletes, raise money, coordinate events, provide office support, volunteer at one-day events, serve on local program committees, help with sport development, and more. There is a place for volunteers of all ages (kids ages 13-16 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian), abilities, and interests. For more information on sports events, contact Lindsay Coyle at [email protected] or call 631-254-1465 x4202. For more information on development, contact Jennifer Cantone at [email protected]. For more information on the organization, call 631-254-1465 x4204 or visit online. The Long Island office, which serves both Nassau and Suffolk counties, is located at 560 Broadhollow Road, Suite 106, Melville.

Feed the Hungry

Island Harvest  works to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island. The organization offers opportunities for all ages to make a difference. Kids and adults can help out at community fairs, food drives, and other events. Groups can organize “food raisers” or fundraisers with help from Island Harvest. Activities for children include participating in the Students Feeding Students Challenge, which is a school-based food and fundraising event; organizing food and/or fund drives; or volunteering with Island Harvest at street fairs and other community events. One idea is to run a themed food drive through your group or in your neighborhood, with themes such as “sandwich fixings,” or “holiday trimmings.” To become a volunteer, contact volunteer and community relations coordinator Ryan Haugstatter at 613-873-4775x228 or [email protected]. If you are planning a food drive, contact community outreach and food drive coordinator Jordan Buffa at 631-873-4775x243 or [email protected]. For more information, visit the website or call 631-873-4775. Sign up for volunteer opportunities online at islandharvest.volunteerhub.com.

Kids United Against Hunger is a project funded by United Way of Long Island that provides young people with an opportunity to volunteer at The Harry Chapin Food Bank in Hauppauge. Volunteers assist in sorting food, personal care items, household supplies, and pet food and the supplies that are delivered to the Long Island Cares network of 560 community-based member agencies. Kids United Against Hunger consists of two components: a Hunger 101 workshop in which students play scripted roles of those in need to witness firsthand what it’s like to be struck by hunger and a community service project, both of which young volunteers (ages 7-14) attend with their parents or teachers. Sessions fill quickly and are booked on a first come, first served basis. Students in seventh through 12th grades can also be part of the DREAMS for Youth Advisory Board and assist the United Way staff with decisions about the organization’s scholarship program. For more information or to register for the Kids United Against Hunger project, contact Christine Brown at 631-582-3663 x120, or [email protected]; for DREAMS for Youth Advisory Board, contact Sandra Mahoney at 631-940-3703, or [email protected]. 819 Grand Blvd., Deer Park.

Help a Family Far from Home

The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island provides a home away from home for families of seriously ill children undergoing critical medical treatment in area hospitals. RMHLI strives to provide a comfortable and supportive environment, to help families through their most difficult time. Donate a few hours of your time to help with administrative duties or represent the house at community events and distribute information to the public about its mission. Individuals and groups can also help organize and participate in fundraising events. If you’re short on time, show a little love for families far from home through comfort food—donate nonperishables to the house’s food pantry or participate in the dinner or brunch program, where your family, friends, or community organization can prepare a meal for resident families in-house. The Ronald McDonald Family Room is open at the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. The room, which provides a place to rest and relax at the hospital for the families of children undergoing medical treatment, has volunteer opportunities. Volunteers will provide reception for families, restock snacks and beverages, keep statistical records, and maintain the tidiness of the room. To find out more about what you can do, contact volunteer/program coordinator Betti McClellan at [email protected], or call 516-775-5683 x131. 267-07 76th Ave., New Hyde Park.

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Make a Wish Come True

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk County grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Kids For Wish Kids is a program that enables kids between the kindergarten and college level to devise fundraising projects such as bake sales, dance parties, and talent shows to help make local kids wishes come true. For more information on Kids For Wish Kids, or to become a registered volunteer (must be 18 years old), call 631-585-WISH (9474) or visit online. Mail inquiries to 1 Comac Loop, Suite 1A1, Ronkonkoma.  For more information, contact community relations coordinator Alexis Alpert at [email protected]

Miracles on the Field

The League of YES, formally known as the Miracle League of Long Island, believes everyone deserves the chance to play baseball. The grassroots organization will open its fourth season in May to provide people of all ages with disabilities the joy and benefits of playing America’s national pastime. The league’s mission is to develop social skills and boost self-esteem for the players while fostering community support. Through the BUDDY program, volunteers are assigned to a Miracle League player and help him or her in every aspect of the game. No matter the age of the player, volunteers, preferably ages 12 and older, help the player in batting, running bases, protecting him/her from balls, and most importantly be a friend on the field and off. The program breaks barriers for a child with disabilities when he or she becomes friends with a volunteer and this community aspect of the Miracle League is the most important statistic on the scorecard. To find out more about how to become a buddy contact Kristine Fitzpatrick at 631-278-6385 or [email protected]. The field is located at the Brookhaven Amphitheater at 55 S. Bicycle Path in Seldon. Visit online for a volunteer form.

Show Some Love

Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society is dedicated to alleviating some of the financial burdens of families with children diagnosed with cancer. Individuals of all ages can help out by volunteering their time at events or organizing their own fundraiser for the cause. Fundraising ideas include a bowling night, neighborhood garage sale, block party benefit, car wash, bake sale, or school dance. Volunteers can also donate used cars and boats. To fill out the volunteer application form, visit haveaheartcharity.org. For more information, call 631-470-1198 or visit online.

Spring Clean Your Closet

The Salvation Army has locations throughout Suffolk County and offers many opportunities for families to lend a helping hand to others in need. The Salvation Army accepts volunteers of all ages—as long as an adult is along to supervise—to work in a wide variety of programs, from soup kitchens to after-school programs. Jobs could include cooking, cleaning up, serving meals, or playing soccer with other children, but programs vary by location. For more information, call 631-363-6100 or click here.

You can also donate your old clothes to the organization’s thrift stores. 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 that they can see the good their efforts are doing. Check with your local Salvation Army Family Store for instructions on donating clothes:

• 227 Little East Neck Road, West Babylon; 631-669-1354
• 110 Bellerose Ave., East Northport; 631-754-4449
• 414 E. Main St., Patchogue; 631-654-9380
• 319 E. Main St., Riverhead; 631-727-1571

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

Broadlawn Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center offers volunteers as young as 14 (with adult supervision) the opportunity to serve senior citizens. Whether playing Bingo, attending a cooking class, transporting a resident from one program to another, or simply helping a resident write a letter, volunteers fill an irreplaceable role in the care of Broadlawn’s residents. Volunteers age 15 and older require working papers. For more information, contact Lisa Rubino at 631-264-4000 x4121 or click here. The center is located at 399 County Line Road, Amityville.

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 and 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 under 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 Long Island recipients of the 2016 NYMetroParents Caring Kids Awards and read their inspiring stories of community service and volunteer work.