Admittedly, this holiday season looks quite different compared to what we are used to. While our family gatherings and annual traditions may be limited, our tradition of giving during this time of year is not lost. One benefit of all that we have been through this crazy year is that we can all be very grateful for what we have and use that as motivation to help others in need. Our current situation has also created a great need in the community. We have rounded up a few great options for volunteering this year.
Keep in mind too that if volunteering if not an option for you this year, these organizations and others across WNY can always benefit from donations and those helping raise awareness of their causes. You can also always check with your local town or city to find out where there is a need in your specific community.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these listings may not be accurate or may be subject to sudden change. Please check each individual organization for updated information.
1. FeedMore WNY
FeedMore WNY is the area’s food bank that provides food assistance to individuals and families across the area (previously known as the Food Bank of WNY and Meals on Wheels program). Not only do they provide food and meals but also nutrition assistance to allow people access to education about nutrition to adults and youth. They make an incredible impact on our community and are an excellent resource for those in need of food assistance. They have plenty of volunteer opportunities all year long.
- “Angel Card” Program
- Adopt-A-Route Program
- Meal Delivery Volunteer (Erie County) *urgently needed*
- Meal Delivery Volunteer (Niagara County)
- Warehouse Volunteer (For Groups and Individuals)
2. Totally Buffalo’s Hope For The Holidays
This is one of Buffalo’s most popular holiday charities which aims to help families and children struggling this time of year. They often do toy drives and fundraisers to get these families the assistance they need. Currently, they are running their Adopt-A-Family drive in which you can donate and fulfill a family’s Amazon and Target wish-list. You can also check out their website for more opportunities
- Adopt-A-Family: Make A Case For Kids
- Check their Facebook regularly for new opportunities to help
3. The Salvation Army of Buffalo
The Salvation Army of Buffalo does work across the region all year long. Assistance includes housing, clothing, nutritional, social, and spiritual assistance through several programs and services. They have a variety of holiday giving opportunities including Toy Shoppe drives and their Angel Tree gifting where you can pick a child to give a gift to this season!
- Toy Shoppe: gift bag packing and distribution
- Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner Services (TBD)
- Angel Trees Gifting
4. Buffalo City Mission
The Buffalo City Mission is essential to the community serving the homeless and underprivileged WNY citizens. They provide assistance with meals, shelter, education, and spiritual guidance. They are continuing their Hambone Express which aims to deliver Christmas Day dinner meals to families across the region. Whether you are volunteering or donating you can find all the information on their website. They have several volunteer opportunities that you can apply for as well.
Hambone Express 2020 Positions:
- Telephone Reservationist
- Delivery Team
- Map and Thank You Attendant
- Parking Lot Direction Attendants
5. Friends Of The Night People
This organization deals with food insecurity and helping provide meals as well as help with managing the impact of poverty. Volunteers are mostly needed to help distribute meals. Find more information on what they need on their website under volunteer opportunities.
6. Journey’s End Refugee Services
This organization aims to provide services and educational opportunities to refugee families and children. From employment to English language classes they support the large refugee community in WNY. While most of their services are currently remote, they do have a volunteer and donate section on their website to be able to support families during these times.
7. Hearts For The Homeless
This organization provides clothing and food to those in need in the community. This includes their donation bins across the region which can be located right on their website. They also provide a food pantry and mobile soup kitchen to service those in need. Whether it is in their thrift store, food pantry kitchen, or mobile kitchen there are several opportunities here.
8. Catholic Charities of WNY
This charity provides a number of services to the WNY community from mental health services to warm meal delivery. They typically have a Christmas toy distribution as well. You can find all of their volunteer information on their website and get the most up to date information from the contact listed under those opportunities.
9. Your Local Toy Drive
Toy drives are the most popular holiday tradition, and most are still happening virtually and drive-up. Your best bet is to check your local parks and recreation or general town/city website to find one going on near you. If there isn’t one in your area you can always circle back to the Salvation Army and their Angel Tree or Toy Shoppe events.
10. The Annual Christmas Give-A-Way Event
This event is run by the None Like You Family Education Community. They are a non-profit located in Buffalo and aim to inform the public about environmental concerns and support green initiatives in the city. Volunteers assist with the annual distribution of meals and children’s gifts for pick up. Their volunteer information was found on the VolunteerWNY website and more information can be found on that page and by calling the number on the listing.
11. Volunteer WNY
This is a website run and supported by the United Way of WNY which aims to be a hub for all volunteer opportunities available in the area. It is a great resource for finding opportunities and where there is a strong need. You are able to search and apply right on the website which is updated often. They also have information on agencies as well.