Giving back is important any time of year, especially at the holidays. There are plenty of ways and places to donate and volunteer, including for #GivingTuesday and #NYGives on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to help New Yorkers in need.
Where to Donate to NYC charities
Big Apple Greeter –
World Vision Give-Back Shop in Bryant Park – Today through Wed., Nov. 29 only, see how one simple gift can help an entire community. Take a picture with a live goat, build a care kit to help in the U.S., travel to Africa in a VR experience, do a ‘water walk’, play in the 180° snow globe photo booth, and discover gifts that give back. All proceeds from this pop-up shop benefit around the world people served by World Vision, including in NYC.
New York Cares annual winter coat drive: If you have a gently used, clean coat that you no longer need, or one the kids outgrew, take it to one of the many drop-off locations throughout the five boroughs, including NYPD precincts and libraries. If you don’t have a coat to donate, you can donate money. Text COAT to 41444. A $20 donation will equals one coat for a New Yorker in need.
Citymeals-on-Wheels – Buy your holiday cards from the organization that delivers FREE hot and nutritious meals to NYC’s housebound frail and elderly. Each card pays for one holiday meal, and each sends a message to the card’s recipient that you care about New York’s housebound elderly. For your donation of $37 plus a $4 shipping and handling fee, you get five holiday cards. That sounds expensive until you realize that each card covers the cost of one holiday meal.
- God’s Love We Deliver – Another NYC charity that brings nutritious meals to those in need. Donate as little as $10 to sponsor someone’s holiday meal, or more, to continue delivering meals outside of the holiday season.
Food Bank NYC – This organization provides millions both hot meals to the homeless and others unable to prepare hot food at home, and non-perishable foods to those who can, along with other services such as free tax preparation services. You can donate food or money, or both, or sign up as a volunteer.
GrowNYC: You’ve shopped in NYC’s greenmarkets, for fresh produce, flowers and other seasonal items such as maple syrup, from family-owned local farms. GrowNYC is the organization that helps fund them, and also helps fund improved recycling in apartment buildings, establish community gardens in neighborhoods in need, and other eco-friendly projects in all five boroughs. You can donate time or money, or both.
New York Blood Center: Blood supplies usually run low around the holidays, just when they are needed most. You can help save lives by donating blood. See if you meet the criteria on who can donate and when.
Housing Works: Established in 1990 to help homeless New Yorkers living with HIV or AIDS. One of the biggest ways they do that is through their thrift shops, located throughout NYC. Donate items in good condition, including clothing including shoes, furniture, household items like glassware, and books to offload. 100 percent of the proceeds of items that are sold support its core mission.
1-800-Kars4Kids – If you want to donate your vehicle to a charity, avoid donating it to the one accused of misleading donors and misusing funds. Charity watchdog and rating groups like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch give Kars4Kids low-to-failing ratings, for “disguising the purpose” of donations, and because of the costly non-stop 1-877-Kars4Kids commercials with the appeal to “donate your car today” leave little money for actual programs. Better to donate Old Breakdown to a charity such as Citymeals-on-Wheels, Housing Works or Salvation Army, where it can be used by staff or donated to a needy New Yorker.
Where to Volunteer with NYC Charities and Agencies
In addition to what we’re listing here, check NYC Service launched in 2009 by the Bloomberg admnistration, as a guide to the many volunteer opportunities available to New Yorkers all year long, not just at the holidays.
Citymeals on Wheels: For the past 35 years, this organization has been providing elderly and homebound New Yorkers not with meals, and also companionship. Volunteer to help deliver meals, and stay awhile to help the elderly write letters, or just sit and chat with them.
- Nursing Homes – You can also volunteer at most nursing homes in NYC, to sit and chat with residents, read to those with failing eyesight, help run bingo games and such, even help deliver meals on holidays when nursing staff is short.
God’s Love We Deliver: Sign up help prepare meal kits, make meal deliveries by car or on foot, even help out in the office. If holiday shifts are already full, consider volunteering at other times of the year outside of the holiday season.
New York City Parks Department: Join the teams of volunteers who clean up green spaces throughout the five boroughs on a regular basis. The Parks Department has plenty of opportunities to pitch in, including at the park nearest you.
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Help those on the path to becoming New Yorkers by working with the city’s immigrant communities. Help them There are a few different opportunities, including assisting newcomers to sign up for IDNYC cards, which provide an official identification card to open a bank account, check out books and DVDs at libraries, FREE museum admission, and more. Your time is especially welcome if you speak one of the many languages of NYC newcomers, including to provide translation services during workshops and seminars, including legal and financial workshops and seminars.
Big Apple Greeter – This all-volunteer organization allows visitors to meet a “real” New Yorker to help them discover our city’s culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. If you are an expert in your “nabe”, consider sharing your knowledge and passion by becoming a Big Apple Greeter.
SAGE: This organization works to help New York’s LGBT seniors, especially those who may not have family or support systems. One such service is the Friendly Visiting program, to spend time, in person or over the phone,
Bowery Mission: Probably the most famous of NYC so-called “soup kitchens” providing services to homeless New Yorkers, there are plenty of ways volunteer, including helping with meal services, mentoring a younger person, or simply donate to help keep the organization’s services running.
- Food Pantries has a list of food pantries in New York State, searchable by city or zipcode, where you can offer to volunteer.
What’s your NYC charity of choice? Add your comment below.