10 Great Local Organizations Offering Volunteer Opportunities over the Holidays
Staying in Boston during intersession? Find some time to give back
The holidays are a time of giving, but also a great time to give back. The season can be especially hard for those in need. And for the nonprofits that serve them, the need for volunteers can be especially acute. So if you’re staying in Boston during intersession and looking for something meaningful to do, check out our list of 10 great local organizations that could use your help. If you have a few hours to spare, take a look—and add some light to the darkest days of winter.
MSPCA-Angell has been serving the Boston community since 1868. Its mission is to “protect animals, relieve their suffering, advance their health and welfare, prevent cruelty, and work for a just and compassionate society.” The center provides a variety of veterinary care and adoption services and is a leader in animal protection advocacy. Among volunteer opportunities are advocacy and legislative affairs, the medical center, and the adoption center. Learn more about MSPCA-Angell and submit an application to volunteer here.
National nonprofit Cradles to Crayons serves underprivileged children and fights youth poverty. The organization, headquartered in Boston, collects donated new and nearly new children’s items—yes, everything from cradles to crayons to clothing—and distributes them to local children in need. Cradles to Crayons Boston’s Giving Factory is always seeking volunteers—individuals and groups—to help sort and inspect donated items and package them for delivery to the community. Fill out the quick inquiry form here, and a volunteer coordinator will be in touch. Volunteer opportunities are booked through this month, but there is plenty of space in January.
The Greater Boston Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England. Serving all of eastern Massachusetts, it distributed nearly 62 million pounds of food to those in need last year. Volunteers are needed to assist with inspecting fresh produce and bread, sorting nonperishable grocery items, and packaging food boxes for seniors. There are opportunities for individuals as well as groups. To apply, fill out this quick form.
Founded in 1974, Rosie’s Place was the first women’s shelter in the United States. Its mission is to provide meals, shelter, and educational services to homeless women in the Boston area. The organization helps roughly 12,000 women every year and relies on community support to function. Volunteer opportunities include teaching English, preparing and serving meals, leading arts workshops, assisting guests in the food pantry, and more. The registration process is easy, and volunteers can sign up online for up to three shifts per month.
The Boys and Girls Club of Boston (BGCB) offers accessible and affordable after-school programming to children and teens in the Boston area. BGCB’s programming ranges from education to the arts, sports, leadership, technology, and more. Volunteers serve as role models for Boston’s youth and assist in a variety of ways, including helping with homework, daily activities, administrative tasks, and more. Those volunteering must commit to one hour per week for a 12-week period and complete an orientation and online application, with background checks. BCGCB will be closed during the Boston Public Schools vacation, December 23 through January 2.
Christmas in the City is a Boston-area nonprofit that runs nondenominational holiday events for homeless and impoverished children and families. Founded in 1989, the organization is 100 percent volunteer-run, and there are opportunities year-round, not only to help run the nonprofit’s annual Christmas in the City Party during the holidays. Find a full list of opportunities here. The slots fill up fast, so check the listings or contact email@example.com with any questions.
The Boston Rescue Mission’s tagline is “Transforming Lives at Risk.” Since 1899, it has been doing just that by providing a variety of emergency and recovery programs to empower and support Boston’s homeless community become more self-sufficient. The nonprofit serves hungry and homeless adults in the Greater Boston area with emergency overnight shelter and hot meals, toiletries, and bathroom and shower facilities. There are also residential recovery programs for women and men transitioning from homelessness to independent living, for adult men who have been sober for at least 30 days, and for veterans who have been continuously homeless for more than a year. The organization needs volunteers in a variety of areas, from administrative support and preparing and serving meals to maintenance, driving, and more. The shift length and commitment requirement vary based on task. Boston Rescue Mission is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. To apply, fill out this online form.
More than Words is a combination book store and job training and youth development program that works with young adults in the Greater Boston area who are in the foster care system, homeless, out of school, or involved in the court system. It empowers them to work and earn money at its two bookstore locations. More than Words provides training in leadership skills, customer service, technology, and more. Volunteers form relationships with these youth by working alongside them in the bookstore, offering interview and résumé tutoring, and more. Those interested must make a weekly commitment and should contact volunteer@MTWyouth.org.
Pine Street Inn bills itself as “a permanent home and community for everyone.” Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the nonprofit partners with Boston’s homeless community to help them move from the streets and shelters to more permanent housing. It provides outreach, emergency services, supportive housing, job training, and employment support. Volunteers can serve meals, assist as a receptionist at the health clinic, and deliver prepared foods to individuals throughout the city. The holiday season is a busy time for the organization, so if you want to volunteer over the coming weeks, you can forgo the standard application process and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN) is a nonprofit climate justice organization that works with such allies as the Mass Climate Action Network, the Green Justice Coalition, and Mass Power Forward, with a goal of creating a green economy and addressing climate concerns of particular interest to Boston residents. Among the numerous opportunities to get involved: joining action team meetings, engaging with one of its teams (tech, research, policy, outreach, and others), attending activist events and house parties, staffing tables at fairs, testifying at public hearings, and more. Those interested can contact BCAN campaign coordinator Andy Wells-Bean at Andy@BostonCAN.org.
Have an idea for another local organization seeking volunteers over the holidays? Post it in our Comment section below.