Where to Volunteer in Boston

Here are some fulfilling volunteering opportunities in the Greater Boston area to consider this holiday season—or better yet, all year-round.

Illustration via Shutterstock

With the winter holidays around the corner, you might be feeling compelled to spend your free time helping others. There are hundreds of volunteering opportunities out there—soup kitchens, animal shelters, and so on. Below are just some of the many ways you can give back—during the holidays and throughout the year.


— Food —

Greater Boston Food Bank

Most volunteers at the GBFB work in the warehouse, inspecting, sorting, and packing food products. According to their website, last year more than 25,000 volunteers contributed 62,000 hours of work, worth more than $1,000,000.


Community Servings

Help Community Servings prepare and package food, deliver meals to clients, or help out at special events. During the holidays, extra volunteers are needed to help with basket sorting and meal deliveries.


Haley House

There are several different ways you can volunteer with the bakery/cafe, but during the holidays, one of their higher needs is for meal-prep volunteers in the soup kitchen while their usual collegiate helpers are out of town.



— Shelters —

Rosie’s Place

Rosie’s Place provides food and shelter for thousands of women each year. Volunteers can help with food prep, visit with the guests, and even lead workshops and teach language courses.


Pine Street Inn

With several locations around town, volunteers can assist Pine Street with breakfast service, fill-in meal service, sandwich-making, greeting guests at health clinics, and other opportunities.


The Women’s Lunch Place

WLP lists specific volunteer roles online that change throughout the year, generally in the realm of meal prep and admin assistance.


Friend’s of Boston’s Homeless

Volunteers here can help out in just about any area. In addition to helping with meal prep, painting, and planting and harvesting, you can also teach classes (work skills or hobbies) and create housewarming gift baskets.



— Children —

Boys and Girls Club of Boston

Put your teaching skills to good use by tutoring students in areas ranging from the academic to the artistic to the athletic.


Cradles to Crayons

Families can volunteer together at Cradles to Crayons, where anyone age 5 or older can help inspect, sort, and package items into “KidPacks” to be given to disadvantaged children in Massachusetts.


Christmas in the City

The nonprofit’s major annual event is a holiday party that hosts more than 3,000 homeless children. That means there are a lot of halls to deck.



Boston Living Center

Volunteers at BLC help with meals, coat check, admin duties, etc. to help support the HIV/AIDS community.


Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly

For those with no plans the day of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or other holidays, consider spending time with an elder by bringing them flowers, a holiday meal, and good company.




Keep in mind that helping out at hospitals usually requires a relatively more rigid application and training process, for good reason. Here are links to volunteering guidelines at six major hospitals in the area:

Massachusetts General Hospital

Boston Medical Center

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Tufts Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Boston Children’s Hospital



Finally, if working with humans isn’t your thing, then consider volunteering at the MSPCA or Animal Rescue League Boston. Your soon-to-be furry friends will thank you.


Animal Rescue League Boston