Where to Give Back and Volunteer around Boston
Give back to Greater Boston by signing up to volunteer at one of these dedicated organizations.
The holiday season is a time of joy and abundance. We share meals with friends and family, reflect on a long year, and restore for the new year ahead of us. The holidays also remind us to give thanks and show gratitude, and what better way to do so than by volunteering with the local community? Many people in the Greater Boston area are in need—and, fortunately, plenty of wonderful local organizations are committed to helping them. But the holidays aren’t the only time to help out. All of the places suggested below to volunteer around Boston accept help year-round, and are always looking for some caring people.
— Food —
American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay Food Pantry
This national food organization serves many people across the state, especially those in crisis. Its food pantries, with locations in Boston and New Bedford, assist those who cannot afford a meal. Volunteer activities here include assembling food bags and distributing groceries.
Greater Boston Food Bank
Volunteer at this food bank, which is primarily focused on serving people in Eastern Massachusetts. Last year, the bank handed out more than 50 million healthy meals to those suffering from hunger. CEO and President of Greater Boston Food Bank Catherine D’Amato told Boston in an interview last May that she thinks hunger is a solvable problem, so by volunteering or even donating food here, you can be a part of the solution. There are many activities that require assistance at the warehouse, including packing, sorting, and assembling.
Volunteer at this soup kitchen and prepare meals for those suffering from chronic illnesses, many of whom are unable to cook for themselves due to their health conditions. Community Servings prides itself on making nutritious, made-from-scratch meals. Roll up your sleeves at the kitchen and get to cutting fresh vegetables, peeling potatoes, and stirring pots. You can also sign up to deliver Thanksgiving meals to people’s homes with the organization using your own cars, so fill up the gas tank and have your GPS ready before you go. Check the calendar for volunteer availability.
CommonCare Meals Ministry
If you live in Cambridge, volunteer at this organization that cooks and prepares meals at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, a historic church that recently celebrated its 175th anniversary. Volunteers can also assist in setting up the dining room, which is designed for people to enjoy their meal and feel like they’re at home.
Haley House operates soup kitchens in Roxbury and the South End. Volunteers here are often college students who go home for winter break, so they require assistance with preparing meals and serving food especially during the holiday time.
— Shelters —
Christopher’s Haven is a low-cost housing option for children who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families — especially for when they are in between hospital visits. Many of these patients and their families find community amongst other people who are facing similar situations. If you are interested in working with families, the organization recommends group volunteering activities by hosting an arts and crafts day or throwing a birthday celebration for one of the children. Coordinate with the manager of family services and fill out this form to figure out logistics and availability.
Rosie’s Place is a shelter for homeless women that provides them with not only meals but also employment and education services. Volunteers here can work in the food pantry, teach classes, and build meaningful connections with the guests living here.
Pine Street Inn
Pine Street Inn also offers a variety of services to homeless individuals and has been serving the Boston area for more than 40 years. The shelter relies heavily on the work of volunteers throughout the year, who serve the daily meals and serve as receptionists at the health clinic.
Friend’s of Boston’s Homeless
Focused on transitional programs for the homeless, FOBH encourages volunteers to help people moving into homes of their own. You can help out by leading life skills workshops, becoming a tutor, or assembling housewarming baskets.
— Children/Education —
Casserly House serves the Roslindale community, providing people in the neighborhood with immigration services, adult education programs, and after-school programs. Volunteers can apply to be a mentor for students or help teach adult literacy classes.
Prison Book Program
If you’re interested in helping the incarcerated, consider volunteering with this organization, which is committed to providing free books to prisoners. Volunteers here respond to requests for books and mail them out to the prisons. You can also donate your own books.
Boys and Girls Club of Boston
You’ve probably heard of this organization before or maybe even know someone involved with it. Consider volunteering here this winter for a chance to work with Boston area youth by tutoring or even coaching.
Cradles to Crayons
“Cradles to Crayons” is focused on helping kids in need and provides them with new clothing, toys, and books. Opt to volunteer in the “The Giving Factory Warehouse,” where you inspect donated items and package them for distribution to the kids.
Christmas in the City
Bring Christmas to kids living in poverty this year, many of whom are homeless. This organization holds a huge annual Christmas party full of gifts, costumes, and rides for children and their families to enjoy. Volunteers help out in whatever capacity they can, from decorating the venue to working shifts for the amusement rides.
— Environment —
This Somerville-based environmental group strives to beautify the area by making green spaces and cleaning up parks and lakes. Volunteers are needed to help out in gardening projects and collecting trash in the parks.
Bikes Not Bombs
Donate your used bikes to this unique global organization, which sends them to communities in Kenya, Guatemala, and Rwanda. The bikes provide the people living there with a sustainable option for transportation and a chance to start their own bicycle businesses. Don’t have a used bike to donate but still interested? Volunteer to run a bike drive or help teach bike safety to youth.
— Hospitals —
With dozens of hospitals throughout the Boston area, consider volunteering at one of these medical centers, many of which are packed with patients during the holidays. Check out your local hospital as well. Applications to volunteer here are more extensive, so get started soon if you’re really interested. Those with some medical education or experience will be preferred by the hospitals. Volunteers here often support the hospital staff and assist nurses along with their patients. Some hospitals even offer volunteers the opportunity to work in their research labs.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Tufts Medical Center
Boston Medical Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston Children’s Hospital
— Animals —
If working with people isn’t your thing, then try volunteering with animals. Who knows—you might even make a furry friend that will make you want to return in the new year!
Animal Rescue League Boston