This holiday season is shaping up to be so different from the rest. One question many people face in the Greater Boston Area is what they can still do to give back this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For those looking to volunteer, some charities and outreach organizations in the area have told us that they are able to host volunteers at their sites, while others cannot, but have to. other ways for people to contribute.
We reached out to organizations in the area that have been active over the past holiday seasons and have received 11 responses. Here is what they told us about whether or not they were accepting volunteers this year, and ” other ways you can help them:
Does your Boston-area nonprofit accept volunteers? E-mail [email protected] to consider for this list.
the Massachusetts American Red Cross is accepting volunteers and will work with Boston Public Schools as well as other local organizations in the Grove Hall area to distribute Thanksgiving food. The Red Cross also has other volunteer opportunities, including youth programs, disaster relief and blood donation.
Christmas in town is unable to accept volunteers this year and will not be holding its regular events due to the pandemic. However, it will work with a number of shelters and accept financial donations, wishlist gift donations, backpack fillers, and other requested items. Donation opportunities can be found on its website, and all contributions can be dropped off at locations in the Greater Boston Area in a totally socially distant manner.
The New England Patriots and Anheuser-Busch hosted a one-time donation drive-thru in New Hampshire with prepackaged meals for veterans.
Community services still take volunteers, although the program has been narrowed down to individual teams or small groups of five or fewer to account for social distancing. The Jamaica-based Plain organization launched its 28th Pie in the sky Thanksgiving bake sale with a total of 7,000 pies for sale, compared to about 25,000 under normal circumstances. Buying a pie allows Community Services to feed a critically ill client for a week. Community Servings says sellers are always needed and there is no minimum.
Elizabeth Peabody House in Somerville can accommodate two to three volunteers at a time in its pantry, compared to five or six before the pandemic. Volunteers are required to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask at all times. The organization provides gloves and hand sanitizer to volunteers, who are encouraged to take regular breaks to wash their hands. Donations are also accepted, via Elizabeth Peabody House’s Pay Pal, and the organization works with BostonCares to create volunteer events.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston always takes volunteers. The organization has recently started to have groups of volunteers on construction sites again, and there are opportunities for individuals to volunteer at their Restore in West Roxbury. Habitat of Greater Boston also accepts financial donations and furniture donations at the ReStore. Additionally, there are opportunities like the virtual Genesis Battlegreen Run, which people can Register to run or support a runner. Habitat also has an official car donation program, Cars for homes, where people can donate vehicles to support low-income families.
MSPCA Angell shelters in Boston, Methuen and Centerville (Cape Cod) still adopt animals by appointment. With the need for volunteers being very limited, the MSPCA said it needs financial support the most – people can donate to the programs they care about most, including Homeless Animals, Hospital for MSPCA animals or lobbying efforts. The organization holds its “Donate cats”Food drive through Nov. 22, accepting bags and boxes of unopened cat and dog food for distribution to needy pet owners in Massachusetts.
My brother’s table at Lynn accepts limited volunteers and is open daily, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Volunteers must do a COVID-19 self-test beforehand; My Brother’s Table will provide masks, aprons and gloves. All the meals it distributes are given without contact, to take out and the organization limits the number of people inside the building to maintain a social distance. Apart from volunteering, My Brother’s Table is organizing a virtual fundraising walk, Walk your block, and people can register here to make lunch and dinner bags at home. The organization is trying to collect 1,000 $ 20 gift cards from grocery stores to give out on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Gift cards can be deposited at his office until December 18.
from Boston Auberge on rue des Pins cannot host volunteers during the holiday season, but there are other ways to to be involved, like giving a week of snacks or desserts. The organization has also partnered with Saint-François House, or clothing donations can be done.
Rosie’s place had to suspend all volunteering on site due to the pandemic. However, people can still contribute this year by giving gifts to its guests. The most recent information on holiday donations is here, with more ways to get involved, including virtual food drives, on its website.
the Somerville Homeless Coalition‘s Project Soup needs volunteers to help pack bags of food or deliver groceries to those who can’t make it to her pantry. Volunteers can also work with their church or other group to cook a Monday evening meal, hosted at the First Congregational Church in Somerville. This page has more ways to help this holiday season, including distributing Thanksgiving boxes, unloading food truck shipments, and delivering Christmas trees. Donations of gifts, Christmas trees, tree stands, decorations and more can be made to the CHS Holiday fundraiser.
Toddler toys Once again collects new donations of unwrapped toys for children in need in Massachusetts. Toy donations can be dropped off at local collection sites, directly at the Toys for Tots warehouse at 21 Drydock Avenue in Boston or at any Massachusetts State Police Station or Fire Department. The deadline for sign up to be a toy drop-off site is November 26, and toys must arrive at the Toys for Tots warehouse by December 13.
United Way of Greater New Bedford will host its Hunger Heroes program to prepare 1,000 Thanksgiving meals for families in need in the New Bedford area. The number of volunteers has been reduced from the usual 300, but families can participate together, with the children. The organization will have safety protocols, such as disinfection stations, temperature checks and mask requirements. United Way of Greater New Bedford also has a amazon listing where one can buy donations to the food drive, which will be shipped directly to his office.
Victory Programs welcomes a limited number of volunteers to two of its programs in Boston, the Boston Living Center and ReVision Urban Farm. Boston Living Center volunteers can help serve meals in a limited capacity room from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. At ReVision Urban Farm, help is needed with harvesting food and preparing grow beds, with shifts available Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Victory Programs offers virtual volunteer opportunities, from job preparation programs to art and yoga classes. The organization is working on a wishlist for the holidays and accepts gift cards from preferred retailers such as Target, Amazon, Stop & Shop, Walgreens, and Old Navy. Email [email protected] for more information on donating gift cards and other items.