Giving Back: Where to Volunteer This Holiday Season
The holiday season is a season of giving. But it’s not just for giving gifts — it’s also a season to give back. Giving your time to help those in need is a big part of the holidays, whether serving food or collecting toys. And local service organizations need your help!
Lyon Real Estate is proud of its community involvement, both during the holidays and throughout the year. The Lyon Cares Foundation has donated more than $1.2 million to dozens of local non-profits over the years. In addition, its annual Coat Drive has provided more than 100,000 coats to our neighbors in need. Lyon agents and staff have gotten their hands dirty to help repair houses and beautify community spaces during its annual Community Service Day.
If you’d like to make giving back part of your holiday tradition, there are numerous opportunities throughout the greater Sacramento area. Many local nonprofits could use your help in collecting and sorting food and clothing, cooking and serving meals, sending care packages to service members, and much more!
And remember, our community organizations need help beyond the holiday season, so consider donating your time throughout the year. Not sure where to start? Check volunteer sites such as HandsOn Sacramento, Volunteer Match or Just Serve to find the most pressing need in your area. Looking for opportunities for youth? Check out the City of Sacramento Youth Volunteer Directory, which lists opportunities throughout the greater Sacramento region for children and teenagers.
The Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services operates year-round, but they’re in high gear over the holidays. They welcome volunteers as young as 10 to help with tasks such as bagging, sorting, and distributing donated food. They also need help with their annual events, such as Run to Feed the Hungry, a Thanksgiving Day fun run in East Sacramento.
With branches throughout the greater Sacramento area, HARTS is a neighborhood-based group that provides resources to people experiencing homelessness. Each location provides unique services depending on local needs, including transitional housing, mentoring, warming centers, and more. Volunteers are needed to assist at respite centers, serve meals, and assist in food, clothing, and school supply drives. Contact your HART for more information.
Soldier’s Angels is an organization that provides resources and services to active service members, veterans, and their families. In the Sacramento area, they are looking for volunteers to visit veterans at the V.A Medical Center near Rancho Cordova, host special events, plan meals, and coordinate the distribution of goods and services. Prefer to help from the comfort of your own home? They also need volunteers to send letters and care packages to deployed service members, bake cookies and other sweets for deployed service members, and write greeting cards to veterans.
Based in Placerville, this local organization provides meals to needy members of the community. They are seeking volunteers to help with cooking and serving. Cooking crew positions are 12–3 p.m. daily, and serving positions are 3:30–6 p.m. They also need donations of canned/sealed foods, fresh vegetables, breads, and personal care/hygiene products.
There are numerous volunteer opportunities available at this food bank based in Woodland, including sorting, packing, distributing, and clean-up. They have a weekly drive-through event, a walk-up market, and daily food packing — all operated by volunteers. They also have an urgent needs page, and kids as young as 12 can lend a hand.
Based in Auburn, this organization helps ensure Placer County seniors have the resources they need to lead healthy lives. Volunteers visit seniors in their homes, providing much-needed companionship, assist with serving lunches at one of eight cafes, deliver food to homebound seniors via Meals on Wheels, and provide administrative support.
This Woodland-based nonprofit is seeking volunteers to help with cooking and serving meals. No cooking experience? No problem, they will provide training and easy-to-make recipes! Other opportunities include sorting and organizing their food pantry and picking up food donations.
Although based in Roseville, the Placer Food Bank actually has volunteer needs throughout the region. They need help sorting food, packing produce, and distributing food in local communities. Be sure to check their urgent needs page for the most pressing volunteer opportunities.
This Davis-based organization provides meals to seniors, low-income residents, and the unhoused community. They also assist with emergency shelter and transitional housing. They are looking for volunteers to help with Tuesday evening meals and Saturday lunch. They also need long-term help with client intakes, distributing clothing and other goods, and helping shelter and transitional housing residents.
Acres of Hope, based in Auburn, is dedicated to support women and children experiencing homelessness. They provide transitional housing, job skills, and mentoring to help women get back on their feet. They are in need of volunteers to assist at their resident campus and to work at their ReNew Store in Roseville.
The Salvation Army is one of the largest and most well-known community charities in the nation — their red kettles and ringing bells are a holiday tradition! You can enter your ZIP code and search for volunteer opportunities near you, which may include organizing food drives, distributing food or toys, or assisting at a shelter.
The Sacramento Children’s Home depends on its volunteers to provide services to children in need. Around the holidays, they need volunteers to work at their donation site to greet donors and accept, sort and track donations. They also need help with set-up and take-down. But their needs don’t end at the holidays — they need volunteers year-round to help with beautification projects, special events, community outreach, administrative work, and mentoring and tutoring at-risk children.
Located near the U.S. Davis Medical Center, the Ronald McDonald House provides lodging to families whose children are battling illness. They have both short-term and long-term volunteer needs, including preparing and serving meals, house and grounds maintenance, and baking cookies through their “Cookie Brigade” program. They also need help with events such as their drive-through donation programs.