Holiday Volunteering

Parent Q&A

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  • Volunteering on Xmas eve and day?

    (1 reply)

    Archives are old. We usually go away for Xmas since we do not celebrate this holiday but...Covid.

    I’m interested in volunteering- preferably locally- Berkeley or Oakland on this holiday- perhaps allowing some who celebrate Xmas to have the day off!



    Hi - I'm sure you're looking for something structured, but wanted to say it's possible to have a lot of fun doing something of your own design too. Last year I was solo on Christmas - I woke up early, baked two dozen muffins, made a big thermos of hot tea, and took it around and offered it to people sleeping outside near Ashby Bart.  It made ME very happy! Some of they were surprised and appreciative, others not interested, but it was actually really easy to approach folks and ask if they wanted a muffin and some tea.  I think this could easily be done in a COVID safe way.  Just keep in mind many folks on the streets don't have good teeth so something soft is good. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Holiday volunteer opportunities for young kids

Dec 2014

Hi. I'm looking for holiday volunteer opportunities for me and my 6 year old daughter in the east bay (oakland or berkeley). Many projects have age restrictions. We're interested in projects working with kids, seniors, homeless people, and the environment. Thanks and happy holidays! Tamika

I had the same problem until I found Give Together. My family (including a 6 year old) had a great experience volunteering in December. More info at Kimberly

Volunteering at soup kitchens during Thanksgiving

Nov 2012

Hello, Our family would like to volunteer to serve food at soup kitchens or shelters, or do other volunteering work for the community this coming Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. We live in Kensington and hope to find locations that are not too far. Could you please guide us on how we can make this happen? Whom can we call? Which websites can we search? Thank you very much. Anonymous

I can't currently give you advice on where to go, but I just wanted to thank you for doing this. It is a beautiful thing to do, any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. I served food for two years in a row at a soup kitchen on the holidays, and my personal feeling is that it is among the most generous, loving human acts of humans, to make sure that everyone gets something to eat. My sister does it every year in New York. You will make many children happy. Good for you! Happy Thanksgiving

College Ave Presbyterian Church has been
hosting a community meal every Thanksgiving for over 20 years. You can volunteer by signing up at , emailing capc1 [at], or calling 510-638-3665. julie

Places for family to volunteer over holidays?

Nov 2011

We are interested in volunteering our time over the thanksgiving and/or christmas holidays. We already do the 'adopt-a-family' thing which is great, but for my kids (4 & 9,) i feel it is still too far removed. We are interested in something more hands-on to do as a family, like volunteering in a soup kitchen for example. Our goal is for them to truly connect with the concept that they have so much and others have so little and that we can make a difference by helping. Our 4 yr old may still be a bit young, i'm not sure, but our 9 yr old is at the perfect age, i think. any ideas or suggestions for the oakland area? Signed: mom of priviledged kids

I think there is a minimum age for soup kitchens. You might want to find out if Elizabeth House would need volunteers. They are a small home off of Alcatraz for women and their children in transition. Because they have children there, they may welcome having your children come there. They might need help with shopping and planning a meal or helping get the house ready or gift wrapping or who knows what. anon

I can't say about Oakland but I normally volunteer time every year at the Livermore Thanksgiving feast (my kids are with ex-spouse and I don't have any family to celebrate Thanksgiving so instead I volunteer for it). This Wednesday (Nov 9th) they are beginning to organize volunteers. All types of jobs (for kids and adults). I do not advise you involve kids younger than 7 to it. The kids normally can do the dinner buses (they push carts around to tables). You can deliver meals to lockins through this group as well or cook or peel pototaes or go visit Veterans at the Livermore hospital. It is well organized and very warm and friendly volunteer group. Here is a link if you want more info: marta

I would highly recommend the Davis Street Family Resource Center, right off Marina Blvd. exit of 880. They are an East Bay food bank, have an annual Toy Drive, and offer clothes and free medical care. You can find many ways to volunteer anytime from now to the end of the year. 510- 347-4620.

Valentines volunteering for moms' club

Feb 2007

My moms club is looking for a group that would enjoy about 8-10 moms+kids volunteers near Valentines Day. We had signed up to visit a nursing home, but they cancelled due to a virus that is circulating. As such, we can't include any senior homes or hospitals...and now we're looking for some other location that might appreciate our volunteer efforts sometime in February. We are trying to find something kid-friendly (ie. a local firehouse in need of help? a library? other?). If anyone has any ideas, please let us know. Thanks! Local Mom

Hi -- I am not sure which Mom's group you belong to, but the Monument Crisis Center on Monument Blvd. in Concord is a great and worthy cause. They provide bags of food staples for needy families (mostly the working poor and children), tutoring for students and English as a 2nd language classes, counseling for domestic violence. I take my 3 kids there once a week and we bag beans and rice, diapers, make thank you cards for donations, etc ... I know that they sometimes have scout troops in to help for short periods, so it might be worth a check. Their number is (925)825-7751. What a great idea~!

One idea I've done with kids is to make and decorate heart-shaped cookies, and bring them to a homeless dinner to serve on or near V-day. For serving, it might be too much for all of you to go, but everyone can decorate and bake, and then a few can go to serve. Depending on age, time, and interest, you can do some of the steps ahead of ttime - make the dough, roll it out, cut it out, even bake it, and just leave decorating to the kids. Or, purchase ready-made plain sugar cookies, and decorate them. Every cookie will be unique. Call around to find out who would appreciate the donation. R.K.

You may want to try the Sophia Project in West Oakland. sophiaproject[at] Here's info from their website: They serve children and families who are at risk of recurring homelessness and its effects. They draw their ''inspiration and methods from the insights developed by Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf School movement. The approach recognizes that within each person exists a spark, connected to the wholeness of humanity. If this spark can be nurtured, nourished and protected in the first five to seven years of life, there is the possibility for the person to maintain a connecting thread to humanity through childhood, youth and adulthood despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.'' Keep up the good work! 

Christmas Day Volunteering

Dec 2005

Our family does not celebrate Christmas and now that Joshua is 2.5 y/o I'd like to start a family holiday tradition of helping others less fortunate during the holidays. Where can we help out with a Christmas dinner? What church, soup kitchen or other organization usually needs volunteers on Dec 25th? Thanks, Bobbie

Glide Church in San Francisco is a great place to help serve a Christmas meal to the needy, and if you're lucky after your shift is over you can slip upstairs and hear the fantastic gospel choir and uplifting, politically progressive, ultra-inclusive service. It's a Bay Area institution. anon

Mom and daughter want to volunteer on Thanksgiving

November 2003

Hello; We are ''Thanksgiving orphans'' this year. Single mom and school-age daughter seeking recommendations for a place in the East Bay where we could help out on Thanksgiving, that would include children being present as both recipients and volunteers. I searched the archives but did not see such a recommendation. Any ideas? The key points being children, and in the East Bay. Thanks! Want to help out on Thanksgiving

I don't know which of these could use help, but try looking at the list at (or type into google: berkeley homeless meals, and select the Berkeley Free Clinic link). They list all the meals in Berkeley, with contact numbers you can check. R.K.

Our West Berkeley preschool is providing the food for a Thanksgiving feast (as we do every year) for Harrison House, a village located in west Berkeley that offers housing and support services for homeless families. You might contact them to inquire if it would be appropriate for you & your daughter to volunteer for this T-Day feast. Harrison House is located at 711 Harrison St, TEL: (510) 525-0843 and website info: Bruce

Family looking to volunteer on Dec. 25

November 2002

My family has decided to attempt to with hold buying gifts for eachother this holiday season (easier said than done) and instead have a group family ''experience'' in lieu of gifts. We have been contemplating several ideas including a vacation (which time is quickly escaping on us to pursue this) and we have decided to do some kind of charity work. There are 8 of us adults in this group ranging in age from 22-58. We would like to do some type of charity work right around or on Dec. 25, and something that we can all participate in. Are there any suggestions out there or have other families done any ''alternative'' things in response to the over-indulgence we often feel during the holidays? Anywhere in the Bay Area would be good-- We were thinking about volunteering a children's hospital or youth shelter...Anyone affiliated with any needy organizations, please respond. Thanks. Happy Holidays! Maggie

Raphael House is a homeless shelter for families in SF (plus they have an outreach program for needy families in Oakland). In the past they have had opportunities to help with a Christmas dinner as well as opportunites to provide Christmas gifts for needy families. (415) 474-4621. I volunteered there for 5+ years and they provide really great services for really needy people. elizabeth

Have you thought about volunteering with Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco? I work at Glide and the holidays are truly amazing here! We are still looking for volunteers to serve Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day meals. Families and groups are welcome - children over age 7 are welcome with parents. Shifts are typically 1 hour to 2 hours. We also have a Grocery Bag Giveaway day December 18, and need volunteers for that as well. Finally, we also have a Toy Giveaway on December 20, and need both toys (especially for babies and young toddlers, and teenagers - unwrapped, new toys) and folks to help out at the toy giveaway. You can call Glide's volunteer office at 415-674-6081 for more details and to sign up. Ellen

Try Community Impact. I believe their web address is They are the perfect organization for the kind of charitable giving of time and energy you seek. Good luck. S. Hall

Thanksgiving volunteering for pre-teens

November 2001

I would like to know if anyone has suggestions for doing volunteer work around the holidays. I would like to involve my 9 and 12 year old daughters. Hopfully this would extend into a regular post holiday schedule. If you know of any opportunites perhaps you could post them on the newletter for all to see. Thanks

My family has volunteered at the Alameda County Food Bank in Oakland sorting food and putting it in boxes. Jamie

I can make two recommendations on how to find a volunteer opportunity for Thanksgiving day or any time of the year. Check out . This is the premier website for volunteer opportunities. Most Bay Area non-profit agencies use this website to find volunteers for their events. You can run a search by type of service you want to perform (one-time or on-going) and also by agency category and by zip code. I also recommend Community Impact, based in the Palo Alto area, organizes one-time volunteer opportunities all over the Bay Area, mostly evening and weekend events. They coordinate the activity with the agency and all you do is sign up with them and then show up for the event which really simplfies the process. Both of these sites will let you know if their event is appropriate for children. Good luck! Whitney

I'm a long time volunteer (with my husband and 8-year-old son) at Piedmont Gardens, a retirement/nursing home off of Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. I know they need volunteers to set up and serve from 10am-2pm on Thanksgiving. You can contact Elizabeth Chamish, the volunteer coordinator at 654-7172, ext. 113. Lee