Giving Back: 17 Seattle-Area Organizations That Offer Help During the Holidays
Written by Jen Betterley
Looking to give back or volunteer as an individual or a family during this holiday season? There are many great organizations in our area that could always use an extra hand in the kitchen, those old baby clothes stashed away in the closet or most of all, the community's support in helping others who are in need and struggling this year.
Below we've included more than 16 local organizations that offer volunteer opportunities during the holidays, or opportunities to donate items for families and children.
See also our family volunteering guide for more nonprofits and community organizations that offer opportunities for giving back. Every little bit helps!
Wellspring Family Services serves vulnerable individuals and families by providing social and mental health services that help strengthen families and address issues that can negatively affect their lives. Wellspring's Kids Helping Kids program is a great way for kids to get involved: kids can collect donations in a jar that Wellspring provides and then drop off the donation at Wellspring (they can even get a tour). Celebrate the program and your involvement at a Giving Together concert on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, at 1 p.m., featuring Caspar Babypants.
Everyone already knows and loves Seattle Children's for their outstanding excellence in children's healthcare, but did you know that they also have great volunteer opportunities, toy drives for patients and donation drop offs available? Check out their 'donate' and 'volunteer' sections under Ways to Help on their website for upcoming holiday gift drives, volunteer openings and much more. Seattle Children’s encourages folks to attend a holiday fundraiser in the Puget Sound area, varying from luncheons to concerts and shopping events. [SEATTLE]
WestSide Baby offers various drop-off locations for children's clothes, diapers and car seats in North Seattle, West Seattle and Burien. WestSide Baby helped over 22,000 low-income children in 2012, and has distributed over $10.25 million worth of clothing, toys, diapers and baby gear since 2001. This holiday it plans to serve more than 1,500 children with items that keep them safe, warm and dry. It also has many opportunities for families to contribute, from hosting a donation drive to sorting through clothes at home, or helping onsite during weekdays, or -- during November and December -- every Tuesday evening from 6-9 p.m. (kid ages 8-14 welcome with a parent, youth over 14 can volunteer without a parent). You can also donate to WestSide Baby to help them offer help to struggling families. [SEATTLE, BURIEN]
Founded in 1974, Solid Ground has been providing resources and care for the community and families struggling with poverty for decades. Solid Ground offers volunteer opportunities, donation programs and special monthly events with proceeds going towards the fight against poverty within the community. Individuals and families can volunteer to support one of Solid Ground’s many garden projects, youth educations efforts, or information fairs.
Hopelink has been dedicated to serving low-income families, people with disabilities, children and seniors since 1971. With locations in Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, Shoreline and Carnation, Hopelink offers various food banks and volunteer opportunities for families and individuals that are hoping to help give back. Volunteers are required to pass a background check and attend an orientation. [EASTSIDE, SHORELINE, CARNATION]
Known for being the first homeless shelter for youth in the Western United States, YouthCare has been committed to providing outreach and education, employment and housing options for low-income youth since 1974. They offer a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, including meal preparation, housekeeping, tutoring, yardwork and more, and (an easier choice for families with young kids, you can donate urgently needed items (sleeping bags, blankets, socks, etc.); they even have a handy Amazon wishlist. Check the website for information on the next volunteer information session. [SEATTLE]
Treehouse is dedicated to providing foster kids with basic necessities, along with extracurricular activities, summer camps, educational support and other resources that help children lead normal and fulfilling lives. They have numerous volunteer opportunities available. Check the website for further information on how you too can help local children in the foster care system, from hosting a holiday donation drive to taking a spin on the holiday carousel in downtown Seattle (donations benefit Treehouse). [SEATTLE]
The Rescue Mission offers services, support and facilities for the homeless and others coping with difficult life challenges. The Rescue Mission accepts donations to help feed low-income children and offers a variety of sponsorships and volunteer opportunities that are both short- and long-term. Sign up now to volunteer in the kitchen during Thanksgiving, or to help with an ongoing program at one of three Tacoma locations. [TACOMA]
The Multi-Service Center provides assistance, education, housing and employment services for individuals that are in need, the elderly and those with special needs. With operating the Federal Way Food Bank, the Multi-Service Center offers volunteer opportunities year-round and will be accepting food and clothing donations for this year's holiday and beyond. Check the Food and Clothing page for a description of items that are accepted, including food for holiday meals or winter clothing and accessories. [FEDERAL WAY]
Founded in 1968, Youth Eastside Services (YES) provides a lifeline for East King County children and families that are healing from violence, life threatening challenges, depression and drug, alcohol or sexual abuse. YES offers year-round volunteer opportunities and accepts donations that will go to benefit local children and families or the services they offer. [BELLEVUE]
Since the early 1900s, the Seattle Milk Fund has been providing low-income families with childcare resources and tuition funding while the parents are going back to school. Seattle Milk Fund offers volunteer opportunities and accepts donations year-round. On Saturday, December 7, attend the annual CookieFest at Macy’s downtown to support the Seattle Milk Fund by purchasing delicious cookies, with free arts and crafts activities for children. [SEATTLE]
Food Lifeline, located in Shoreline, is dedicated to ending hunger in Western Washington by mobilizing resources and engaging local communities, and offers family-friendly volunteer opportunities year-round, with weekly work parties where volunteers as young as 6 years old help repackage bulk donations of food for delivery to food banks and shelters. Check out their calendar for upcoming food drives and fun events that will go to benefit the Food Lifeline services and recipients. Special events for November include a holiday food drive at QFC. [SHORELINE]
North Helpline is a North Seattle food bank and a health care clinic for those in the community who are in need, with a baby and toddler-specific program, where they collect formula, baby food, diapers and supplies to help support low-income families. North Helpline as well offers short- and long-term year-round volunteer opportunities, including for families with children, and accepts food or money donations. [SEATTLE]
Northwest Harvest is known for being Washington's own statewide hunger agency relief since its founding in 1967. Northwest Harvest operates the Cherry Street Food Bank in Seattle and partners with many other food banks throughout the state. Kids ages third grade and up can volunteer in the food bank (alongside parents) and you can participate in the King 5 Home Team Harvest food drive on December 1. [SEATTLE, STATEWIDE]
Since 1977, the Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County (EFP), located in Renton, has been helping tens of thousands of citizens within the community that are in need. The EFP is always looking for volunteers to help pack food bags, staff distribution sites and host food drives. The EFP also accepts food or money donations. Check the website for upcoming food drives. You can also donate food in person or virtually through the Food of the Month program.
Find a local food bank or food distribution site in your area:
University District Food Bank in Seattle
West Seattle Food Bank in Seattle
Salt of the Earth in Everett
Rainier Valley Food Bank in Seattle
Issaquah Food Bank in Issaquah
Ballard Food Bank in Seattle
Thurston County Food Bank in Olympia
Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe
St. Leo Food Connection in Tacoma
Renewal Food Bank in Bellevue
Lynnwood Food Bank in Lynnwood
St. Mary’s Food Bank, Seattle
Greenwood Food Bank, Seattle
Food Lifeline, Shoreline
Emergency Feeding Program, Seattle
Hopelink Food Banks, several locations
North Helpline Emergency Services and Food Bank, Seattle
Multi-Service Center Food Bank, several locations
Northwest Harvest, several locations
Jubilee Women's Center, Seattle (for help preparing community meals)
Operation Sack Lunch, Seattle (for help preparing meals for the homeless); events listed on the kidserve calendar
Many neighborhood food banks welcome family volunteers
Family volunteer websites:
This article was originally written in 2010 by Jen Betterley and updated in November 2012 by Lauren Valencia.