The holidays can be a wonderful time of celebration, laughter, food, and family. It can also be a fantastic time to come together to support your local community. At Indy with Kids, we believe that volunteering can be a full-family affair with something for every age and interest. We have highlighted some opportunities below but know that these are just some of the numerous ways that Hoosier families can give back this holiday season. Many local churches, food pantries, nursing homes, and other nonprofits are looking for singers, ringers, servers, and just extra sets of hands during this time of year. It is always worth making a phone call or sending an email to these organizations to see if they need help. If you know of other organizations that are looking for volunteers, please let Indy with Kids know. We invite you to share the seasonal spirit with your community by volunteering.
Westminster Neighborhood Services serves the children and families of Indianapolis’s Near Eastside through their education, healthcare, and food programs. Each year, with the help of volunteers, they put together Christmas baskets full of two weeks of household items and food for over 300 Hoosier families. Items for these baskets can be donated throughout November/ early December and you help assemble these baskets as a family.
Contact Lauren Rollings, Westminster’s Office Manager at 317-632-9785
Exodus Refugee Immigration welcomes refugee families and arranges food, clothing, housing, as well as education, employment, and health services for individuals starting their new lives in Indianapolis. Volunteer opportunities include sorting donations, completing special projects, and organizing storage area. These opportunities are for 8th grade youth and up accompanied by an adult and are especially suited for small groups who can volunteer on a Friday or a Saturday. Have more time to commit to this organization or looking for a long term project? Exodus is looking for welcome teams to help refugee families adjust to life in Indianapolis. Volunteer activities (must commit to a minimum of three activities) include meeting a family at the airport, setting up an apartment or house, and preparing a welcome meal.
Contact Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Kroymann at 317-921-0836.
Million Meal Movement seeks to feed the hungry and share the importance of volunteering. One of the most family friendly organizations in Indianapolis, children as young as six can volunteer as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Make protein filled complete meal packs at each of their Saturday packing events. Each meal costs around $0.25 to make, so there is a cost attached to this volunteer opportunity ($25 per child under 18, $35 per adult, or $55 per family of six). These meals go to area food pantries and service agencies to help hungry Hoosiers.
Sign up Online, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 317-863-8655
Wheeler Mission helps the homeless in Indiana. A Christian social services agency, they provide meals, housing, and entrepreneurial opportunities for men, women, and children in both Indianapolis and Bloomington. Volunteer opportunities include serving meals, housekeeping/cleaning, recreation nights, and working in their thrift store. All volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. Children 8 and up can serve meals (including on the holidays), housekeeping tasks can be done by those ages 5 and up, thrift store volunteers must by 10+, and recreation nights are open to volunteers of all ages, including infants and preschoolers!
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis seeks to always provide extraordinary experiences for families. Did you know that they are always looking for volunteers to help do this? Families with children ages 8 and up can volunteer together at the museum. Volunteer together this holiday season and see the special Jolly Days Winter Wonderland from Nov. 25, 2016–Jan. 8, 2017.
Sign up to volunteer Online
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana distributes food to over 250 partner agencies and is working towards a world where every bowl is filled. Volunteers ages 9 and up can help Gleaners by inspecting and sorting donations, assembling Commodity Supplemental Food Program boxes, or helping in the Community Cupboard store. Kids may be most engaged by volunteering with Gleaner’s Backsacks program, which is an assembly line bag stuffing project that prepares food sacks to go home with children at school so that they have meals for over the weekend.
Contact 317-825-0191 or sign up at https://www.gleaners.org/volunteer
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana provides a home for more than 5,000 families of children every year who are receiving medical care at Riley Hospital for Children and other area hospitals. Teens ages 16-18 and their accompanying adult can provide a “meal that heals” to the guests staying at the house. Groups prepare and serve a meal for 50-75 houseguests and there are opportunities to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Other volunteer opportunities that can be done by all ages include donating items off of the Ronald McDonald House’s holiday wish list or collecting pop tabs.
Sign up online to schedule meal serving/prep or call 317 944-2236.
Thank and recognize members of the military, veterans, and their families this holiday season through the Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program. Show your support with an encouraging note addressed “service member” or “veteran.” Younger children can send pictures and short messages. No glitter or extra holiday items please! Cards can be dropped off at any of the local Indiana Red Cross chapters. This is a great way to volunteer from home!
The Humane Society for Hamilton County is looking for teenagers age 16 and up to volunteer directly with cats and dogs at their shelter. Volunteer opportunities include administrative work, animal socialization, and special event help. Volunteers as young as 12, accompanied by a parent or guardian, can help with onsite cleaning tasks such as laundry and dishes. Animal lovers of all ages with parental support and permission can help foster an animal in their home.
The Salvation Army Indiana offers two volunteer options for kids and families each holiday season. Children of all ages and their adult can be part of the Red Kettle Christmas Campaign by donating two hours of time and becoming bell ringers. If you have little ones who are sensitive to cold weather, we recommend signing up for an indoor ringing opportunity. Families can also adopt an Angel this holiday season and provide gifts for a special child this holiday season. Angels can be adopted from the Angel Trees, on display in Castleton Square Mall and Greenwood Park Mall from Monday, November 14-Saturday, November 19th during normal mall hours. Families will receive an Angel Tree bag to fill with gifts such as clothing, shoes, toys, and games, which can then be returned back to the Angel Tree.
Register to Ring online or visit Castleton Square Mall and Greenwood Park Mall to Adopt an Angel
Toys for Tots is bringing joy to less fortunate children across the country this holiday season through donations of toys. Does going into a mall this time of year fill you with dread? Toys R Us and Toys for Tots have partnered this year to provide an online shopping donation option. Spend an afternoon browsing the Toys R US website with your children, make an online purchase, and figure out your child’s holiday list all from the comfort of your couch! Still like going to the store? Take the entire family out to select a toy and drop it off at any of these local Indiana donation sites.