The holiday season is nearly here which means many of you may be wondering…how can I volunteer with my kids in Tampa Bay?
If you’re looking for a way you can volunteer as a family this holiday season (and all year long), here are some of our favorite organizations where you can make a big impact on the lives of those in need with the kids.
Kids can volunteer at Feeding Tampa Bay
Feeding Tampa Bay allows children ages 5 and up to volunteer with their parents at the morning or afternoon warehouse volunteering sessions held daily from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
The whole family can work together to help those in need. Feeding Tampa Bay will provide kid-friendly, age-appropriate activities to bring awareness about the 1 in 4 children in our communities who go hungry, and give each family member the opportunity to learn and serve.
There are also monthly Family Nights where kids of all ages are welcome to join their parents for a night of fun and giving back. Register for warehouse volunteering and learn more about all volunteer opportunities: feedingtampabay.org.
How families can volunteer at Metropolitan Ministries
Metropolitan Ministries hosts a Holiday Tent leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas in downtown Tampa where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to make the holidays special.
More than 10,000 volunteers serve in the Holiday Tent each year distributing food and toys to thousands of families in need in Tampa Bay.
Children over 12 years old can also help prepare meals with their families in the Metropolitan Ministries kitchen. Learn more about volunteering at Metropolitan Ministries: metromin.org/volunteer.
Ring the Bell with Salvation Army as a Family
Kettle Bells will sound in early November and will keep ringing through Dec. 24. The entire family can take part in the Red Kettle tradition that began back in 1895. Money raised goes to local families for help with food, shelter and emergency assistance. You can learn more about how to take part in Tampa’s Salvation Army Kettle Bell program by visiting salvationarmyflorida.org. There are more than 100 locations throughout Hillsborough that are perfect for you and your family to ring the bells and keep the tradition of giving going.
Help collect and sort toys for Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots is the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program for helping families in need have the holiday season they deserve by collecting and distributing Christmas gifts.
Families with young children can set up toy drives to collect donations in October, November and December. Those with children over 16 can volunteer in the warehouse in the sorting process. To learn more about the Toys for Tots program, visit tampa-fl.toysfortots.org.
Volunteer with the kids at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is committed to helping homeless animals by providing shelter and care. Children aged 5 to 12 can volunteer in the Paws for Literacy program in which they read to animals to make them feel more comfortable.
Children under 16 are able to volunteer with a parent or guardian with services such as walking dogs, playing with cats, cleaning kennels, and more.
Volunteers can also collect items from the wish list to donate to the Humane Society. Register for a volunteer open house or learn more about volunteering opportunities at the Humane Society by visiting humanesocietytampa.org.
Volunteer with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful hosts big clean-up events throughout the year including a post-Gasparilla Clean-Up and the Great American Clean-up. You can learn more about an upcoming clean-up event with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful here.There are also opportunities to volunteer your time as a family with the Florida Learning Garden, a project of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Related: Volunteering as a Family Turns Time Together into Time with Purpose (Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful event featured.)
Deliver food with Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels serves seniors in the Tampa area who live independently in their own homes but require help getting the meals they need.
You can volunteer with Meals on Wheels by delivering nutritious meals and providing daily visits for the homebound seniors.
Children can help make the day brighter for seniors by riding along with their parents for meal delivery or by making gifts for the seniors to keep them from being lonely. You can visit mowtampa.volunteerhub.com to sign up to deliver meals.
Participate with Kids Helping Kids Pasco County
This nonprofit was established in 2018 by local mom Michelle Patel and they’ve already made a big difference in Pasco County.
The goal is to encourage kids to give back to their community through small acts of kindness like preparing bags of food, packing and donating backpacks of school supplies, donating entire Thanksgiving meals and meeting Christmas Wish lists.
Drives are scheduled for Thanksgiving and Christmas. To learn more, visit their Facebook page: Facebook.com/KidsHelpingKidsPasco
Donate to and volunteer with Clothes to Kids
Young ones can learn about this charity’s mission to provide free new and quality used clothing to low-income or in crisis school-age children. Then, they can help by going through their closets and choosing items to donate items for local kids in need.
Contribute to Goodwill’s Bookworks program
Since 1999, this program has put books into the hands of 40,000 kids in our eight-county area each year. To volunteer, you and your kids can donate new or gently used books or even host a book drive of your own. Kids ages 10 and up can also volunteer by becoming a Story Reader in local classrooms or helping sort, clean and prepare books for donation. Learn more at goodwill-suncoast.org
Decorate snack bags for the Ronald McDonald House
The Roland McDonald House has many opportunities for the whole family to get involved.
Children under 14 can help by making and decorating snack bags for families in the hospital, collecting items for the wish list drive, and holding penny drives to support the families.
If you have children ages 14 and up, you can volunteer by preparing dinner for resident families at one of the four Tampa Bay Ronald McDonald Houses. To learn more about Ronald McDonald House and the volunteering opportunities available, visit rmhctampabay.org.
More ways to give back in Tampa Bay:
Don’t forget about your school, PTA, church, community organizations, local diaper banks and other non-profits your family supports.
While it’s hard to find organizations where very young kids can volunteer, you can get the philanthropy seed planted early by encouraging them to donate their gently used toys, books and clothing. They can also host fundraisers or food drives.
One of our favorite trends is asking for donations for a selected non-profit instead of birthday gifts!
Local hospitals often need donations for their Child Life Departments which helps support children and teens during their stay at the hospital. Wish list items include baby toys, board games, Play-Doh, Legos and more.
- St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital: https://www.give2stjoeskids.org/wishlist/
- Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital: https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Giving
ORGANIZE A DRIVE WITH THE KIDS TO GIVE BACK
If the kids aren’t quite old enough to volunteer their time, encourage them to organize a drive to collect items like food for Feeding Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries. You can also hosts a drive to collect much needed items like diapers and other baby supplies.
The Junior League of Tampa Diaper Bank
The only diaper bank in Hillsborough County is best served by organizing a diaper drive. Host a “diaper drop” location at home, at a school or daycare or even a community location like dance class, soccer or art class. JLT’s Diaper Bank works with community partners including Metropolitan Ministries, Champions for Children, Children’s Home Network, The Spring and many more. jltampa.org/diaperbank/diaper-bank-host-a-diaper-drive/
Pinellas County’s community diaper bank provides diapers, wipes, clean clothing and other necessities such as toiletries, bottles and diaper bags to agencies around the county who then distribute them to needy families. babycyclefl.org
This grassroots, volunteer-driven organization serves underprivileged students in Hillsborough County, where more than 60 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches, and 4,700 students are identified as homeless. OASIS provides them with clothes, shoes and personal hygiene items. To find out how to collect and donate items, visit oasisopportunities.org.