How to Volunteer and Donate to Help Your Fellow New Yorker in Need
Many of us are counting our blessings in what has been a trying year. The pandemic has created new hardships and continuing challenges for our most vulnerable neighbors and for many New Yorkers. If looking to volunteer or donate this season and into the New Year, here are organizations that are in need and can use a helping hand.
Psst…Check out our post on Family Holiday Traditions: Bring Extra Magic to Your Holiday Season
The pandemic hurt many businesses in New York, and the restaurant industry is one of the hardest to be hit. Now that the pandemic is starting to slow down, ROAR is now in the process of creating a 501(c)(3) to fund a holistic suite of Health and Wellness Services to support New York City’s community of restaurant workers. This will offer deeply discounted (or free) health care, mental health care, financial planning services, and much more to restaurant workers.
We all know how darn hard it was to get to a market at the beginning of the pandemic. Many of us couldn’t leave the kids, and bringing them to the market was not ideal. Imagine if you are unable to get out at all? Invisible Hands is a non-profit where if you are healthy, practicing social distancing, and Covid-free, you can help your community by performing deliveries in New York. First, you join; afterward, once you set up the Slack community channel that services your area, you can start shopping for a person in need. Kind of like InstaCart, but free for the person in need, and you give the gift of your time to your community. Win-win for all.
Shop Food Bank NYC’s Amazon Wish List helps provide feminine hygiene products and other essentials for the city’s 1 million women and girls living in poverty. Make sure after you add to your cart to check the shipping address to deliver to Food Bank For New York City ATTN: Receiving’s Gift Registry Address.
Citymeals on Wheels has volunteer opportunities to deliver meals, help in the kitchen, make homemade cards, and check in on frail New Yorkers.
City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization that feeds more than 1.5 million New Yorkers. Volunteers are needed to help pre-pack produce and pantry packs for easy distribution to City Harvest partner agencies and their Mobile Markets. Check here to read their Covid safety protocols, policies, and procedures.
In the past, you may have seen the bins where a gently worn coat could be deposited and then given to New Yorker in need. This year the New York Care Coat Drive will be receiving donations directly via their community partners. It is pretty easy; using this map, you find the nearest drop-off spot, the coats they need are listed, and drop off a washed (in high temperature) coat. Make sure you call ahead to ensure the community partner is open and still accepting coats. Can’t drop off? A donation of $20 will provide one coat for a New Yorker in need.
Drop Food, Clothing, and other Essentials Off at These Community ‘Stores’
You may have spotted a refrigerator at a corner or a street nook. Most are colorful; all are filled with free food and designated areas for dry and can foods. These fridges were a lifeline to many last year in the height of the pandemic. These community-led refrigerators are still helping many New Yorkers throughout the Boros. Popular drop off’s are produce items, grains, fruits, and even baby food.
While some are known only within the community — fridges from A New World In Our Hearts, greenpointfridge and the friendly fridge can be found via Instagram. On IG, you can find updates, info on arrival, or what is needed in their area and throughout the city.
Another way to give is at some of the free stores popping up around the city. While many are not formal ‘stores,’ neighbors help each other by leaving free items for the take. Organizations like the North Brooklyn Free Store are opening up chain-like stores that offer the opportunity to donate your cherished clothing, books, school supplies, and other essentials for people in need.