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NJ Places You Can Volunteer With Kids

It’s important to remember those who can’t enjoy a big meal during the holidays with their loved ones.


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Get the little ones involved in giving back at local soup kitchens and shelters this winter. They’ll learn an important lesson about caring for others, and feel good doing it.

Bridges

120 Morris Ave., Summit
908-273-0176

Bridges works with more than 2,000 volunteers every year and they deliver thousands of meals, socks, toiletry kits and more. They also give backpacks and school supplies to more than 1,000 kids. High schoolers and up are welcome to help deliver bagged lunches, hot chocolate and more to the homeless in Newark, Irvington and NYC. While individual volunteers are only taken on runs in times of need, kids of any age can help you make donatable brown bag lunches, toiletry kits and cold weather packages. Have the kids come with you to deliver your donations to Bridges, but call ahead.

COLOR A SMILE

P.O. Box 1516

166 Ridgedale Ave., Morristown
973-540-9222

Tots and teens alike can remind senior citizens, deployed troops and anyone who needs a pick-me-up that someone is thinking about them this holiday season through drawings and paintings. This is one of the few programs that has no minimum volunteer age for those who wish to donate art. Better yet? Your crew can help from the comfort of your own home. Just print a coloring page from their site, make it beautiful with crayons or markers and mail it to the org for them to deliver to someone who needs it. Not really an art person? Make a donation via mail or online instead.

Community FoodBank of New Jersey

31 Evans Terminal, Hillside; 908-355-3663
6735 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Twp.; 609-383-8843

The Community Foodbank of New Jersey, along with their partner organizations, are trying to stop hunger in the Garden State. The minimum age to volunteer is 12, but kids ages 6-11 are welcome on designated Family Days. For more information on how to help, look at cfbnj.org/help/volunteer. September and December Family Days are currently full but check back for more dates. Don’t forget to check out the volunteer schedule to find the nearest volunteer center sorted by county. To donate visit feedNJkids.org.

Community Soup Kitchen

36 South St., Morristown
973-267-0709

All new volunteers are required to attend a work activity and orientation session first in order to get acquainted with the different opportunities available. Kids ages 12 and up are welcome to help serve breakfast or a hot meal at noon, sort donations or help with a pantry transfer. The Community Soup Kitchen appreciates smaller gestures, too, such as donating canned foods, clothing, and blankets. If your kid wants to do even more for the needy, consider looking into the Youth Council for kids in grades 7-8, a group that faces homelessness head-on in the local community.

Jersey Cares

290 W. Mount Pleasant Ave., Ste. 1320, Livingston
973-533-1993

There are plenty of opportunities for tweens and teens to help out. If your teen has a green thumb, consider helping at events like Plant It Forward in Newark, where they’ll get to set up planting beds, water, weed, harvest, dig and more. Kids 12 and up need to be with an adult to volunteer for this event, but teens 16 and up can work on their own. Kids 14 and up (with an adult) can help sort donations at locations like New Eyes in Short Hills, an org that recycles donated glasses. Teens 16 and up can help out at the Marketplace in Camden by assisting with unloading and stocking food donations at TOUCH New Jersey, Inc.’s food pantry. Check the online calendar to find an opportunity.

Meals on Wheels

Nationwide locations
Donate your time and lunch break by delivering a meal to a homebound senior. This nonprofit’s more recent campaign, “America, Let’s Do Lunch,” is meant to inspire new volunteers of all ages. Take the kids to deliver nutritious meals, a visit which doubles as a friendly “hello” and a safety check. This prevents not only loneliness in the lives of these isolated seniors, but also accidental (and potentially lethal) falls. Find local programs near you by using the online search tool.

New Jersey State Veterans Memorial Home

132 Evergreen Road, Edison; 732-452-4133
1 Veterans Drive, Paramus; 201-634-8504
524 North West Boulevard, Vineland; 856-405-4213

These locales offer nursing, medical assistance, recreation and more to NJ vets (the Vineland spot is the oldest in the state!). Volunteers are welcome to play games, assist with events and simply befriend residents at the home closest to them.You can also donate items on the Resident Wish List or donate over the phone instead of going in person.

New Jersey Tree Foundation

576 Leesville Rd., Jackson
856-287-4488 (Camden)
609-439-1755 (Newark)

Lend a hand in Camden, Gloucester City or Newark by making these NJ spots a little greener. All planting events are rain or shine and start between 8:15 and 9 am. Don’t worry about bringing water, gloves or tools; the org will provide them for you, plus a hands-on demo. This group plants trees and gardens, prunes and weeds and more. Workshops are available for people “green” to gardening. This is also a seasonal volunteer opportunity, so check back in Spring or Fall to attend a planting event.

Saint John's Soup Kitchen

22 Mulberry St., Newark
973-623-0822

The 6 million meals served by this org wouldn’t have been possible without volunteers. This spot needs help cooking, serving, cleaning and more. If your time is limited but you still want to lend a helping hand, donate items the shelter needs instead of volunteering in person. You can find the items currently needed by visiting njsoupkitchen.org/needed.htm. Kids are allowed to volunteer on a case-by-case basis, so call to inquire. Children must be at least 16 and accompanied by an adult to volunteer.

Fulfill

3300 NJ-66, Neptune City
732-918-2600

Fulfill has expanded its services to providing food and resources to those in need. It also has a long list of volunteer services to get in on, depending on your interest. You can organize food drives, pack and sort donations, help out with mobile pantries and office work, help with feeding program partners and more. Volunteers must be at least age 13 but kids under 13 are encouraged to run a food drive.

Common Sense for Animals

2420 Route 57, Broadway
908-859-3060

CSA utilizes its volunteers to do more than just clean up at its animal shelter. Volunteers can participate in animal care, offsite adoptions, fundraising events, community outreach, office work, data entry and more. Volunteers age 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult when working in the shelter.

The Connection

79 Maple Street, Summit
908-273-4242

Special Needs Swim Program Volunteers assist special needs participants, ages 3 and up, with a variety of disabilities. Volunteers must be at least age 15 and comfortable in deep and shallow water. There are also opportunities for tweens and teens to volunteer and assist the Dance and Performing Arts Instructor.

Eva’s Village

393 Main Street, Paterson
973-523-6220

Volunteers can donate their time serving at the Community Kitchen, a place that serves its seated guests at their tables rather than making them wait in line for their food. Meals are served daily in the kitchen and prepared to go out to community shelters. Volunteers must be at least age 15 to serve in the Community Kitchen. All new volunteers are required to attend an orientation session.

Family Promise of Bergen County

100 Dayton Street, Ridgewood
201-833-8009

This org has volunteer opportunities dedicated to kids who want to make a difference. Kids of all ages can run a donation drive, create a fundraiser to help homeless children or participate in the annual House for Change arts and crafts project and Hike or Bike program to raise funds for homeless families. They can also join the Youth Council, where kids meet with Bergen High School students monthly to discuss ways to help the org.

TryCAN Peer Mentorship Program

5 Myrtle Avenue, Summit
908-277-2932

Peer mentors teach and assist TryCAN youth, with developmental disabilities, while they interact with peers or test out new skills, giving them confidence and providing them with a positive experience. Volunteers must be at least age 13 and must complete a $10 Mentor Training Session.

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