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.
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.
120 Morris Ave., Summit
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 , colorasmile.org
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. 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
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, 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.
290 W. Mount Pleasant Ave., Ste. 1320, Livingston
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
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
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
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.