Volunteering at Local Charities This Holiday Season

Most of us belong to a network of other moms, whether it’s a playgroup, a library class, or even the moms you regularly meet up with at the park. We’re all thankful for how these friends have provided us with much needed adult conversation, and socialization for our little ones. This holiday season, why not pay that gratitude forward and get these friends together to make a difference in the lives of some local kids and families that are less fortunate? Here are some local charities that can use your help.

Hour Children

Located in Astoria, Hour Children is an organization dedicated to serving incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their families. Hour Children provides housing, employment and training, a food pantry, mentoring, prison programs, three thrift stores, and free daycare and after school programs.  These vital programs help to care for children while their moms are in prison, and reunifies families by helping moms to find education, job training, employment and affordable housing once they leave prison.

To help this awesome program, consider donating to their Hour Early Learning Program which is need of baby items, clothing for children up to twelve years, books, toys, and cleaning supplies. For more information, call or email Joedy Aliseo at joedyaliseo@gmail.com or 646-606-4001 or call the office and ask for Joedy or Sister Patricia Hanvey at (718)433-4724.

St. John’s Bread and Life

Every day, St. John’s Bread and Life serves over one thousand meals to hungry New Yorkers in Brooklyn and Queens.  This powerful agency has a twofold mission: to combat poverty and help people achieve self-sufficiency, in addition to educating the public and increasing awareness about meals to needy New Yorkers.  Bread and Life offers its clients a soup kitchen, food pantry, mobile soup kitchen, nutrition counseling, local produce link, home and family goods, medical/legal services, benefits acquisition, tax assistance and even a sponsor a family program.

A small monetary donation goes a long way. The average cost of a meal at St. John’s Bread & Life is only $1.98, meaning that a contribution of $20 ensures that 10 people in need will eat a hot meal today.  Donations can be made online or through the mail. Also, Bread and Life accepts donations of food and hygiene products. These donations are fully tax deductible and in many cases, they can arrange pick-up. To make an in-kind donation, please contact Bryan Lapoterie by e-mail or by phone at 718-574-0058, x 136

Blissful Bedrooms

Blissful Bedrooms transforms the personal spaces of young individuals who have limited resources, and have various severe, physical disabilities that make them wheelchair-dependent and highly reliant on others for activities of daily living. Why bedrooms? Because of their lack of mobility/independence and decreased opportunities in society, these young individuals with physical challenges spend a great amount of time in their bedrooms. This great organization is staffed entirely by volunteers and is dependent on the compassion and generosity of individuals and businesses to support its mission.  They can accept monetary donations on their website, or in kind donations of furniture, electronics and home improvement supplies. For more information contact Martha Gold-Dvoryadkin at (917) 287-7998 or Martha@blissfulbedrooms.org.

The Child Center of NY

The Child Center of NY helps at-risk children and youth by providing family intervention, youth development, counseling and home visiting services that help keep families healthy and intact. The Center serves 18,000 children from birth to early adulthood every year in more than 80 locations and more than 35 languages.  There are tons of ways to give right on the organization’s website so check it out! For more information, call (718) 651-7770 X202 or email your inquiry to meghanasawant@childcenterny.org.

Songs of Love

The Songs of Love Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing personalized songs for children and teens currently facing tough medical, physical or emotional challenges, free of charge. One way to donate to this organization is to donate your used car in their name. You can also donate online or organize your own fundraiser! For more information, call (718) 441-4588.

Don’t forget to involve your kids too! The holidays are a great time to demonstrate the importance of helping others to our kids. Enlist your child’s help in collecting clothing they’ve outgrown or toys they don’t play with any longer or shopping for canned food or supplies to donate. Explain to your little one that these items are being given to children who need them. It’s never too early to instill these important values in our kids.

Christine Concetta Gibson