Giving Thanks by Giving Back

Volunteer & Donation Opportunities in Staten Island

The holidays are a wonderful time to show how thankful you are for life’s blessings by giving to those who are less fortunate. Here are some opportunities in Staten Island for those looking to give back this holiday season.




Michael Ferrara Memorial Fund
For years, Victoria Ferrara ran a holiday toy drive in memory of her son Michael, collecting toys for terminally ill children. After a yearlong break from the drive, Mrs. Ferrara decided to resurrect it, but with a twist. In lieu of a holiday toy drive, her new initiative is “Crochet, Quilt and Knit Drive for Cancer Patients.” Mrs. Ferrara is asking knitters, crotchetiers and quilters, to make blankets, slippers, chemo hats, afghans, lap throws, mittens, gloves, scarves, and regular hats for adults, children and babies. The drive will extend throughout the year with no deadline, special requests or monetary donations. “I do this in memory of my son, Michael, who passed away from leukemia, at the age of 18, in April of 1981, after a very heroic and painful one-year battle with this disease. Hence, the Michael Ferrara Memorial Fund was born. I still want to make cancer patients, of any age or gender, be comfortable, warm and happy,” she said. All items can be dropped off at 1331 Bay Street, Apt. # 512 (buzz in #512). For additional details, email [email protected] or call 929-308-0952.

Toys 4 Autism
After a successful inaugural year, John Louis Sublett is once again encouraging Staten Islanders to open their hearts for children with special needs. Last year, with the help of his son, John. Jr., who also has autism, along with the South Shore Rotary Club, he was able to fill 180 gift bags with specialized toys and distribute them to the students of P.S 37, a school for children with developmental delays. John Jr. is a former student at P.S. 37. This year, Mr. Sublett aims to fill a gift bag for all 400 children at the school and for children attending other special education schools on Staten Island. You can donate specialized toys to Toys 4 Autism at (items will be shipped directly to Mr. Sublett). You can make a monetary donation at

Richard Gardner Jr. Memorial Fund
Since 1995, the Richard Gardner Jr. Memorial Fund has held Christmas parties for sick and underprivileged children, donating thousands of toys in memory of a young police officer who was killed. Every year, the organization reaches out to underprivileged families, sick children, underprivileged day care centers, children without families, organizations assisting families of domestic violence, underprivileged churches and children with sick parents. This year, they plan to visit children at Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital on Christmas Eve. Their toy drive night will be held at Castleton Corners Pub (1815 Victory Blvd) on December 1st at 9pm. If you would like to make a donation please call 718-981-2016 or 718-273-9386, or email [email protected]

No More Ouchies
Mia Mannarino is at it again! The nine-year-old Staten Islander is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but her main mission is to help other children who are sick. She’s already generously collected hundreds of toys and thousands of fun character Band-Aids for kids in the hospital. According to her mom, these “drops” not only bring a smile to the face of children who need it, but also keep Mia’s mind off her own battle with leukemia. Her next drop will be a special one, so be sure to check her Facebook page for updates. In the meantime, contact her mom to find out how you can donate character Band-Aids to the children in the Pediatric Unit at Richmond University Medical Center in time for the holiday season. Link to her Facebook page here.

Meals on Wheels of Staten Island
Meals on Wheels serves to ensure elderly people in our community receive nutritious meals and the human connection they need to help them live independently, by delivering two meals per day to senior citizens who live alone. Anyone over 18 with a driver’s license and two free hours one morning per week can apply to deliver meals. To make a donation, go to

Where to Turn
This Staten Island-based non-profit organization runs various drives and clean-up efforts throughout the year in an effort to promote the beautification of the borough, as well as provide assistance to those in need. Their initiatives rely on the generosity of volunteers. Each winter, they host two major initiatives:
Holiday Toy Drive: This year’s collection is called “Caring for the Carolinas.” Toys collected will be distributed to victims of Hurricane Florence.To donate, email Dennis McKeon at [email protected]
Snow Shoveling for Seniors: Where to Turn recruits student volunteers every year, each of whom adopts one of the 2,500 Staten Island seniors registered and shovels for them, free of charge, when it snows. Go to to apply.

New York Cares
For the last 29 years, New York Cares has organized the city’s largest winter coat drive, gathering over 1.8 million winter coats. Last year the organization collected and distributed 109,000 winter coats to families who would have otherwise faced a long, cold winter without one. For a map of drop-off locations where you can donate a warm coat to someone in need, go to

New York Cares also offers many volunteer opportunities, with over 1,600 listed on their website per month — including opportunities for teens and kids over six years old. Go to to learn more. You can also search for volunteer opportunities from other organizations on their home page.

City Harvest
City Harvest’s goal this year is to collect one million pounds of food to help feed the city. Together with the Daily News, they are collecting non-perishable food to keep shelves stocked at hundreds of soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community food programs across the city. Any school running a drive will be automatically entered into the Kids Can Help Competition. Individuals can help City Harvest reach their goal as well. Drop off non-perishable food donations at City Harvest’s office in Midtown Manhattan, any FDNY or NYPD station, and select Goodwill or Apple Bank locations throughout the five boroughs from October 23 through January 18. Go to for more information.

Toys for Tots
Run by The U.S. Marine Corps, Toys for Tots collects and distributes toys to children in need during the holidays so they can experience the joys of the season. There are nearly 40,000 Marines, Marine Corps League members, veteran Marines and volunteers involved in annual campaigns nationwide. They are accepting brand new, unopened, unwrapped toys or monetary donations for less fortunate children in the community until early December (deadlines vary by location). 2018 collection locations will be announced soon. Go to to find local campaigns or to make a monetary donation. Or just keep an eye out for those big drop off boxes with the familar choo-choo-train Toys for Tots logo at local establishments near you.

Project Hospitality
This Staten Island-based organization serves the hungry and homeless, as well as people living with HIV & AIDS, the mentally ill and people battling addiction. Last year they served almost 1.8 million meals out of their Community Service Center in Stapleton and 26 mobile pantry sites across Staten Island, including new stops in Tottenville and Prince’s Bay.

They are always looking for volunteers, ages 16 and older, to assist in their soup kitchen, food and clothing pantries, with child care services, tutoring, fundraising events and more. For more information on volunteering and to download an application, go to

You can donate a variety of items to their food pantry, including fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to non-perishables. For a list of most in-demand items, go to Food donations can be dropped off at the Community Services Center at 514 Bay Street on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also donate holiday supplies, including turkeys and food for a holiday feast, holiday gifts and toys, Halloween costumes and Easter baskets and other holiday items. You can call EJ Emerson at 718-448-1544, ext. 173, or e-mail her at [email protected] if you wish to help with holiday needs.

To make a monetary donation, go to

Each year, the Catholic Charities Adopt-A-Family Program serves hundreds of families during the holidays, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Through the Adopt-A-Family Program, you can help provide holiday gifts and winter necessities to families in need. After you fill out a Participation Form on the Catholic Charities website, you will be matched with a family. To learn more about the Adopt-A-Family Program, email [email protected] or call 646-794-2436. Visit for info.

Person Centered Care Services Holiday Drive
Person Centered Care Services is a non-profit organization supporting people with disabilities on their search for identity and acceptance. They are giving nearly 350 children at P.S.37R, a reason to be cheerful this holiday season by delivering gifts they have individually requested. You can help with a small donation online. Go to their website to learn more.

Find Staten Island Volunteer Opportunities at

Find Staten Island Food Pantries at

Hosting a Food or Toy Drive for the Holidays? Email [email protected] to be included on this list.