The holiday season is a wonderful time to show how thankful you are for life’s blessings by giving to those who are less fortunate. There are many ways to give back to the community and plenty of Staten Island volunteer opportunities this year. You can donate to toy and coat drives, be a Santa Claus and visit children in need, collect food for a local food pantry, and so much more. And if you prefer to make a difference by making a monetary donation, there are many important and worthwhile organizations and charities on Staten Island that need financial support to help them continue their programs and services. Browse our guide that lists opportunities for kids, families, and individuals to help fellow Staten Islanders this holiday season.
Toy and Coat Drives in Staten Island
For the last 30 years, New York Cares has organized the city’s largest winter coat drive, gathering more than 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, visit newyorkcares.org. The organization also offers many volunteer opportunities, with more than 1,600 listed on their website per month, including opportunities for teens and kids older than 6.
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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, the fund plans to visit children at Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital on Christmas Eve. The toy drive night will be held at Castleton Corners Pub (1815 Victory Blvd.) on Dec. 4, 6-10pm. Call or email [email protected] for more information.
The organization originally began as a way to deliver toys and relief items to thousands of families affected by Hurricane Sandy. It has since helped many more children in need, whether they be children battling cancer, with a disability, experiencing homelessness, in a foster home, or who are economically disadvantaged. Details about where to drop off a toy donation will be announced soon. Call or visit the website for more information.
John Louis Sublett is once again encouraging Staten Islanders to open their hearts for children with special needs. In the past, with the help of his son, John Jr., who 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, Sublett aims to fill 400 gift bags for children attending special education schools on Staten Island. You can donate specialized toys to Toys 4 Autism on the organization’s Amazon Wish List or make a monetary donation Go Fund Me.
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 through December (deadlines vary by location). Go to toysfortots.org/donate to find local campaigns or to make a monetary donation. Learn how you can donate a toy virtually at [email protected].
The organization works to provide crisis relief services for victims of tragedies by aiding them in obtaining the help they need during the recovery process. Each year, the organization collects and distributes toys through its warehouse at 22 Brienna Court, but this year the store will be virtual. Check the website or email Dennis McKeon at [email protected] for details about drive.
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Empire Outlets has partnered with the local Salvation Army to present the annual Angel Tree. Located on Level 3 in Center Court, The Angel Tree program provides an opportunity for those who want to make a difference and bring a smile to the faces of underprivileged children during the holiday season. Customers can take a tag off the tree, purchase the gift, and bring it back for a family in need this holiday season.
How to Donate to a Food Pantry on Staten Island
1. City Harvest
City Harvest is a food rescue organization that helps to feed more than 1.5 million New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables. The organization plans to collect 111 million pounds of food this year and deliver it, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community organizations across the five boroughs. Visit the website to learn how you can help.
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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. You can donate a variety of items to their food pantry, including fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to non-perishables. Visit the website for a list of most in-demand items. Food donations can be dropped off at the Community Services Center at 514 Bay Street on weekdays from 9am-5pm. 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. Call for more information.
This South Shore food pantry works to fill the gap of food insecurity in Staten Island. It also hosts a variety of events throughout the year to help benefit the community, including health fairs and holiday events. The organization is always looking for volunteers and donations. For more information, send a message on the Facebook page.
Places to Donate Money and Volunteer Opportunities in Staten Island
The organization works to serve the Staten Island community through a variety of direct services. These services include infant and preschool day care, residential and other programs for developmentally challenged youth, social services to families in crisis, assistance to senior citizens and more. To learn how you can support the organization, visit the website.
Started by a NYPD lieutenant and his wife, Cops Care for Kids aims to help pediatric patients with long term illnesses and disabilities by providing financial and emotional support. The children receive plaques and junior police badges for their strength and bravery as well as plenty of toys. You can make a donation to support the organization electronically on its website.
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Maddie French is only 9 years old but is making a big difference in her community. The Staten Island resident recently launched Maddie’s Sweet Treats Shop where she sells her own home-made baked goods and donates part of the proceeds to a new charity each month. Past charities have been the JCC’s Sunrise Day Camp and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, both based on Staten Island. Check Maddie’s Facebook page to learn how you can–deliciously!–support the latest charity Maddie has scheduled for the holiday season.
Meals on Wheels serves to ensure elderly people in the 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 older than 18 with a driver’s license and 2 free hours one morning per week can apply to deliver meals. To make a donation or find out about volunteering, visit the website.
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. 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 projecthospitality.org. To make a monetary donation, visit the website.
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The organization works to provide crisis relief services for victims of tragedies by aiding them in obtaining the help they need during the recovery process. 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 where-to-turn.org to apply.