Make a Difference during the Holidays – Volunteer at these Staten Island Locations

The holiday season is all about love, compassion and giving. Volunteering your time, expertise and services can help you share the holidays with people living in Staten Island and beyond.

Volunteering can also improve your mental health by helping you feel socially connected, warding off loneliness, reducing your risk of anxiety and depression, and boosting your self-esteem and self-confidence. Volunteerism can lower your blood pressure, improve the quality of your sleep and even help you live longer.

Volunteer Your Time, Expertise and Services at these Locations this Holiday Season

Volunteer through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), an organization created in Staten Island in 1966 by the Community Service Society. Today, RSVP volunteers can participate in the Financial Advocacy Program to boost the economic security of low-income residents through counseling and education, or help prepare the formerly incarcerated and their families to succeed at work, school and in the community.

Join more than 200 other School Reading Volunteers working in more than 30 Staten Island public elementary schools, tutoring children. Founded in 1895, Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) offers this program as part of its mission to serve Staten Island children with special needs and their families.

Become a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC. This organization matches volunteers with children and adolescents living in Staten Island or other boroughs.

VISIONS, which provides services for the blind and visually impaired, is always looking for volunteers to help with one-on-one reading sessions and escorting individuals to shopping and appointments. Volunteers can even work as “class facilitators,” by helping the visually impaired participate in knitting, quilting, yoga, meal preparation and even bowling classes.

Cathedral Community Cares provides opportunities for those who want to volunteer only through the holidays, or whose schedules do not permit them to volunteer on a regular basis. You can sort through and organize new clothing donations for the church’s Clothing Closet that provides professional and emergency clothing, for example, or volunteer for the Sunday Soup Kitchen that offers a breakfast, lunch and take-away meal.

Offer your time and services to Only Make Believe, a non-profit organization that creates and performs interactive theater for children in hospitals and care facilities. Sew costumes, join the Cape Crusade to make capes, participate in a cast party that travels to hospitals to decorate the makeshift theaters or just hold a child’s hand during the performance.

Help a four-legged friend in need this holiday season by volunteering with the Animal Care Centers of NYC. Interact with shelter pets to provide the exercise, attention and socialization they need to stay happy and healthy during their stay. Volunteers promote the adoption of shelter pets by taking photographs, writing biographies, cleaning kennels and assisting in adoption counseling.

Visit people in hospitals or supportive living environments. Staten Island University Hospital has a team of dedicated volunteers that play with pediatric patients, assist elderly patients, show visitors how to navigate the hospital’s campus and work at the gift shop. Make a special point of visiting those who do not have family or friends living nearby, or who would not otherwise receive a visit during the holidays.

Assist with holiday events at Historic Richmond Town, which is an authentic town and farm museum complex with features that date back to the mid 1600s. Holiday events include Thanksgiving Kitchen Tours, Breakfast with Santa, Candlelight Tours and Christmas in Richmond Town & Traditional Tree Lighting.

Are you free for two hours on one day each week? Become a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels during the holidays this year. Meals on Wheels volunteers have delivered nutritious, tasty food to residents of Staten Island since 1972.

Volunteer for Toys for Tots, a program run by the U.S. Marine Corps that collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes these treasures as Christmas gifts to less fortunate kids living in the community. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation relies on volunteers to help with the transportation and storage of toys, assist with toy operations at the local warehouse, lend a hand with distributing meals and more.

Participate in Project Hospitality, an organization that reaches out to those in the community that are homeless, hungry or otherwise in need of assistance. Help with meal preparation, service and cleanup in the soup kitchen, take clients shopping at the food pantry, take care of children at the homeless shelter and tutor or assist with recreational activities.

Donate your time at Encore Community Services, an organization dedicated to providing care and service to elderly people living in the area. Volunteers visit the homes of seniors, escort them on shopping excursions and other outings, pack and serve meals at the senior center, and help with various events. Learn more about other volunteer opportunities in or near Staten Island through VolunteerMatch.

Many of these organizations offer opportunities to assist year-round but, if you are like many people, you may want to limit your volunteerism to the holiday season. Fortunately, several organizations and locations allow you to volunteer as much or as little time as you are able. Prepare and distribute Christmas care baskets to children who attend your church, for example, or answer calls at a Staten Island hotline or helpline. Volunteer to wrap packages for organizations that send holiday gifts to underprivileged children. Participate in a coat drive; New York Cares hosts the largest coat drive in the city. Alice Austen House offers ongoing volunteer opportunities throughout the year.

Improve the lives of others this holiday season by checking out one of the organizations above. Also, consider learning more about The Brielle at Seaview, a non-profit assisted living and memory care community in Staten Island. We would love for you to contact us and schedule a tour so we can share our community with you!



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