9 Ways to Give Back in Brooklyn This Holiday Season and Beyond

CHiPS soup kitchen and women’s shelter in Park Slope. Photos via CHiPS


    Looking for a way to give to people beyond your friends and family this winter? Brooklyn has no shortage of opportunities to get involved and give back to the community. The list below is just a few of the many, many ways to do so, be it through clothing donations, empowering youth or adopting a pet.

    And many of these opportunities here are year-round, so you can keep giving even after the holiday season is over.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Coat Drive

    Photo: NY Cares

    1. Donate your used coats: Clear out your closet and donate used coats to keep someone else warm this winter. New York Cares has several options for doing so — the organization will announce its drop-off locations on November 17 — but you can also start your own coat drive or donate online by purchasing a coat off an Amazon or Target wish list.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Housing Works

    One of Housing Works’ thrift shops. Photo: Housing Works

    2. …Or, clean out your whole closet: There are endless outlets for donating clothes throughout Brooklyn. To name just a few: Housing Works (donations benefit people who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS), GrowNYC‘s many clothing and textile drop-off locations, Salvation Army and more.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY CHiPS

    A newborn at CHiPS. Photo: CHiPS

    3. Teach important life skills to young mothers: The Park Slope charity CHiPS has been around since 1971, and one of its cornerstones is the Frances Residence, which provides transitional housing for pregnant and postpartum homeless women and their infants. Volunteers can teach residents about maternal/child health and parenting, career development, cooking and budgeting, as well as assist in CHiPS soup kitchen, among many other opportunities. New volunteers can attend an orientation at 200 4th Avenue at 9 a.m. on the second Thursday of the month and 6 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY CHiPS

    Photo: JASA

    4. …Or teach crafts to seniors: The Jewish Association Serving the Aging, or JASA, has been serving elderly New Yorkers since 1968. The nonprofit is looking for volunteers to teach a number of classes to seniors, including jewelry making, knitting and crocheting, and arts and crafts, among many others. To volunteer, visit JASA’s website, call (212) 273-5353 or email volunteer@jasa.org.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Puppetry Arts

    Photo: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

    5. Feed fellow Brooklynites: Wherever you are in the borough, you’re a stone’s throw from a place where you can donate food to people in need, be it a church, soup kitchen, homeless shelter or other organization — and it doesn’t  have to be only during winter holiday season. FoodPantries.org has a comprehensive list of places to either donate or volunteer throughout Brooklyn.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Badass Brooklyn

    A pup from Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue

    6. Adopt or foster something fluffy: Want to help out a needy animal and maybe yourself too? Considering adopting a pet from any one of Brooklyn’s great animal rescue operations, such as Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, Brooklyn Animal Action, Sean Casey Animal Rescue and BARC Shelter. Not quite ready to commit? Many of these shelters have opportunities for dog walking and other animal-care volunteering.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Puppetry Arts

    Photo: Puppetry Arts

    7. Empower youth through puppets: For nearly two decades, Puppetry Arts has enriched children’s lives through puppets, with programs geared toward improving language and social skills. The organization offers many ways to volunteer, including set building, arts and crafts assistance, graphic design and more. There’s also a long list of major companies that will match the monetary or time donations of their employees.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Public Library

    Photo: Brooklyn Public Library Family

    8. …Or through books: The Brooklyn Public Library has all kinds of opportunities for volunteers of all ages. Kids and teens can help adults during youth programs and be shelf organizers, while those 18 and older can become adult literacy tutors or help adults teach English.

    Volunteer & Donate in Brooklyn NY Kickstarter

    Director Kweighbaye Kotee of The Bushwick Diaries. Photo via Kickstarter

    9. Contribute to Brookyln crowdfunding campaigns for innovators and creators, and neighbors in need: There’s no shortage of creative endeavors in Brooklyn, and many of them need a hand via various crowdfunding campaigns. Help out Brooklyn innovators, filmmakers, musicians and artists by donating. Or donate to families raising money for medical bills and other emergency needs. Browse Brooklyn crowd-funding projects on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe.

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