Opportunities to volunteer at the holidays are plentiful

Volunteers serve a hot lunch at the Franciscan Center in Baltimore.

As the air turns cold and stomachs begin to grumble for turkey and pie, many people see the approaching holidays not only as an opportunity to spend time with family and gorge on fabulous food, but also to give back to the community.

Local organizations often welcome the "holiday spirit" as an opportunity to have more helping hands to serve those in need. But many say they also hope that sentiment of giving will remain throughout the year and not fade away when the holidays are over.


This holds true for the Franciscan Center, which has more volunteers than paid staff on a daily basis. The organization on West 23rd Street in Baltimore offers services from emergency food and clothing assistance to providing job interview suits and computer access for people in need. Volunteer and In-Kind Donation Coordinator Angela Hall sees 12-25 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds each day, some who have volunteered for 26 years.

"I love our volunteers. Many of them are committed and dedicated and have been here for years," Hall said. "It's nice to be involved in the spirit of a holiday, but you have to understand that the need is all year round."


This year, the "Thanksgiving meal" will be served on Tuesday. Volunteers must be 16 years old to work on the food line, and family groups are welcome.

Though they are always grateful for volunteer work at any time, Hall said there is more need for help at the end of each month. This often happens because many clients rely on paychecks or government assistance that may not last them to the end of the month.

The opportunities to give both during and after Thanksgiving are plentiful. See the listings below for service in your area.

Anne Arundel County 

Sarah's House
2015 20th St., Fort Meade
Mission: Offers housing and other services to homeless families in Anne Arundel County.
Thanksgiving service: Volunteers may donate turkeys, canned vegetables, stuffing, rolls, and beverages for people in independent living. Drop off donations any day of the week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Serve beyond the holidays: After school tutoring program, evening childcare and front desk reception. Also need donations of paper products, toiletries, socks and underwear and diapers/baby wipes. Volunteers of all ages, families, individuals and groups welcome.

Baltimore City

My Sister's Place Women's Center
17 W. Franklin St. Baltimore, MD
Mission: Serve women and children in need in Baltimore City. 
Thanksgiving service: Need volunteers to help prepare and serve breakfast on Thanksgiving morning from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. Volunteers of all ages, families, individuals and groups welcome.
Serve beyond the holidays: Provide casseroles, serve and prepare meals, front desk assistance.
The Franciscan Center
101 W. 23rd St. Baltimore
Mission: Provides emergency assistance and services for those in need.
Thanksgiving service: Help serve a Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 10 a.m. Contact Angela Hall for more information at or 410-467-5340 ext. 113. Volunteers must be 14 years old to volunteer and 16 to serve on the food line.
Serve beyond the holidays: Serve with daily lunch program, stock food pantry, distribute clothing, office assistance, food distribution events.

Baltimore County

INNterim Housing Corporation

112 Sudbrook Ln. Pikesville



Mission: Provide housing for women and children in need and support to become self-sufficient. Thanksgiving service: Volunteers should arrive between 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving to serve food to homeless mothers and their children. Volunteers must be age 15 and up. Minors under age 18 must be with an adult guardian.

Serve beyond the holidays: Prepare dinner, provide childcare, tutor and mentor children. Need volunteers to work with children and to present relevant topics to the homeless mothers on Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Carroll County

The Shepherd's Table
P.O. Box 127 Westminster
Mission: Facilitates community events and provides services for people in Carroll County. Includes soup kitchens, clothing donations, yard sales and more.
Thanksgiving service: Drop off dinner donations on Nov. 26 between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at St. John Roman Catholic Church, 45 Monroe St., Westminster. There may also be opportunities to serve dinner. For more information, email If volunteers are under 17, they must have a parent or guardian with them.
Serve beyond the holidays: Receptionist, Back to School program, fundraising events, Festival of Trees (tree decorating, solicit for gifts to go under the trees, greeters for the event). Kathy Taylor, volunteer coordinator:

Harford County

Tabitha's House
112-D Connolly Rd. Fallston
Mission: To serve lower income and at risk families in Harford County. Serve beyond the holidays: Volunteers can come anytime Tuesday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Thursday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. to sort through donated items in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Harford Family House
53 East Bel Air Ave, Apt. 3 Aberdeen, MD
Mission: Help homeless families transition to permanent housing through housing and services. Thanksgiving service: Will accept any food donations that people would like to bring for Thanksgiving meals. No age limit for volunteers. Children must be supervised.
Serve beyond the holidays: Individuals and families can come for Third Saturday Serve on Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. - noon to help with various projects. Contact Tiffany Simmons:

Howard County

Winter Growth Inc.


5460 Ruth Keeton Way Columbia


Mission: Offers adult day and living assistance services to seniors.

Thanksgiving service: Will not be open on Thanksgiving but will offer other opportunities for service throughout the year.

Serve beyond the holidays: Volunteers can help with day activities from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Community Action Council of Howard County


6751 Columbia Gateway Dr. Columbia


Mission: To interrupt the cycle of poverty by providing services to the low-income population of Howard County.

Thanksgiving service: Help pack the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal for families in need on Monday, Nov. 24 from 5-7 p.m. Volunteers can also distribute the boxed meal items on Tuesday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Preregistration is required by phone or email. Volunteers must be at least 9 years old.

Serve beyond the holidays: Volunteer with community garden, food bank, head start program and more.