Whether you are looking for ways to volunteer as an individual or family, or have a student looking to earn Bright Futures hours, several organizations can use a helping hand this holiday season. Below are just a few.
Meals on Wheels
What they do: Meals on Wheels is dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation by delivering meals to seniors.
How you can help: This organization relies on volunteers to deliver meals and friendly greetings to homebound seniors. A typical volunteer route takes about one hour to complete, and it is an hour that can make a world of difference to a senior living alone.
Where to start: Visit mowtampa.org/volunteer/individual to learn more and begin the application process.
What they do: Metropolitan Ministries offers comprehensive services for at-risk and homeless families in underserved and impoverished communities.
How you can help: During the holidays, Metropolitan Ministries hosts a Holiday Tent in downtown Tampa where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to create a brighter holiday for people in need. More than 10,000 volunteers serve in the Holiday Tent each year distributing food and toys to thousands of families in need in Tampa Bay. Children over 12 can also help prepare meals with their families in the Metropolitan Ministries kitchen.
Where to start: View the holiday tent schedule and sign up at metromin.volunteerhub.com/vv2/lp/TampaHolidayTent.
Feeding Tampa Bay
What they do: Feeding Tampa Bay, part of the national Feeding America network, focuses on providing food to about 1 million food-insecure families in the 10-county area of West Central Florida.
How you can help: There are several volunteer opportunities – from sorting donations in their warehouse to distributing fresh produce or serving meals in their Trinity Café. They also offer
monthly Family Nights where kids of all ages can join their parents for a night of fun and philanthropy.
Where to start: Learn about all of their volunteer opportunities and register at feedingtampabay.org/volunteer.
Ronald McDonald House
What they do: Ronald McDonald House Tampa Bay keeps families close to their children while they receive lifesaving treatment at local hospitals. They are their home away from home.
How you can help: There are several ways you can help, including providing a meal for the residents of the home. Families or groups can either prepare a meal on-site at the RMHC kitchen or bring in prepared food from a restaurant or grocery store. Meals should be planned for 20-25 people. Anyone 14 years and older can participate in making a meal onsite.
Where to start: Visit rmhctampabay.org/provide-a-meal to learn more and schedule a mealtime.
Toys for Tots
What they do: Toys for Tots is the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program that collects and distributes Christmas gifts to give families in need the holiday season they deserve.
How you can help: Help is always needed in their warehouse sorting, counting and preparing toys for distribution. Transportation of donations is also needed at times. Organizations can also host a Toys for Tots Toy Drive.
Where to start: Visit tampafl.toysfortots.org to learn more and fill out the volunteer request form.
Humane Society of Tampa Bay
What they do: The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is a non-profit that provides shelter for homeless and at-risk animals, adoptions, and hospital and veterinary services for the general public.
How you can help: There are volunteer opportunities for all ages. Children aged 5 to 12 can volunteer in the Paws for Literacy Program where they read to animals to put them at ease. Children under 16 can volunteer with a parent or guardian on a long-term or short-term basis with services such as walking dogs, playing with cats, cleaning kennels and more. Fostering is another great way to help free up much-needed space in the kennels and help an animal find its forever home.
Where to start: Register for a volunteer open house or learn more about volunteering opportunities at humanesocietytampa.org.