Western Queens is spinning with holiday cheer: lights hang on the trees, storefronts burst with red and green, and joy is in the air.
If you’re looking to spread the joy to those in need this season, look no further than your own backyard. Charities and organizations are always in need of volunteers and donations, especially around the holidays.
And you should never doubt that your small acts of kindness can make a big difference:
“I recall being in my country looking forward to when the Pepsi truck would come,” said Soraya Gomez, manager of Access Self Storage, a local drop-off location for Toys for Tots this year. “They usually came around Christmas and handed out a toy to each child in certain areas. I remember the happiness these toys would bring.”
From toy and food donation to environmental cleanup, we’ve compiled a list of charities and organizations located in Astoria, Sunnyside and Long Island City that need your help this month. There’s something for every type of volunteer, so pick a cause and make your mark!
1. Goodwill NYNJ Holiday Events and Camp
Like to face-paint or craft? Put those skills to use by helping out a children’s holiday camp with Goodwill NYNJ!
Put a smile on a kid’s face by running all sorts of activities as a volunteer this winter break, or help distribute food and toys at one of Goodwill NYNJ’s annual holiday events.
“I want to tell New Yorkers that when they shop or donate their unwanted clothing or household goods at their local Goodwill store, they are supporting our mission of empowering individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment to gain independence through the power of work,” said Goodwill NYNJ President and CEO Katy Gaul-Stigge.
Volunteers can contact Sofia Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Beacon I.S. 10
45-11 31st Ave., LIC
Holiday Event: Dec. 8 at 5 p.m.
Holiday Camp: Dec. 27-30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Beacon JHS 141
37-11 21st Ave., LIC
Holiday Event: Dec. 23 at 5 p.m.
Holiday Camp: Dec. 27-30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2. Citymeals on Wheels
Make a neighbor’s holiday a little brighter by delivering warm meals to the elderly in your area. Citymeals is always in need of volunteers to help deliver food throughout the city on weekends and holidays. Ensure that no one will go hungry this Christmas – bring the whole family to help out, and see the direct impact you’re making in your neighborhood. If crafting is more your speed, you can also sign up to make holiday cards to be delivered!
For more information and to sign up, visit citymeals.org/holiday-volunteering or email email@example.com.
3. Big Reuse
Roll up your sleeves and put that green thumb to work by helping out the environment this season. Big Reuse has volunteer opportunities year-round for those passionate about our planet. If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, their compost project with New York Cares, “Compost Give-Back,” is coming up on Dec. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. At the end of the event, Big Reuse will be giving away locally made compost!
To sign up, visit bigreuse.org/volunteer.
Queens Plaza S. & 10th St., LIC
4. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
With all the holiday events and parties going on this season, there’s bound to be mountains of leftover food — but don’t throw it all away! Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is dedicated to feeding the hungry by collecting and distributing leftover food. You can sign up as a volunteer to help collect food throughout the city, or if you have food left over from an office holiday party, you can contact their team to collect it.
To sign up and learn more, visit rescuingleftovercuisine.org/volunteer.
5. Housing Works
Want to help fight HIV/AIDS and homelessness in just a few hours? Housing Works has volunteer opportunities right here in western Queens every day of the week! Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., come help process donations that will go to Housing Works’ 13 citywide thrift shops. Volunteers at their Processing and Distribution Center will help sort donations, tag merchandise and organize inventory. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit housingworks.org/volunteer and click on “Group Volunteerism,” where you’ll find details about the LIC Processing and Distribution Center (you can volunteer there as an individual or as a group).
48-49 35th St., LIC
1. Toys for Tots
When you’re out holiday shopping, pick up an extra toy to give to a child in need. The annual Toys for Tots program collects new toy donations from around the U.S. and distributes them to children for Christmas. Each donation location will give the toys to children in that specific community, so you can directly impact those in your own neighborhood!
For more information on how to donate,
Eastern Generation/Astoria Generating Company
18-01 20th Ave., Gate 1, Astoria
Astoria Generating Company is also currently hosting a clothing and food drive through Dec. 15!
Long Island City:
Access Self Storage
29-00 Review Ave., LIC
2. New York Cares Coat Drive
As New Yorkers, you know that these winters get tough. Keep your community warm by donating an old winter coat. New York Cares runs a coat drive each winter at locations throughout the five boroughs. This year, our very own Sunnyside Library will host a coat drop-off site. Swing by today through Dec. 31 and help fellow New Yorkers stay safe this holiday season. For more information, visit newyorkcares.org/coat-drive.
43-06 Greenpoint Ave., LIC
1. A Story of Astoria and Urban Upbound
You can have a fun night out and give back to your community at the same time!
An Astoria Instagram account, @astoryofastoria, is hosting their second annual fundraiser for Urban Upbound (urbanupbound.org), an Astoria-based organization dedicated to breaking poverty cycles in public housing neighborhoods by providing those in need with resources to gain economic stability. The event is packed with local flavor, including donated food from six local restaurants, raffle prizes from local businesses, music by a local DJ and more! The event will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
Event information and links to tickets can be found on their Facebook page: facebook.com/astoryofastoria.
Studio Square, 35-33 36th St., LIC
2. NYC Pet Services
Pets want to see Santa, too! For all the animal lovers out there: bring your pet into Pet Services on Saturday, Dec. 17, from noon to 3 p.m. to get their picture taken with Santa! Suggested donations per picture are $10, and all proceeds go to Bobbi and the Strays animal shelter.
31-21 31st St., Astoria