A guide to volunteering around DC during the holidays

Kindness has a special resonance this time of year. On this Giving Tuesday, here are some ways to help your neighbors around D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

WASHINGTON — For many area residents, the holidays aren’t as happy as they should be.

Chilly temperatures make the needy especially vulnerable. And kindness has a special resonance this time of year, because that’s what the holidays are supposed to be about.

On this Giving Tuesday, here are some ways to help your neighbors around D.C., Maryland and Virginia.


1. Thrive DC provides a safety net for the homeless and unemployed, as well as for those experiencing housing instability and food insecurity. Serve breakfast and dinner to the homeless, provide groceries to hungry families, volunteer at the free farmers market, help customers find employment and provide administrative support. Call 202-737-9311

2. DC Central Kitchen is a soup kitchen, volunteer organization and more. Prepare food in the kitchen and provide balanced meals. Email dcckinfo@dccentralkitchen.org for more information.

3. Miriam’s Kitchen provides short-term assistance such as healthy meals and social services to the homeless. It also links clients to permanent housing and advocates for a long-term solution to homelessness in the city. Prepare meals or serve clients on a monthly basis. Volunteers can also provide such services as cutting hair, giving manicures and editing resumes. Call 202-452-8926.

4. Opportunities at the Capital Area Food Bank include hosting a digital food drive and sorting and packing food for distribution. Call 202-644-9800.

5. So Others Might Eat is an interfaith community that feeds the homeless and poor, tutors children and serves the vulnerable elderly. Work in the dining room, help area youths and provide family services. Volunteers can also take part in the SOME Volunteer Corps, a yearlong residential program. Call 202-797-8806.


1. Beans and Bread, a soup kitchen in Baltimore, offers several volunteer opportunities. Prep meals, help with youth and family activities (e.g., arts and crafts, movie nights, monthly birthday bashes, family fun nights), serve as an after-school tutor, a greeter, a translator, a career adviser and more. Call 410-732-1892.

2. Elizabeth House is a soup kitchen operated by FISH of Laurel Inc. Stock and organize the food pantry, donate fresh veggies, bag lunches and prepare meals. Donations of non-perishable food items are also accepted. Call 301-776-9296.

3. Franciscan Center is a soup kitchen in Baltimore. Prepare and assemble meals, clean up, visit with the guests, stock pantry shelves, package and distribute emergency food bags, donate and package clothing and toiletries, restock clothing racks, help in the office, chop fresh produce and assist during distribution events. Call 410-467-5340.

4. At Baltimore’s Manna House soup kitchen and drop-in center, volunteers can work in the kitchen, fill clothing room orders, enter data, clean, package toiletries and more. Call 410-889-3001.

5. Shepherd’s Table is a soup kitchen in Silver Spring. Prepare meals, greet guests, clean, assist in the resource center, or handle food pickup and clothes sorting/distribution. Call 301-585-6463.

6. The furry bunch at BARCS, an animal care and rescue facility in Baltimore, needs your help, too. Assist with animal care, customer service, community programs, special projects and more. Call 410-396-4695.


1. Capital Area Food Bank offerings go beyond just food. Volunteers can host a digital food drive or sort and pack food for distribution. Call 571-482-4770.

2. Feed More is a hunger-relief organization that distributes healthy meals across central Virginia.  Prepare meals, serve them or handle distribution and donations. Call 804-521-2500.

3. The Arlington Food Assistance Center helps Arlington residents with food and groceries. Bag, cook, distribute or deliver food. You can also garden or glean crops at area farms, work on a farmers market team in connecting with local families, or participate in food drives and health education. Call 703-845-8486 or email communications@afac.org.

4. Loudoun Hunger Relief is a smaller organization that serves its community with groceries. Donate food or money, host a food drive or volunteer your time. Call 703-777-5911.

5. Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is a full-service animal shelter and rescue. Help with everything from dog walking and cat socializing to wildlife transport and even gardening. Call 703-746-4774.

6. The Nature Conservancy hopes to address some of the most pressing conservation threats.You can help aid the mission through a variety of different opportunities. Call (703) 841-5300.

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