The city is now opening warming shelters until Friday morning

Homeless for the holidays: How to help the people who need it most

This holiday season, thousands of men, women and children in Atlanta will experience homelessness.

»RELATED: Where to volunteer in Atlanta

The most recent estimate put the city of Atlanta’s homeless population at around 3000. However, many experts say that’s an undercount and that in particular it’s difficult to get a good number for homeless families. Whatever the number, people without permanent residences need lots of assistance.

Photo: Ricardo Camacho

How can you help?

By volunteering time and donations to a homelessness outreach program:

Atlanta Mission

2353 Bolton Road. NW

Atlanta Mission serves close to 1,000 homeless men, women, and children every day. Since its founding in 1938, the Atlanta Mission has grown from soup kitchen to a prominent local provider of emergency shelter, rehab and recovery services, vocational training and transitional housing. 76 percent of donations go directly towards programs and services.

The Atlanta Mission also keeps a running list of urgent needs in addition to its regular volunteering and donation opportunities. If you are interested in donating or volunteering, start with their volunteer page. The Mission has more suggestions about ways to help during this season.

Nicholas House Volunteer Amy Miller and her two children Abigail, 4, and Andrew, 6, (right) hand out cookies.
Photo: Jason Getz /

Nicholas House


Nicholas House is the only shelter in Atlanta offering housing to any homeless family. It operates an emergency shelter and has two different programs for families with some income but perhaps not enough to maintain stable housing. It also runs a program offering housing to chronically homeless families facing special challenges. There are many different ways to volunteer from preparing meals, to playing with kids or helping them with their homework, to mentoring adults.

HomeAid Atlanta

1 Dunwoody Park S., Suite 200, Atlanta

HomeAid Atlanta builds and renovates transitional housing facilities for the homeless service agencies of Atlanta. Unlike more generalized outreach programs, HomeAid Atlanta seeks the specific skills and materials needed to construct housing. Visit and explore HomeAid’s need for builders, trade contractors and building material suppliers, as well as their needs from others in the community.

Atlanta Children’s Shelter

607 Peachtree St. NE

The Atlanta Children's Shelter provides services to homeless families with children under the age of 5. The organization serves children through direct services like early childhood education, nutrition and wellness programs, as well parents via social services, case management, rapid re-housing and employment support.

The Shelter’s management believes Atlanta’s homeless population is considerably larger than official estimates and that close to 2500 are children. Children’s Shelter can offer enrollment to only 40 families in need. You can donate or get involved with ongoing family services by visiting

Gateway Center
275 Pryor St. SW


Located in a building that was once the Atlanta city jail, Gateway Center today offers 369 beds for men who are “actively working to end their homelessness.” The program enrolls them into on-site residential programs that include training and support, recuperative care, stabilization, employment, pre-treatment, Veterans’ programs and more.

Still looking for the perfect outreach partner? 

Visit to review a comprehensive list of homeless outreach organizations in the Atlanta area, and spend your holiday season involved in the outreach effort nearest to your home or heart.

If you are looking for additional volunteer opportunities, here are places the whole family can volunteer this holiday season.