6 places to volunteer with children this holiday season in Atlanta

Organizations like Atlanta Community Foodbank offer volunteer opportunities for children as young as 8 years old.
Organizations like Atlanta Community Foodbank offer volunteer opportunities for children as young as 8 years old.

Credit: AJC.com

Credit: AJC.com

'Tis the season of giving! It's no secret that the holiday season inspires people to be thankful and give to others. In fact, most charitable donations are made between October and December each year. Who can resist those bell-ringing Santas and the chance to truly make a difference?

For parents of young children, this can also be a good time to share the value of helping those in need. KidsHealth.org says that volunteering can teach kids a sense of responsibility, tolerance and job skills. It can teach them that one person has the ability to make a difference. From a family standpoint, volunteering together can bring you and your children closer.

Locally, there are plenty of organizations with kid-friendly volunteer opportunities throughout the holiday season. Here's a rundown of a few places you might want to consider if you're looking to volunteer with your little one.

Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program – Since 1979, the Salvation Army has been collecting new clothes and toys for its Angel Tree Program each year. Anonymous donors sign up to adopt one or more little "angels" for Christmas. The donors are then given basic information about their angel, such as their age, gender, clothing sizes and a short Christmas wish list. From there, you can go shopping as a family for the perfect gifts. At the end, all you have to do is drop your unwrapped presents off with the Salvation Army. Visit AngelTreeAtlanta.org for more information about the program and how to sign up. You can also call (404) 486-2942 or email Sheronda.Anthony@uss.salvationarmy.org

2. Open Hand – Kids ages 9 and older can volunteer with Open Hand in Atlanta. Their kitchen prepares, packages and delivers almost 5,500 meals each day and your child can donate their time to helping to package those meals. Volunteers form an assembly line where the food is portioned into individual containers and snack bags to be delivered to individuals who are homebound or critically ill.

To keep things fun, the atmosphere in the kitchen is always colored with laughter and music. To join in, children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult. More information about volunteer requirements and the dress and health codes can be found on the Open Hand website.

For kids who love working with their hands, Trees Atlanta offers Saturday volunteer opportunities for children ages 12 and older.
For kids who love working with their hands, Trees Atlanta offers Saturday volunteer opportunities for children ages 12 and older.

Credit: AJC.com

Credit: AJC.com

3. Trees Atlanta – For kids who prefer to get their hands dirty, Trees Atlanta offers Saturday volunteer opportunities for ages 12 and up. If your child is under 16 years of age, a chaperone is required. Activities include tree and meadow plantings as well as tree maintenance. Volunteers meet on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in different Atlanta neighborhoods to work together to make each community a better place to live. TreesAtlanta.org has more information including registration details.

If you want to teach your kids about forest restoration, you can also look into Trees Atlanta's Holiday Tree Greeting program. For $25, you and your child can send a hand-written holiday tree greeting card to a friend or family member. With your purchase, Trees Atlanta will plant a tree in the recipient's honor. More about the Holiday Tree Greeting program can be found on the Trees Atlanta website.

4. Hosea Feed the Hungry – Hosea Feed the Hungry provides over 10,000 volunteer opportunities each year. Children must be at least 12 years old to participate. During the holidays, you can register to volunteer for one of the organization's annual dinner events. Visit 4Hosea.org to read about requirements and registration information.

5. Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelters – Furkids offers youth volunteer opportunities year round. Depending on your child's age, they can participate in supply drives, animal caretaking, reading to the animals, or working in the Norcross thrift store. During the first three weekends in December, kids from ages 9 to 18 can volunteer as Santa photo helpers and gift wrappers during Furkids' annual Christmas event. The event takes place at select Furkids locations in metro Atlanta. This fundraiser gives pet owners a chance to bring their pets in for photos with Santa. Volunteers are needed for greeting, helping with staging the animals and more. You can learn more on the Furkids website.

6. Atlanta Community Food Bank – Atlanta Community Food Bank in Midtown has a list of ongoing projects for anyone looking to give back. The organization's mission is to provide food and other critical resources for low-income Georgians who face hunger and food insecurity on a regular basis. Their kid-friendly volunteer projects include processing grocery donations in the Product Resource Center, working with plants through the Community Gardens project or providing school supplies to teachers in low-income areas through the Kids in Need initiative. Each project has its own requirements for ages and volunteer hours. The Volunteer page on the Atlanta Community Food Bank website has all of those details and more.

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