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America's largest food bank distributes more than 122 million meals annually to the food insecure in 18 counties.
America's largest food bank distributes more than 122 million meals annually to the food insecure in 18 counties.
Photo by Houston Food Bank

5 Cool Ways to Volunteer This Holiday Season in Houston

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday (November 27) kicks off the season of charitable giving. Even though the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act threw a wrench into the works, meaning fewer people will be itemizing deductions this year, nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status still need our help.

Cash, the universal gift certificate, is always welcome. As is your gift of time. So whether you've got a soft spot for the hungry, the homeless, the jobless or Planet Earth, here's our list of five cool ways to volunteer this season.

Houston Food Bank
If you think cooking for extended family and friends over Thanksgiving was exhausting, imagine the logistics involved in distributing 122 million meals annually. The Houston Food Bank makes it easy to help through donation, food drives, volunteering at the Portwall Warehouse or the Keegan Kitchen, and helping clients sign up for state benefits. Place nonperishable food in the red barrels while grocery shopping December 3-8, then make it a habit and donate year round. For more information, call 713-547-8604 or visit houstonfoodbank.org.

Harris County Pets
Harris County Animal Shelter needs help on December 1, 8 and 15 with their mobile clinic that takes veterinary care out to the community. Hold animals while they get their vaccinations or microchips, process paperwork, and educate the public about responsible pet ownership. Or sign up to help homeless pets get their glamour shots on December 5, 6 and 13; the right photograph can fast-track their way into a new home. Contact Jessica Hernandez at 832-927-1141 or vphvolunteer@phs.hctx.net. And, if you've got room for one more at your inn, consider fostering or adopting an animal in need. Email foster@phs.hctx.net or visit countypets.com.

The WorkFaith Connection
Anybody who has ever suffered a job loss understands the uncertainty that comes with wondering when you'll get your next paycheck. The WorkFaith Connection helps disadvantaged job seekers gain the skills they need to lead healthy, productive and spiritually rich lives. They have more than 30 ways to help including conducting mock interviews, helping in the classroom, typing resumes and assisting clients at their graduation ceremony. Consider attending their volunteer orientation on December 7 and discover how to use your gifts to help others. Contact Abigail Olds at 713-936-9052 or volunteers@workfaithconnection.org or visit workfaithconnection.org/get-involved.

City Wide Club
The Thanksgiving Super Feast is in our rear view window, but it won't be long until the City Wide Club serves thousands again on the day before Christmas. Not only will everybody receive a hot meal at the Super Feast, they'll also be eligible for clothing, household items, shoes, blankets, haircuts, toys, coats, jackets, flu shots and medical examinations. Sign up for the morning or afternoon shift on December 24, or consider helping out by donating nonperishable foods or holding a toy drive at the office. For more information, call 713-752-2582 or visit citywideclub.com/super-feast.html.

Nature and Wildlife
Get involved with some of the park projects around the Houston area. The Jesse Jones Park in Humble needs volunteers during their Homestead Holiday event on December 8. Come back December 15 to help restore the natural habitat by planting native plants, sowing seeds and removing invasive species. On December 22, learn how to make decorative edible treats for birds and other wildlife. Contact Kim Hammond at 281-446-8588 or khammond@hcp4.net.

Sheldon Lake State Park needs help with games and crafts at their holiday event on December 9. Come back for a volunteer orientation on December 15 to learn about upcoming field trips, prairie restoration and bird surveys. Contact Taylor Shimabukuro at 281-456-2800 x230 or taylor.shimabukuro@tpwd.texas.gov.

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