Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Westchester
My 12-year-old recently asked if he could visit the animal shelter where we adopted our rescue dog. It occurred to me that not only could he visit on a weekend or after school, but he could volunteer for the organization. Volunteering for kids is much more than a resume builder — the opportunity can inform children’s understanding of the world, and of themselves, and can make a real difference in the community. Fortunately, volunteer opportunities for kids are plentiful in Westchester — if you know where to look.
Lend a Hand to Volunteer in Westchester
Get down and dirty cleaning up Westchester’s greenery. Join the Westchester Parks Foundation’s Green Squad to help preserve Westchester’s many parks including Croton George Park, Blue Mountain Reservation, V.E. Macy Park and county trailways in Yonkers, Millwood and Pleasantville, among others. Volunteers commit to two cleanups a month, from March through November, and students can get school credit for their work.
Younger kids and their parents can volunteer to cook meals for the families at the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Hudson Valley. The Meals that Heal program invites families (up to 10 participants) to bring their own food to cook for the families whose children are undergoing treatment nearby.
The Creative heARTS program at White Plains Hospital asks kids who dabble in arts and crafts to create a handmade item — such as origami, jewelry, small pictures and paintings, poetry, knitted or crocheted items and greeting cards. The creations will be distributed to patients in the Center for Cancer Care and to the hospital’s gift shops.
Feeding Westchester, which targets food insecurity in the Westchester area, welcomes children to organize and package food donations. The organization also encourages kids to host a food drive or start a fundraiser to raise money and supplies for local people in need.
Help Rescued Animals in Westchester
The SPCA of Westchester’s Rising Volunteers program is for kids ages 10 through 17 who want to help rescued animals. While kids under the age of 18 are not allowed to have direct contact with the animals, there are plenty of other ways to help, including making pet toys out of recycled materials, reading to the dogs and conducting a donation drive for items like towels, sheets and blankets.
After the pandemic caused the Humane Society of Westchester in New Rochelle to close for almost two years, the business is now open for adoptions and animal control services. While only adults can currently volunteer at the facility, kids can make a huge impact on the organization by soliciting donations and supplies — like cat litter, baby wipes, dog/cat food, cleaning supplies, etc. Kids can also host a virtual dog walk challenge or hold a bake/lemonade/sock puppet sale and donate the money to the homeless animals, and the saintly folks who care for them.
Kids who want to be hands on with foster pets can sign up for the Paws Crossed Junior Volunteer Program (ages 5-10), which meets once a month at the private animal rescue center in Elmsford. Kids will learn about animal rescue, engage in fun crafts and then spend some time with the rescues. Kids older than 10 can also volunteer by raising money for the shelter or making rice socks for the orphaned pets.
Donate Clothes and Household Items in Westchester
Gather the troops for a massive home purge, then take all those ill-fitting clothes and extra housewares to one of the many Salvation Army outlets in Westchester — including Peeksill, Port Chester, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, White Plains and Tarrytown. Make sure your kids accompany you to the drop-off — witnessing the gratitude can have a big impact on them.
You can also donate all those old clothes, shoes and winter jackets to the Sharing Shelf in Port Chester. Westchester’s clothing bank for children was founded in 2009 to meet basic material needs for low-income children and families in the community. Kids over 14 can also volunteer to help sort, package and deliver the donations.
And there are so many more opportunities for kids in Westchester to make a difference, including raising money or donating goods to local organizations like Family Services of Westchester or Lifting Up Westchester. Kids can help create birthdays for other children by donating party supplies to The Birthday Box or they can donate their own birthday gifts to organizations like the Children’s National Health System. (Share Your Wish can also connect little one to charities.) Wherever your family chooses to give, make sure your kids appreciate how much their effort matters.