GUIDE: 12 ways to give back this holiday season

Second Servings of Houston is one of several nonprofits looking for volunteers. (Courtesy Second Servings)
Second Servings of Houston is one of several nonprofits looking for volunteers. (Courtesy Second Servings)

Second Servings of Houston is one of several nonprofits looking for volunteers. (Courtesy Second Servings)

For those looking to help in the local community, there are several local nonprofit groups offering volunteer opportunities and accepting donations. This list is noncomprehensive.

BETTER THE CITY

Freewheels Houston

Freewheels Houston is an organization that takes used, donated bikes and redistributes them to people who need them. They also rely on volunteer mechanics to help fix the donated bikes. Application and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: cleaning bikes, fixing flat tires, assisting with bike distribution


Donations accepted: money, bikes, helmets, bike locks

6020 Jessamine St., Ste. 204, Houston. 281-864-0725. www.freewheelshouston.org

United Way of Greater Houston

This nonprofit mobilizes volunteers and advocates to advance the common good by engaging communities around education, financial stability and health. Application and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: assisting with book drive and Read Across America, sending virtual notes of encouragement

Donations accepted: money

50 Waugh Drive, Houston. 713-685-2300. www.unitedwayhouston.org

EMPOWER CHILDREN

Montrose Grace Place

The nonprofit aims to provide a safe place for youth experiencing homelessness in the Montrose area. The organization hosts a youth night Mondays and Thursdays to provide youths with dinner and peer discussion. Application, background check and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: provide mentoring, facilitate group discussions, cooking meals, setting up the table

Donations accepted: money, raincoats, bus cards, socks, underwear, menstrual products, blankets, sleeping bags

2515 Waugh Drive, Houston. 832-239-0824. www.montrosegraceplace.org

CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Katy Prairie Conservancy

This organization works to preserve and protect the acres that make up Katy Prairie for the well-being of the wildlife and people in the area. One of its main goals is land conservation and restoration of the prairie. Application and background check required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: seed collecting, planting flora, tending the plant nursery

Donations accepted: money, land

Houston office: 5615 Kirby Drive, Ste. 867, Houston. Field office: 31975 Hebert Road, Waller. 713-523-6135. www.katyprairie.org

Plant it Forward

The nonprofit owns and operates urban farms in Houston that work with Catholic Charities’ local refugee resettlement office and Urban Harvest to provide refugees with agricultural backgrounds training and necessary housing. Application and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: weeding, mulching, assisting with farmers market, hosting work days, creating content for veggie guide

Donations accepted: money, food stock

Fondren: 10595 Fondren Road, Houston. Westbury: 12581 Dunlap St., Houston. Montrose: 1318 Sul Ross St., Houston. Blossom Heights: 8720 Lipan Road, Houston. 713-432-0754. www.plantitforward.farm

FEED THE HUNGRY

Houston Food Bank

This nonprofit organization collects and distributes food to then give to hunger relief charities. The food typically comes from chain grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown away. The food bank provides access to 207 million nutritious meals in 18 counties in southeast Texas. Application and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: inspecting and sorting food, building home delivery kits, meal prep, distributing food and school supplies

Donations accepted: money, food

East branch: 535 Portwall St., Houston. North branch: 146 Knobcrest Drive, Houston. 713-547-8604. www.houstonfoodbank.org

Second Servings of Houston

This nonprofit organization focuses excess prepared and perishable food. Second Services works to “rescue” this excess food from hotels, caterers, sports venues, distributors and retailers and deliver it to preapproved charitable meal sites so it can be provided to individuals in need. Application and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: food rescuing and delivering, food show/festival rescuing

Donations accepted: prepared and perishable food from food safety-certified businesses only

8825 Knight Road, Houston. 713-824-4763. www.secondservingshouston.org

HELP ANIMALS

Special Pals Rescue Resource Center

This nonprofit animal welfare organization works to save animal lives and is the oldest no-kill shelter in Houston. The center provides adoptions, fostering, low-cost vaccinations and rescue boarding. Application and orientation required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: animal care, cleaning, spreading awareness in the community

Donations accepted: money, dog food, cat food, trash bags, puppy pads, laundry detergent, carabiners, disposable rubber gloves

3830 Greenhouse Road, Houston. 281-579-7387. www.specialpals.org

SUPPORT FAMILIES

Alliance for Multicultural Services

The nonprofit organization focuses on welcoming and empowering those who face financial, educational, health, language or cultural barriers by realizing their dreams through social-educational and wellness services. Application and background check required.

Sample activities: assisting with case management, being a job readiness mentor, conducting advocacy and outreach, translating

Donations accepted: money, baby items, hygiene items, household items, nonperishable foods and water jugs, Visa or Walmart gift cards, vehicles

6440 Hillcroft Ave., Ste. 411, Houston. 713-776-4700. www.thealliancetx.org

Houston Area Women’s Center

This social services organization works to combat the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking. It provides crisis intervention services, support programs and violence prevention initiatives. Application and background check required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: providing child care, answering hotline phone calls, assisting with administrative duties, special events

Donations accepted: money

1010 Waugh Drive, Houston. 713-528-6798. www.hawc.org

Houston Welcomes Refugees

Houston Welcomes Refugees is an organization that helps refugees through the resettlement process when they relocate to Houston. The group also helps connect them with resources during the first few months. Application, orientation and background check required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: donating a welcome kit, delivering groceries, partnering and visiting with a family

Donations accepted: money, stocks, mutual funds

946 W. 17th St., Houston. 713-264-4370. www.houstonwelcomesrefugees.com

St. Vincent de Paul Bellaire Resale Shop

This shop is part of a larger network within The Society of St. Vincent de Paul nonprofit, which includes 1,800 volunteers and a food network of 21 food pantries. Application, orientation and background check required. Under 18 allowed.

Sample activities: donations and resale

Donations accepted: financial donations (honorariums or memorial funds, checks, employer matching, planned giving); in-kind donations; vehicle donations

5236 Cedar St., Bellaire. 713-669-9410. www.svdphouston.org/shop
By Sierra Rozen

Metro Reporter, South Houston

Sierra joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in September of 2021 after graduating with a degree in communication and a minor in journalism from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX. Sierra covers all things in the South Houston area but in particular covers Friendswood ISD, Friendswood City Council and Harris County METRO. Prior to CI, Sierra served as the viewpoints and life and arts editor for Hilltop Views, as well as interning for Austin Woman Magazine.

By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.