Kid-friendly places in NYC to volunteer this holiday season

The holidays are upon us, and opportunities to volunteer are plentiful! Volunteering is valuable for countless reasons, both for the beneficiaries and for those giving their time and energy to causes. First, people in need are receiving help they otherwise may not have had. Second, people who give experience community bonding and togetherness. Third—and this one is particularly relevant for children with long winter breaks from school—it’s a wonderful, productive pastime that can teach us all about the value of community engagement!

From a big list of volunteer opportunities in New York, we have highlighted a couple ones that are especially good for kids—those with little helping hands to teenagers:

  • The Bowery Mission: this group serves the hungry and homeless. Volunteers can aid in preparing and serving meals, and teens and adults can even mentor youth!

  • Greenpoint Church Dinner and Food Pantry: at Greenpoint, community dinners are held every Wednesday. Volunteers are need for a variety of roles, including cooking—a great activity for kids! Children over 5 are welcome.

  • City Meals on Wheels: this organization prepares and serves meals to the elderly of NYC. In addition to providing food, City Meals on Wheels also has holiday card program where volunteers can make and send cards to the elderly, which can double as a great craft for kids!

Note that there are many other places to volunteer in the coming month, and most places have year-round volunteer programming, too! If you’re not local to NYC, most opportunities are easy to find online or in your local newspaper. They often include activity details, so you can easily pick out which ones are best for bringing kids along, or for teenagers to try on their own.

Community engagement benefits everyone—help yourself and your children by helping others this holiday season!

Mental Health and Social Good: A Partnership?

This week, we would like to continue our focus on discussing ways to actively improve our mindsets and mental health overall. A recent post in NPR discusses a new psychology study that suggests that teenagers benefit from a confidence boost if they help strangers or volunteer. While helping a friend or family member is obviously a positive experience, it is more difficult challenging, and maybe even intimidating, to help someone you do not know - and this is why teens can derive confidence boosts from helping others. Given the diversity of teens’ interests, it’s a wonderful thing that spending time helping strangers - even people one doesn’t meet - can happen in all facets of society.


Confidence boosts are always good, but teenagers today may benefit from them the most. Current research tells us that today’s teenagers live in challenging times — both socially and economically — and the numbers show it. The NPR article cites that “by the age of fourteen, 25% of teenage girls and 10% of boys struggle with depression.” Students of all ages seek out help for depression, anxiety, and other difficulties. The idea that they might help themselves and others at the same time by devoting time or energy to social good is wonderful.


Altruism has always had a somewhat broad definition, and the way today’s teenagers help others might look differently than the way their parents might envision it from their own experience. For example, teenagers can harness social media to spread awareness and raise funds for campaigns or causes they care about. Parents and teachers can introduce opportunities to get involved or answer questions about navigating ways students can positively contribute to society.


At CHIL, we are always trying to link health to many actors: children, parents, teachers, doctors, and officials all play a part in physical, mental, and social health. Linking children’s and teens’ mental well-being to social initiatives, and vice versa, could be very promising!