The holiday season can be an exciting time for many; filled with family, fun and food. Share your holiday joy with those less fortunate. Across Massachusetts, there are shelters and pantries where you can donate food, time, toys, clothes and more. Get your child involved to help them learn what the season is really about.

Feeding America Food Banks: With three different food bank locations across Massachusetts, your family can donate in Boston, Western Massachusetts or in Worcester County. Not only can you donate food, but the Greater Boston location also has a “Kids Who Care” program. Kids can learn about food safety, handling and the food bank while also participating in a service activity. Visit for more information.

The Home for Little Wanderers “Keep Kids Warm Coat Drive”: From October 15 through November 25, The Home for Little Wanderers is looking for new and unworn coats of any kind and any size. If you are looking to clean out your closets, used coats are being accepted at their thrift shop location in Boston. This is a great opportunity to teach kids about not taking their warm clothes for granted and to donate instead of throw out. Visit for more information.

“Big Wishes for Little Wanderers”:  In November and December, The Home for Little Wanderers has a gift drive for the holidays. Kids can donate a new toy to another child and help spread holiday cheer. Visit for more information.

Catholic Charities: These charities provide social services and support to a wide variety of people in our community; you can donate food and grocery store gift cards to a Catholic Charities location near you. Their food pantries are located in Brockton, Dorchester, Lowell and Somerville. You and your child can also go to a grocery store and pick out food that is suitable for donation. Visit for more information.

Rosie’s Place: At this women’s shelter you can cook, serve and clean up after a meal.  This activity is best for older school groups in high school or college. Younger children can help gather supplies for donation. The shelter is always in need of food, clothing, blankets, sheets, toiletries, etc. Visit for more information.

The American Red Cross: Youth volunteers are welcome to help with various programs. Children can build leadership skills, feel good helping and understand global issues. Visit for more information.

Community Servings: This Boston based organization prepares and delivers meals to families and individuals who are homebound with life threatening illnesses. You and your family can create a holiday basket. Go to their website to sign up and take a trip to the store to collect desired items. Visit for more information.

Cradles to Crayons: To give your child a hands on experience, Cradles to Crayons invites anyone above age 5 to volunteer at their “Giving Factory.” They have age appropriate activities for families to take part in during a two-hour shift. Donations of children’s clothing, books, art supplies, diapers and hygiene supplies  are always accepted. Check their website for holiday event information. Visit for more information.

Toys for Tots: Help make a child’s holiday a little brighter by donating a toy at a drop-off location. Toys for Tots also has opportunities for volunteers in their many locations across Massachusetts. Visit for more information.

Schools: If you’d like to get your children more involved with holiday giving, look at the opportunities offered by their schools. Many school organizations encourage fellow students to donate food, gifts and clothing. High school and college aged students can gather a group of friends to visit a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter to volunteer.

Jennifer Hanrahan is an intern with Boston Parents Paper.