‘Tis the season for giving! Teach your kids the true meaning of the holidays by helping others.
There are plenty of ways to serve your community in Maryland coming up: food drives, collections of donations for nonprofits, toy and gift drives, and serving or delivering holiday dinners for those less fortunate.
Help the homeless and needy during these winter months by volunteering at some of the events or donation drives listed below.
Ways to help the needy, seniors and animals are organized by type of activity or assistance needed:
- Preparing, serving, delivering meals
- Food drives or clothing drives
- Toy drives and children’s hospital donations
- Shelters and adopting a family
- Pet shelter needs
Updated Nov. 2020
Help to feed those who cannot afford or are unable to make a meal.
Through the United Way of Central Maryland, families can help assemble and distribute complete Thanksgiving meals for the needy at dozens of convenient locations throughout the state. Each year, the United Way donates more than 3,000 complete Thanksgiving dinners to families in need, and many local churches and community centers help with this process. If you are unable to volunteer, monetary donations are accepted.
100 S Charles St., Baltimore. 410-547-8000
At Our Daily Bread in Baltimore, families with children 14 and older are invited to help serve breakfast and lunch every day of the year. Although Thanksgiving day is always popular for families wanting to volunteer, the need is great throughout the year. Our Daily Bread also has a casserole donation program where families can prepare and deliver casseroles that are served to the hungry. The organization’s website offers recipes, suggestions and preparation guidelines so families can prepare food in advance.
725 Fallsway, Baltimore, 443-986-9031
Meals on Wheels, an organization that provides meals to homebound seniors and disabled individuals, needs volunteers to help deliver meals during the holiday season and beyond. Meals usually are delivered daily between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and volunteers can serve as many times a month as they like. Meals for Mom is a program designed to encourage parents to volunteer with their children as a driver/visitor team to develop a personal relationship with their recipients. 410-558-0827
Families with younger children are invited to help with the Thanksgiving basket program. Families can donate items or help assemble “baskets” that include full Thanksgiving meals and are distributed to the needy the Monday before Thanksgiving. A list of needed items, along with basket suggestions and guidelines, is on the website.
We Care and Friends, a non-profit organization in Annapolis, has an annual Thanksgiving dinner for 3,000 who are homeless or in need and is served the Monday before Thanksgiving. Held at the Stanton Community Center, the dinner is made possible through donations from restaurants and includes music and kids’ entertainment for the needy families in attendance.
St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore has multiple ways to deliver meals to those in need, including making volunteer-bagged lunches to deliver to the homeless, serving hot meals for holiday dinners and adopting families for the holidays.
Happy Helpers for the Homeless engages young people, their parents, and community organizations in preparing food and goods for the needy, bringing love and necessities directly to homeless people every weekend, no matter the weather and including holidays.
Food drives are an easy way to provide nourishment to those who need it most.
Give to the residents of Sarah’s House, a shelter at Fort Meade for homeless families, by donating food, clothing or gifts to their Christmas celebration. Adopt a specific family or choose to donate toys and gift cards to their Christmas shopping program. The program takes donations and hosts a “shopping” day for needy parents so they may choose and wrap gifts for their own children. 2015 20th St., Fort Meade; 667-600-3550.
Maryland Food Bank operates facilities in Baltimore, Hagerstown and Salisbury that distribute more than 120,000 meals per day. Donate food, volunteer for pantry organization or begin an online campaign to provide hungry families with a holiday meal this season. Volunteer families can also schedule appointments to help load, pack and sort food at a local branch, or help with administrative work or fundraising efforts. Call the branch nearest to you for specific food needs, or go online to create a food donation campaign for your family.
Good Neighbors Group Thanksgiving Food Collection
Good Neighbors Group is collaborating with Maryland Reentry Resource Center to provide Thanksgiving sides plus additional non-perishables food to 60 families in need in Meade Village. All items can be left on the stoop at 605 Red Oak Court in West Severna Park no later than Tuesday, November 17. Delivery in paper bags or reusable bags is appreciated, as this is how we will organize the contributions.
Maryland Reentry Resource Center will also provide Thanksgiving meals for 30 of its clients around Anne Arundel County. They can use three additional drivers to deliver meals on Saturday, November 21st. Please use the link below if you’re able to help.
Feed Anne Arundel
Donate money or volunteer time to Feed Anne Arundel, which originated in the spring of 2020 and has brought together numerous restaurants and donations to keep those in Anne Arundel from going hungry.
Light House Shelter Thanksgiving Box 2020
The Light House Shelter in Annapolis is collecting donations for families in need at Thanksgiving. Purchase goods for and package a box of all items listed on the shelter’s list, and delivered to the Light House Shelter in Annapolis on November 20.
Anne Arundel Food Bank
Donate food, volunteer for pantry organization or begin an online campaign to provide hungry families with a holiday meal this season. The Anne Arundel Food Bank collects food and goods to distribute through local pantries and on-site feeding agencies that receive food to distribute to those in need in our county.
During these cold months, donate your warm winter clothes to those who consider a coat a luxury.
GBLL is an all volunteer, 501(C)3 non-profit based in Anne Arundel County, Maryland whose Christmas Drive to Help the Homeless delivers over 20 truck loads of clothing annually to homeless shelters in the Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington, DC on Christmas Eve. GBLL will be collecting coats, hats, gloves, new/gently used warm clothing all ages/both genders, sleeping bags, blankets, toys, travel size toiletries, new underwear and baby items such as diapers, baby seats, clothes and formula, and non-perishable food items.
Ask your family to round up their old, gently-worn coats to donate to needy and homeless children, women, and men who cannot afford them all across Maryland. For some of those in poverty, a winter spent without a coat is a harsh reality. Visit the website to find the closest donation center near you. Monetary donations are also accepted—just $1 provides two coats. 877-663-9276
Admiral Cleaners collects coats every October and November for those in need. To donate a coat, or coordinate a pickup, call 410-267-8381 or visit admiralcleaners.com for a list of locations.
Haley is an Annapolis teen who collects clothing, coats and accessories for people in need, then donates them around the country. Donations accepted on a rolling basis.
Be the Santa for a needy child who otherwise might not receive a gift this holiday season.
This year, Toys for Tots and DonateAToy.org have Partnered to Launch a Virtual Toy Drive for 2020’s COVID-era Donation Season, Offering a Unique Online Program Enabling Americans to Support Millions of Children in need during These unprecedented times.
This year’s Santa Run will be all virtual, as the group plans to spread our own brand of joy by working with community contacts to identify children in need and making sure each child gets a gift under the tree. This year, instead of collecting gifts, it’s raising money to purchase gift cards from Franklin Toys and Third Eye Comics. Both of these businesses have partnered with us to help our neighbors in need this holiday season. You can donate money at the Annapolis Santa Run Go Fund Me Page, by December 11th, 2020. $25 gift cards will be distribute on December 18th, 2020 so the kids have their gift in time for Christmas morning.
This holiday season, families can provide food baskets and new toys to needy families and individuals with disabilities. Donations can be dropped off at the center, on Wednesday, November 18 and December 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some items needed include canned foods, crayons and coloring books, grocery store gift certificates, and new toys.
4401 Nicole Dr., Lanham, 301-583-0358.
Donations to Children’s Hospitals
Help to brighten a young patient’s day through a charitable donation.
Child’s Play seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through the donation of toys, books and games. Families can send a financial donation to be used for purchasing gaming devices for children’s hospital wings or go online and search the Amazon wish list of more than 70 hospitals nationwide. In Maryland, Child’s Play has partnered with the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. View Johns Hopkins Amazon Wish List at Amazon.com
At the St. Jude’s Gift Shop, families can choose to donate any monetary amount to help children with cancer, but the St. Jude’s Gift shop also allows donors to choose how they want to help through specific events or materials for a patient. Sponsor a No Mo’ Chemo party for a patient for $25, purchase a wagon to transport a patient to treatments for $75, or share the cost of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a bone marrow treatment. 800-746-1539
Improve the welfare of needy families through donations.
You can deliver gifts, food and clothing directly to a needy family or senior through the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services Holiday Sharing program. Families can specify what kind of family and how many people they would like to give to. Donors may even choose the geographical area that is convenient for them. Families can sign up online or contact the program directly to choose a specific giving opportunity. 80 West St., Annapolis; 410-269-4462.
Support women and children fleeing from domestic abuse. Visit the organization’s headquarters in Arnold to adopt a family or an individual rebuilding a life after the tragedy of abuse. 1517 Ritchie Highway, Suite 201, Arnold, 410-626-7800.
House of Ruth is an organization located in Maryland that provides shelter, food, counseling, and more for women and children. Item donations help clothe, feed and nourish those seeking help and support. Clothing, hygiene supplies, books, toys, craft supplies and linens are some of the items that are needed. There is a wish list on the organization’s website, with highly desired items listed in bold. 2201 Argonne Dr., Baltimore, 410-889-0840.
The Walk the Walk Foundation needs sponsors to purchase gifts for families in need. Volunteers can also help deliver the gifts to the families, giving it a personal touch. Purchase a bike, bike helmet or gift cards as well.
Aid local shelters by donating supplies, food, and toys for unadopted animals.
From providing food, toys and blankets to the shelter, to offering emergency assistance for injured shelter animals, the Friends of Anne Arundel County Animal Control is there. Donations of cash, gift certificates, dog and cat food and toys are especially needed during the holidays and the rate of surrenders tends to go up.
Animal lovers can donate treats and new cat and dog toys for homeless animals at the Maryland SPCA Adoption Center in Baltimore or at the Anne Arundel County SPCA. Families can also donate gently used towels and blankets or empty toilet and paper towel rolls to be used to create cat toys.
Help to keep this shelter properly stocked during the holiday season by shopping from its Amazon wish list, where you and your family can choose what kind of gifts to give to the animals of the shelter. Pedigree wet dog food is a high priority. Monetary donations are also accepted.
10236 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, 410-461-0516.
Monetary donations and goods donations are accepted. Take your kids to the pet store to shop for gifts for the animals at the rescue. Some gift ideas include cat and dog food (high quality, both dry/wet), dog crates, cat litter and cleaning spray. They often hold fundraising auctions as well, so if you’d like to donate an item, feel free to contact them.
Updated Nov. 2020