Throughout the pandemic and the unprecedented challenges of recent months, the Columbus community has continued to focus on local support and resources. Let's continue to spread joy and kindness despite the hard times and show the world what Columbus is all about!
If you're looking for a full round-up of opportunities throughout the holiday season, check out the POINT App to match your interest and availability to a need in the community, or try Volunteer United Cbus for further volunteer opportunities. Additional resources for finding Columbus volunteer opportunities include Volunteer Match and Columbus Gives Back.
Or, read on for a few specific highlighted opportunities to serve this season. (Please note that each website listed below remains the most updated and reliable resource for giving/volunteer information, such as COVID-19 precautions for each organization, items accepted, drop-off details, etc.)
Donations and Drives
Help brighten the holiday season and bring joy to Faith Mission and CHOICES residents and clients by donating monetarily or needed items. Learn what’s needed and sign up here.
Help create a season of certainty for Columbus neighbors throughout the holidays by making a material donation to YWCA of Central Ohio. All items must be new and unopened. Appointments can be made to safely drop off items, or they can be purchased and shipped directly from Amazon Wishlist for those who would like to go completely contactless. Check out the most needed items for the YWCA Family Center and Women’s Residency here.
Seeds of Caring Care Kits
Seeds of Caring seeks to empower kids to create a kinder community with their hearts, hands and minds. This holiday season, there are a variety of kits that can be put together at home and donated to help bring cheer to neighbors in need. These include sack lunches for hungry and homeless neighbors, comfy kits for kids entering foster care, compassion kits for those experiencing homelessness and cards for senior living facilities. New opportunities are added on the 1st and 15th of every month, and can be found here.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Holiday Toy Drive
Drop off by appointment Dec. 4-12 | Drop off at the hospital's information desk through Dec. 3
Because many patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital must remain in their rooms due to health risks from the pandemic, the toys at the hospital are no longer being used in playrooms – instead, children play with and keep toys in their own rooms. This has created a greater need for toys, and the holiday toy drive is critical to helping the hospital meet that need. Explore top wish list items and other ideas that can be bought or made, as well as drop-off instructions, here.
Columbus Humane Wish List
There are so many ways to support animal welfare beyond adoption, and Columbus Humane makes it easy to get involved. Whether you’re able to give financially, you have time to volunteer on-site, or you can host a fundraiser at your workplace, there’s an option for everyone. Check out the details on their website.
Franklin County Children’s Services Holiday Wish
Opportunities for serving kids in need this season include donating new toys (through December 23), holding a toy drive or donating money/gift cards. Find more details here.
Star House serves homeless youth in Columbus all day, every day. While volunteer opportunities are currently on hold due to the pandemic, Star House can still use monetary donations, donations of specific items (which must be mailed, as in-person donations can no longer be accepted) for clothing and hygiene products, donations of specific items for their recently-housed youth via a separate Amazon wish list, gift cards, and pre-prepared meals (which must feed up to 65 people). Star House also provides donation drive opportunities. For more information on how to support these at-need youth in our community, click here.
United Way Holiday Drive
Through Dec. 10
United Way is hosting a community-wide holiday drive until December 10. Find the items needed and drop-off details here, and note that you can donate as an individual or get involved as an office team by hosting a Giving Tree.
The Van Buren Center in Columbus hosts 250 women, 300 men, and 227 children who would otherwise be homeless. Donations can be given in various ways, whether you purchase hygiene kits, welcome-home gifts for those who are successfully housed, furniture, gently-used clothing and household items, and more. Get all the details this season here.
Roots Café Pre-Packaged Meal Prep & Serve
Weekdays | 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Roots Café, operated by Mid-Ohio Food Bank, needs help putting together and serving pre-packaged meals out of their location at the Reeb Avenue Center. Volunteers work in groups of varying sizes, and masks are required for the safety of volunteers and recipients. Find shifts here.
Meals-on-Wheels is serving more people than every before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The community has the opportunity to assist with food delivery to neighbors who are elderly, medically challenged or homebound in a safe and socially distant way. Routes take 1-2 hours, but the holiday cheer is priceless. Options include one-time opportunities and Adopt-a-Route regular volunteer programs; there many ways to volunteer. Consider trying it out, especially if your own holiday plans have been disrupted. If you enjoy your experience, there are needs for permanent route coverage as well. Learn more here.
Other LifeCare Opportunities
More ways to get involved and serve in our community this season include working in the food pantry, helping in the kitchen, lending a hand for Senior PetCare (delivering pet food and supplies to homebound residents), working at the Columbus Cancer Clinic, holding a supply drive, and helping in the office. Find details here.
The Greater Columbus area is home to many different food pantries; consider looking up the ones in your neighborhood. These crucial community resources often need canned food and can most likely provide you with materials to hold a food drive at your workplace. Or, see if they can use volunteers for serving meals or sorting donated goods.
Ronald McDonald House
Meal Program – Groups of up to ten (+18 years of age) learn and prep a meal for the families of hospitalized children (note – donation required in order to purchase ingredients). More information available here.
Welcome Blanket (no-sew tutorial available!) – Every family that arrives at Ronald McDonald House is provided with a Welcome Bag, and that bag includes a blanket for the child being hospitalized. This is an opportunity to work on a meaningful project in your own home or with a group of friends, and the blankets can be dropped off once completed. Ronald McDonald House recommends a no-sew blanket creation tutorial here; to get more info on who to contact and where to drop off your project, click here.
Snack Pack Volunteers and AmazonSmile Wish List – Like the blanket opportunity above, this is a way to help out those in need from your own home or space, or via your computer. Shop the House’s AmazonSmile bulk supplies wish list here and send the supplies right to the House, or buy supplies and prep bags on your own time for drop-off when finished. View snack pack FAQs here.
Family Mentor Foundation
Help by preparing Buddy Boxes, which are food boxes sent home with children in the Worthington, Columbus, and SW City School Districts each Friday during the school year. Today, 2,000 kids are on a waitlist to receive Buddy Boxes. Help by donating monetarily, donating food via an Amazon wish list, or volunteering your time – more information is available for corporate and group packing events here. (Please note that suggested donations are requested from volunteers to help with operational costs. Face masks are required for volunteers, and most opportunities for volunteers are child-friendly.)