Volunteering as a family is an extraordinary way to give back to your community while spending quality time together. Many people in our communities are in need of support, and the Washington, D.C. metro region hosts many organizations that provide assistance with everything from food and baby diapers to housing.
The following volunteer opportunities in the DMV offer age-appropriate tasks for young helpers so that all members of your family can give back together.
Animal Welfare League of Arlington
2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive, Arlington, VA 22206. 703-931-9241. awla.org
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington improves the lives of animals by providing resources, care and protection. The organization offers assistance to pet owners in need, including a free pet care essentials pantry and resources for those experiencing health or housing crises. One exciting volunteer opportunity for youth is the Paws & Read program that lets children from kindergarten through eighth grade read aloud stories to animals at the shelter.
7728 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814. 301-907-9244. bethesdacares.org
Bethesda Cares provides supportive housing to those who do not have it. Its goal is not to manage homelessness, but to end it. This group also operates a soup kitchen, clothing closet and shower program. Individuals can find multiple ways to volunteer with Bethesda Cares, from helping out with the meal program to working in the office. Check with the organization for age-appropriate tasks for kids elementary ages and older, including making cards and assembling snack packs.
Capital Area Food Bank
4900 Puerto Rico Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017. 202-644-9800; 6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, VA 22079. 571 482-4770. capitalareafoodbank.org
The Capital Area Food Bank is Washington’s leading hunger relief organization, which provides meals to 12% of the DMV’s population. You can assist with these remarkable efforts by donating food, delivering groceries, packing and sorting items at the food bank, distributing fresh produce at community farmers’ markets, tending to gardens and more. Capital Area Food Bank welcomes individual volunteers and groups.
Food & Friends
219 Riggs Road NE, Washington, DC 20011. 202-269-2277. foodandfriends.org
Food & Friends serves food to Washington-area residents who are living with HIV and AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses to provide them with the nourishment they need to manage their illness. The organization prepares and delivers specialized meals and groceries designed to meet the needs of their clients, offer nutritional counseling and create a sense of community for those who might otherwise feel isolated. Groups are welcome to volunteer together, and the organization has many ways that young people can help deliver and prepare meals.
Greater DC Diaper Bank
Mailing address: 1532 A St. NE, Washington, DC 20002; Warehouse address: 8860 Monard Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20910. 202-656-8503. greaterdcdiaperbank.org
The Greater DC Diaper Bank addresses a problem that many Washington-area families in poverty face: being unable to meet all of their needs, including buying diapers for their children. This organization provides basic baby needs and personal hygiene products. Families are invited to volunteer together at the organization’s warehouse location in Silver Spring. All ages are welcome to help bundle diapers, organize the baby pantry and review inventory. Read more about the Greater DC Diaper Bank and its founder, Corinne Cannon, in the November 2020 issue of Washington FAMILY at WashingtonFAMILY.com.
Northern Virginia Family Service
10455 White Granite Drive, Suite 100. Oakton, VA 22124. 571-748-2500. nvfs.org
Northern Virginia Family Service offers an array of services to local families to ensure financial, emotional and physical well-being, including immigration legal services, youth initiatives, workforce development and more. Its goal is to empower individuals to become healthy, involved members of their communities. The organization presents family-friendly volunteering opportunities that allow young people to help out through various group activities and drives.
We Are Family
1525 Newton St. NW, Washington, DC 20010. 202-487-8698. wearefamilydc.org
This Washington-based organization provides inner-city seniors with free services, advocacy and companionship. We Are Family relies on volunteers to build relationships and community with older adults. In addition to providing services such as groceries and gift deliveries, the organization advocates for the rights of seniors and organizes events. Families can volunteer to deliver groceries together or contact We Are Family to learn about additional current and upcoming volunteer opportunities.