Calling all volunteers! Looking for easy ways to give back to the Philadelphia community this summer?
Here are 10 organizations that offer a range of volunteering opportunities in Philly — from packaging food to trail maintenance to simply offering companionship to a senior citizen.
Most organizations have specific age requirements for their volunteers, though many allow them to be quite young — as long as someone over 18 accompanies them.
If you want to help:
Check out these volunteer opportunities in Philly this summer
HELP NOURISH BODIES AND SPIRITS
Caring for Friends offers food and companionship to Philadelphians of all ages. Volunteers may deliver food, cook meals at home, or simply offer their friendship to a senior citizen. The Caring for Friends warehouse is just north of the Northeast Philadelphia Airport. Those interested should sign up at this link. Volunteers ages 8 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult. 12271 Townsend Road, Philadelphia
If you’re interested in a kid-friendly environment to do volunteering specifically for children in need, Cradles to Crayons is perfect. Volunteers at the East Falls/Allegheny West warehouse sort, package, and quality-check donations. (Of course, you’re also welcome to donate goods for children ages 0 to 12, including new underwear, new arts, crafts, and school supplies, unopened diapers, wipes, and hygiene products, and gently used or new clothing and shoes.) The young, passionate staff members offer warm greetings, clear instructions, and willingness to assist you. Volunteer opportunities can be found at this link! Volunteers ages 6 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult. 4700 Wissahickon Avenue
HELP A LIBRARY
Students with community service hours to complete often satisfy the requirement at one of Philly’s 50-some Free Library of Philadelphia branches, which generally ask volunteers to work one to three hours per week for two to three months. Assignments depend upon your skills and a particular location’s needs, but can include shelving books, doing clerical work and reviewing books. To apply, fill out this form, with your preferred branch(es). Volunteers ages 14 to 17 require a parent or guardian’s signature. Volunteers 18 and up must obtain a criminal background check and clearance to work with children. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Various locations
HELP THE PLANET (AND A LOCAL PARK)
Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) is an organization founded in 1924 with the mission of preserving the nature of the Wissahickon Valley. Volunteers attend one of FOW’s service days and work on a range of trail maintenance projects throughout the park. To sign up, click an event on their calendar page. Volunteers under age 14 must be accompanied by a guardian; volunteers ages 14 through 17 must sign a waiver. Locations vary.
PRACTICE RADICAL HOSPITALITY
In the heart of the city, Broad Street Ministry (BSM) is a beautiful old church that hosts a wide range of “radical hospitality” services. Volunteers can sign up online to perform restaurant-style meal service, sort clothing or mail, or even serve as a shopping assistant for guests picking out items of donated clothes. Before each shift, BSM staff members warmly greet and train volunteers and often work alongside them for the duration of the shift. Volunteer opportunities can be found at this link. Volunteers ages 14 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult. 315 South Broad Street
HELP REDUCE FOOD INSECURITY
In addition to providing food relief for the hungry, Philabundance partners with community organizations that offer resources in education, financial literacy, housing, and health services that ensure longer term stability. Volunteers can help by sorting and packaging food at the Philabundance warehouse in Whitman (South Philly). Those interested may also offer services in the Community Kitchen or may distribute meals. Volunteers can sign up at this link. Volunteers must be at least 18. 3616 S. Galloway Street
Student writing nonprofit Mighty Writers pivoted to food distribution at the start of the Covid pandemic and has kept up feeding neighbors of its writing centers. Opportunities to hand out staples take place midday most weekdays at the S. 9th Street Italian Market, West Philly (3520 Fairmount Avenue), Vaux in North Philly (23rd & Master streets), and Camden, NJ (1801 Broadway), and elsewhere once a week. With after-school workshops paused for the summer, this is where help is needed most. Sign up here. Volunteers must be at least 14. Various locations
East Falls food bank Share Food Program fights hunger in the Philadelphia area by packaging and delivering nutritious food to those in need. Share offers a variety of ways to be involved, including sorting and packaging boxes of food, driving to deliver packages, and even making calls from the comfort of your own home to confirm deliveries. Within Share’s warehouse, volunteers are met with a smile from enthusiastic staff members who make themselves available to answer all questions and assist you. Sign up for volunteer opportunities at Share at this link. Volunteers ages 13 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult. 2901 W. Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia
Small Things Philly works through its Roxborough warehouse and community partners to provide food and hygiene products to Philadelphians in need. Volunteers have the opportunity to package and distribute items or to be delivery drivers. Interested individuals can sign up for public shifts; private shifts are also offered for larger groups. Sign up at this link. Volunteers must be at least 13 years old. Warehouse and delivery volunteers must be at least 18. 401 Domino Lane, Philadelphia
HELP MEN TRANSITIONING OUT OF HOMELESSNESS
East Germantown’s Depaul House is a facility for men transitioning out of homelessness. Volunteers have the opportunity to help move furniture, serve food, do laundry, sort donations, organize events, and even connect participants to services and resources outside of Depaul House. While all volunteers are welcome, Depaul House asks that younger volunteers are joined by an adult. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at this link. Volunteers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 5725 Sprague Street
HELP FURNISH HOMES
Not a food but a furniture bank, Juniata organization Pathways to Housing needs volunteers for a variety of services, including assistance with donation pickup and delivery, painting and repairs, data entry, and being a shopping assistant for participants selecting furniture. Pathways to Housing is open to volunteers Monday through Thursday from 10am to 3:30pm with shifts lasting four hours each. Sign up by submitting this application. Volunteers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 3650 I Street
HELP PHILADELPHIANS DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Our Closet is a program that provides clothing to Philadelphians in need through pop-up shops and emergency response packages. Volunteers can help by collecting donations, sorting and tagging clothes, managing pop-up shops, or hosting clothing drives. Our Closet’s warehouse is in Delco, and hosts pop-ups at a variety of sites around the city. You can volunteer as an individual or group at this link. Volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. 400 S. State Road, Springfield
HOW TO GIVE FROM HOME
One silver lining of the pandemic is that organizations needing help have devised ways to volunteer from home, such as:
Check out dosomething.org to learn how small actions: donating old jeans, picking up cigarette butts, collecting unwanted food from supermarkets, can make a big impact.
LOOKING FOR MORE?
The City of Philadelphia has a pretty great online volunteer hub where organizations post and describe opportunities to help all over the city, both in-person and virtually. You could also check out our guide to getting more involved in Philly for ideas, such as starting a community fridge or helping to register people to vote — all fun projects that could make a massive difference in someone’s life — and the future of our city.
MORE WAYS TO HELP IN PHILLY THIS SUMMER
Friends of the Wissahickon celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up on Harvey St.