Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

We're excited to see that you'd like to give back during the holiday season!

It is also a busy time for volunteer projects, so register early as spots fill up quickly this time of the year. Below is a list of holiday-oriented volunteer opportunities throughout San Diego County. We also encourage you to check out our volunteer calendar for opportunities year-round. 

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HandsOn Holiday Projects

Opportunities in the Community:

Father Joe's Thanksgiving Day 5K
Hosted by: Father Joe's Villages
Tuesday November 24th
Shifts: 10:00am-2:00pm or 2:00pm-6:00pm
Downtown San Diego
San Diego’s original and longest-standing Thanksgiving Day turkey trot may look a bit different this year as a virtual event, but its critical mission remains the same: To provide crucial funds to feed the homeless through Father Joe’s Villages’ meal program. Volunteers are needed to help at the run's packet pick-up. All volunteers must create an account on the Father Joe's Villages volunteer platform and then sign up for their shifts.

Wreaths Across America
Hosted by:
Wreaths Across America
Saturday December 19th

Wreaths Across America will be at Miramar National Cemetery to Remember and Honor our veterans through the laying of Remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each and every veteran aloud. 

Is your organization hosting a service opportunity for the holidays and would like it listed? Contact us at

Adopt-a-Family Programs

These are organizations that host programs that match their clients with generous donors who would like to give to families in need during the holidays. This is a list of opportunities for donors. 

Hosted by:
Fallbrook Food Pantry
Sign up Deadline: December 16th
Drop off Date: TBA 
Adopt-A-Family is a special program that the Fallbrook Food Pantry has been doing for more than 20-years now.  Uniting families living at or well below the Federal poverty level with those who can and would like to share in the Spirit of giving. Last year,  well over 400 families were adopted by local individuals, families, churches and organizations.

Hosted by:
North County Lifeline
Sign up Deadline: December 5th
Drop off Date: November 30th - December 14th
The holidays can be a time of joy and togetherness, but for many low income families it is the time of year they dread. These families are already making tough decisions, such as paying their rent or purchasing groceries, so holiday gifts are often out of the question. With your help, hundreds of Lifeline families can be supported this holiday season! The toys, clothing, gift cards, and household essentials collected for Lifeline’s families in need, help to give them a little extra help, and a happy holiday season.

Hosted by:
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
Sign up Deadline: November 30th
Drop off Date: No gift drop off
Every year, JFS partners with people just like you to provide holiday support to those who may not otherwise have the means to celebrate. Together, Embrace-A-Family brings smiles to children, vital items to seniors, and the holiday spirit to all who are embraced. The need is greater than ever as many individuals and families are experiencing financial challenges for the first time due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of COVID-19, JFS has adjusted this year’s Embrace-A-Family program model to ensure the safety of its participants, staff, donors, volunteers, and community. Therefore, physical gifts will not be collected and distributed this holiday season as a safety measure.

Holiday Adopt-a-Family
Hosted by:
Interfaith Community Services
Sign up Deadline: November 6th
Drop off Date: December 4th-6th
Every year the most conscientious, productive individuals and families Interfaith serves are nominated by staff for the Holiday Adopt-a-Family program. The individuals and families are then anonymously matched with generous adopters who fulfill their wishes for the holiday season and provide them with a feeling of comfort, support, and community.

Holiday Adopt a Family Program
Hosted by:
Crisis House
Sign up Deadline: November 16th
Drop off Date: TBA
With your generosity, we can be a beacon of hope for the families we serve. Last year, Crisis House created holiday cheer for 137 households and 364 children! As many of you know, Crisis House is moving to a new location before the end of the year! We are changing to a gift-card Holiday this year, instead of toy-exchange due to our pending move. We are hoping to provide families with gift-cards ranging from $75 to $100 per family member for gifts and a special meal! 

Sharing the Joy
Hosted by:
STEP (Support the Enlisted Project)
Sign up Deadline: TBA
Drop off Date: December 1-9
We are looking for individuals, companies, religious establishments, other non-profit organizations to help: Adopt service members and their families, host toy drives, and provide volunteers to help distribute gifts at our office this holiday season.

Winter Welcome: Wish List & Gift Card Drive
Hosted by: International Rescue Committee San Diego
Sign up Deadline: TBA
Drop off Date: TBA
This holiday season, give refugee and asylum-seeking families a 'winter welcome' with much-needed in-kind donation items as well as gift cards which allow families to purchase exactly what they need. Sign up here for more information on how you can participate in a variety of ways. 

Donation Drives

Awakening Giants

  • Awakening Giants is collecting toys to support over 600 kids for their Chirstmas on the Block program. They have seen the number of families in need increase tremendously. Donations are accepted through December 1st with the distribution taking place on December 12th, sign up here for more information. 

Auntie Helen's Community Thrift

  • Auntie Helen's is hosting a canned food drive from December 1st - December 24th for individuals with food insecurities and underlying health conditions. Non-perishable items such as canned meats, tuna, peanut butter, and cereals can be dropped off at their store Monday - Saturday, 10:00am - 3:00pm. Auntie Helen's is located in North Park at 4127 30th St., San Diego, CA. 

Interfaith Community Services

  • Interfaith offers support through North San Diego County in the areas of supportive services, housing, clinical & behavioral health, recovery & wellness, and employment & economic development. They have lists for their COVID-19 Crisis Needs and for their Make It a Home program. 

North County Lifeline

  • North County Lifeline’s mission is to build self-reliance among youth, adults, and families through high-quality, community-based services. Grocery store, ride service, and gas station gift cards can help fill gaps in basic needs for low-income families, while movie tickets can provide incentive to go the extra mile. View their wishlist here

Ronald McDonald House Charities San Diego

  • You can help families staying at the Ronald McDonald House celebrate this holiday season. Purchase items and drop them off at the Ronald McDonald House or select the Toy Wish List to purchase items from Amazon to ship to the House. Please note: Due to the sensitivity of patients and their families, please donate new items only. They will thoughtfully match your gifts according to the needs and interests of families at their House. 

Serving Seniors

  • Serving Seniors' clients often struggle to meet their most basic needs. You can help provide relief by organizing a drive or donating essential items from their wish list! They're hosting a special Giving Tuesday donation drive on December 1st for essential care items and social isolation items, view the wish list here

Support the Enlisted Project (STEP)

  • Help STEP address the immediate needs of our local military and Veteran community impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak by donating items such as: baby wipes, hand soap, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and gift cards. 

Think Dignity

  • Think Dignity's mission is to inspire, empower, and organize our community to advance basic dignity for those living on the streets. They are always collecting travel-size hygiene products, clothing, and outdoor supplies such as tarps, duffle bags, and flashlights. View their wish list here

United Way of San Diego County

  • United Way of San Diego County is hosting a holiday toy drive to provide gifts for 850 local families in need. Gifts can be purchased directly through their Target gift registry

Wesley House Student Residence

  • Wesley House Student Residence, Inc. is a nonprofit formed for the development and management of affordable housing for students in San Diego. Each school year they have new students move-in and need your help providing them with home essentials. Items can be purchased directly through their Amazon Wish List. For more information or any questions, contact Krysta Hughes,