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


Volunteer Opportunities in the Community:


O'side Turkey Trot
Hosted by:
 Move Your Feet Before You Eat Foundation
Tuesday November 23 - Thursday November 25
Oceanside

Participants are encouraged to “move your feet before you eat” this Thanksgiving at Oceanside’s 16th Annual Turkey Trot 5-mile or 5K run/walk. The event offers a costume contest, the largest teams competition, fabulous live entertainment on the course, and finisher medals for all participants. Volunteers help make the trop possible by serving shifts before and during the race. 

Father Joe’s Villages’ Annual Thanksgiving 5K Race
Hosted by:
Father Joe's Villages
Wednesday November 24 - Thursday November 25
San Diego

Father Joe's Villages' Annual Thanksgiving 5K raises critical funds for their meal program, which provides more than 1 million meals each year to our neighbors in need. Your participation as a volunteer at the race will help them continue to meet the growing needs of our community. On November 24 volunteers are needed to help with packet pick-up at Roadrunner Sports in Kearny Mesa from 10:00am - 2:00pm or 2:00pm - 6:00pm. On November 25 volunteers are needed to help with the 5K at Balboa Park during shifts that range from 5:30am - 11:00am. Volunteers must be at least 18-years-old. Email Liza.Heredia@neighbor.org to sign up. 

Rady Children's Hospital Auxilary Coronado Turkey Trot
Hosted by:
Rady Children's Hospital Auxilary
Shifts available 6:00am - 11:00am
Thursday November 25
Coronado

Support Rady Children's Hospital Auxilary by volunteering at their Turkey Trot. All net proceeds will benefit Rady Children's Hospital. Volunteers can select from shifts supporting packet pick up, tent set up and breakdown, directing race participants, distributing water and bandanas, or cleaning up after the event. Sign up to volunteer here

Thanksgiving Dinner at Solutions for Change
Hosted by:
Solutions for Change
5:00pm - 6:00pm
Thursday, November 25
Vista

Join Solutions for Change in hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 20-30 of their newest residents as they share Thanksgiving joy and community! They usually pair 2-3 families/groups together to provide and serve the meals since it's a holiday. Each volunteer signs up for the items they'd like to provide. Contact their volunteer team at volunteer@solutionsforchange.org to express interest in volunteering.

Holiday Gift Wrapping Party
Hosted by:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego
8:00am - 4:00pm
Wednesday December 8
Clairemont - San Diego

Help the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego wrap holiday gifts generously provided from their Toy Drives. The wrapping party will be held on December 8, 2021 at the Clairemont Branch from 8am-4pm. Dedicate an hour or stay for the entire event--it's up to you. Contact Kira Foody at KFoody@sdyouth.org for more information or to sign up. Learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego's holiday giving opportunities here.

Resident Christmas Party
Hosted by:
Solutions for Change
11:30am - 3:00pm
Saturday December 11
Vista

Every year, Solutions for Change hosts a Christmas party for their residents. They are looking for a few volunteer groups to host activity stations. Some ideas include but are not limited to: Christmas crafts, cookie decorating, face painting, hot cocoa station, or a Christmas game. Contact their volunteer team at volunteer@solutionsforchange.org to express interest in volunteering.

Santa's Workshop and Secret Santa Volunteer
Hosted by:
Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton
Tuesday December 14 - Thursday December 16
Oceanside

Volunteers will act as personal shoppers, manage storage containers full of toys, restock toys at the "workshop", and assist with check-in and bike assembly. Miscellaneous duties will be assigned as needed to support the mission. Interested in Volunteering? Apply Here.

Help Out in the Casa de Amparo Holiday Donation Center
Hosted by: Casa de Amparo
Shifts available 9:00am - 5:00pm
Wednesday December 15 - Friday December 17 & Monday December 20 - Wednesday December 22
San Marcos

Volunteers will be helping sort and wrap holiday gifts for the youth that Casa de Amparo serves and helping organize items as they come in for their general donation drive. Sign up as a volunteer with Casa de Amparo to get started. 

Parent and Child Shopping Day
Hosted by:
Solutions for Change
Shifts available from 9:00am - 7:00pm
Thursday December 16
Vista

When the holidays come around, Solutions for Change has many elves (volunteers) running around, spreading holiday cheer. On "Parent and Kid Shopping Day" their Community Room and Conference Room convert into Santa's Toy Shop. Children pick out the perfect gift for their parent(s) while parents pick out gifts for their child(ren). They need volunteers as toy sorters, runners, shopping helpers and gift wrappers. Contact their volunteer team at volunteer@solutionsforchange.org to express interest in volunteering.

Wreaths Across America
Hosted by:
Wreaths Across America
9:00am
Saturday December 18

Miramar - San Diego
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. 

Wreaths Across America
Hosted by:
Wreaths Across America
9:00am
Saturday December 18

Point Loma - San Diego
Wreaths Across America will be at Fort Rosecrans 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 info@handsonsandiego.org.


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. 

Adopt-A-Family
Hosted by:
Fallbrook Food Pantry
Start Date: October 25
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.

Adopt-a-Family
Hosted by:
Community Resource Center
Sign up Deadline: TBA
Drop off Date: TBA
All throughout the year, CRC helps individuals and families create paths to healthy food, stable homes and safe relationships. This year, their 39th Annual Holiday Baskets program will serve 900 households plus 200 seniors. Households will receive food, gifts, blankets and jackets in a drive-through distribution on December 4, while holiday gift bags will be delivered to seniors. The food and other items they provide help ensure everyone has a wonderful holiday experience, while giving low-income households some breathing room, so scarce dollars may be spent on other needs such as rent, utilities or transportation. As a supporter of their Adopt-a-Family program, you will register to provide a specific number of family gift boxes, with the required items in each box. CRC will provide you with the box, which you can decorate.

Adopt-a-Family
Hosted by:
North County Lifeline
Sign up Deadline: November 24
Drop off Date: November 29 - December 10
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.

Holiday Adopt-a-Family
Hosted by:
Interfaith Community Services
Sign up Deadline: October 1 - November 5
Drop off Date: December 3 - December 5
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: TBA
Drop off Date: TBA
With your generosity, Crisis House can be a beacon of hope for the families they serve. 

Secret Santa
Hosted by:
Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton
Sign up Deadline: TBA
Drop off Date: December 6-10, 8:30am - 4:00pm
The Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton SECRET SANTA  program provides gifts to active duty military families who have been refferred to them as needing extra help during the holidays. The military families are vetted and wish lists are distributed to donors with information about family size and their gift requests, clothing sizes, etc. Learn more here

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


Donation Drives
 

Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton

  • Santa's Workshop is open to all ranks at Camp Pendleton who need a little extra help and support during the holidays. Families are referred to the ASYMCA by Family Advocacy, New Parent Support Program, EFMP program, counseling organizations and Family Readiness Officers. Once referred, families have the opportunity to visit their offices and select gifts for their children. Since they are located on base, the best way to support the program is by purchasing items from their Walmart, Target, and/or Amazon registries. More information about their holiday programs can be found here

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego

  • Join the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego in providing Club families with a delicious spread this holiday season! Their goal is to collect 100 baskets for December holidays. You have two options to donate: (1) Sponsor a complete meal basket by donating $75. Their team will handle the rest. Donations can be made here. OR (2) Collecting food supplies, put together meal baskets, and deliver them to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego office in Clairemont. Make it a group effort by asking family and friends to help pack baskets. The food basket shopping list can be found here. Holiday food baskets will need to be delivered on December 8, 2021. 

  • Host a Toy Drive for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego by collecting new, unopened gifts for children ages 5-12 and delivering them to their office in Clairemont. The flyer with all the toy drive information can be found here. Collected toys will need to be delivered on December 8, 2021.

Casa de Amparo

  • You are invited to help make a happy home for all Casa Kids by contributing to Casa de Amparo's 19th Annual Holiday Donation Center! Companies and groups can help too! Each year Casa de Amparo supports over 525 Casa Kids and 395 families. They couldn't do it without generous gifts from supporters like you. Help them spread the holiday cheer this year by making wishes comes true! Casa de Amparo is collecting new holiday supplies, hygiene supplies, art supplies, and more. View the full list here. Donation drop off will take place 9:00am - 5:00pm on December 15, 16, 17, and 20 at 288 Campus Way, San Marcos, CA. 

Community Resource Center

  • All throughout the year, CRC helps individuals and families create paths to healthy food, stable homes and safe relationships. This year, our 39th Annual Holiday Baskets program will serve 900 households plus 200 seniors. Households will receive food, gifts, blankets and jackets in a drive-through distribution on December 4, while holiday gift bags will be delivered to seniors. Register to host/plan a donation drive to collect a specific item needed for distribution. Once your drive is complete, you’ll fill out another short survey to inform CRC of how much was collected, and then you’ll deliver the items during specified delivery dates. CRC asks that you only collect one item type per drive, so that each drive is delivering items of one type – this makes it easier for our volunteers to sort and pack boxes. 

Interfaith Community Services

  • Donate through Interfaith's registry of basic items (and few fun ones too) so that they can gift to both our unsheltered neighbors and to clients in their residential treatment programs who may have missed their Adopt-a-Family adoption deadline.

North County Lifeline

  • North County Lifeline’s child mental health program provides counseling to over 300 school-age children and their families annually living in Vista and Oceanside. Lifeline has an urgent need to provide counseling kits for families enrolled in their mental health services.

San Diego Center for Children

  • Holiday Hero Toy Drive: The Center's services to children and teens continues uninterrupted, even during these unprecedented times.  As the holiday season approaches, we know many families will struggle to provide presents and gifts - or even basic necessities in some cases - to their loved ones. YOU can help make the season bright for children and families - virtually or in person! Help the San Diego Center for Children collect gifts and raise funds to purchase toys, games, necessities and joyful experiences! If you or your group is interested in participating in the Holiday Hero Toy Drive, please contact Warren Johnson, Development Manager at (858) 634-8346 or wjohnson@centerforchildren.org

    Here's how you can get involved:

    • Be a Holiday Hero! Click the "I want to fundraise for this" button on this page; choose Team or Individual; customize your page, set a goal and have fun with it! (great for businesses or organizations!)

    • Drive-thru & drop-off in person! Sunday December 12th, 11am-1pm at their Main Campus (3002 Armstrong St., San Diego, CA 92111). This is their BIG DAY to collect lots of presents for youth and families served by the Center. Come say hi, drop off a gift and enjoy a sweet treat! 

    • Donation Station - Toy Collection Box: if interested in having a toy-collection box at your organization or place of business, please contact Warren Johnson at wjohnson@centerforchildren.org

    • Shop their wish-lists on Amazon and Walmart, and ship directly to the Center!

  • Thanksgiving Basket Program: Many of the children and families the Center serves are not only dealing with mental health issues that affect their family’s dynamic and individual well-being, but they’re also dealing with the stress of how they’re going to put food on the table due to the severe lack of resources. By providing a basket (or grocery bag) of nonperishable food items along with a grocery store gift card, you will help alleviate daily stressors for families and create joy for them as they spend time preparing and sharing meals together. Provide a Thanksgiving basket for a family of 4. Non-perishable food items (e.g.: rice, beans, canned vegetables, boxed potatoes) and a gift certificate to a local grocery store to purchase a turkey and other perishable items. If you or your group is interested in participating in the Thanksgiving Basket Program, please contact Warren Johnson, Development Manager at (858) 634-8346 or wjohnson@centerforchildren.org

  • Holiday Dinner Sponsor: Purchase a catered dinner for the Center's youth during the holidays. Especially needed for Thanksgiving and Christmas eve. Option to work with our team for logistics, or simply donate the cost ($500) and they’ll take care of the rest! Contact kmorett@centerforchildren.org for additional information. 

Solutions for Change

  • Solutions for Change is collecting donations from November 1 - November 16 for their Thanksgiving Box Drive. Each box should include a $25 gift card for a turkey, 1 box of stuffing, 1 box of mashed potatoes, 1 can of cranberry sauce, 1 can of gravy, 2 cans of vegetables, and 1 boxed desert mix. They are also collecting donations for their Toy Drive from December 1 - December 17. They are looking for new, unwrapped toys and gifts for their kids and parents (please avoid: cash, mature rated video games or electronics). More information can be found here

Traveling Stories

  • Traveling Stories matches students in kindergarten through second grade with trained reading mentors for weekly, one-on-one reading sessions and mentorship. Volunteers give students Book Bucks for every book they read. This is a powerful motivator, especially for reluctant readers. Students use their Book Bucks to order prizes from Traveling Stories' online StoryTent store. Every holiday season they ask supporters to help collect as many brand new toys as possible to restock their prize store. Because the Toy Drive is virtual, participating can be done without leaving your house simply by shopping on their Amazon Wish List! The toy(s) will automatically be shipped to Traveling Stories. The Toy Drive will go live Nov.12 and Toy donations will be accepted until Dec. 17.