Give Back: Ways to Donate Time and Money this Holiday Season

December 17, 2018

From Rockefeller Center to the Rockettes, from the pop-up holiday markets to the department store window displays on Fifth Avenue, there’s nothing quite like the holidays in NYC. And yet, so many people still struggle financially—and the winter months can make their toils all the more difficult. More than just a time of celebration, this is the season of giving—and of giving back. If you are looking for some ways to donate time and/or money to those in need this holiday season, we’d love to recommend a few trustworthy organizations and charities that are worth considering.

New York Cares Coat Drive

For some, a winter coat is the most important defense they have against the harsh NYC winters. For the 30th consecutive year, New York Cares is sponsoring its annual Coat Drive, during which the organization expects to give out its two millionth coat. New York Cares has made it exceptionally easy for people like us to donate to New Yorkers in need. You can give in one of three ways:

  1. Drop off a new or gently-used coat at one of the many drop off points across the five boroughs
  2. Text 41444 to make a monetary donation ($20 buys a new winter coat)
  3. Set up your own coat collection point—a great way to get your whole office or apartment building involved.

If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, New York Cares also has dozens of other initiatives that need you. See their website to find a list of volunteer opportunities.

St. John’s Bread & Life – Sponsor A Family 2018

This long-standing organization fights year-round to alleviate hunger and poverty in Queens and Brooklyn, serving about 3000 meals each day. Its annual Sponsor A Family drive raises funds to provide holiday meals and toys to needy families across NYC. A donation of $125 provides a generous holiday meal and gifts for one family. Sponsor one family, or as many as you’d like.

City Harvest

One of the largest food charities in NYC, City Harvest was born from the realization that many New Yorkers were going hungry while many institutions were throwing good food away. This organization specializes in “rescuing” millions of pounds of good, fresh food each year, and redistributing it to food banks and charitable organizations to feed those in need. City Harvest looks for volunteers to help with food collection all year-round, and you can also host a food drive in your office or residential building.

Citymeals on Wheels

One of NYC’s biggest meal delivery organizations, Citymeals delivers food in all five boroughs mostly to homebound elderly New Yorkers—and thanks to a partnership with the New York City Department for the Aging, Citymeals can devote 100 percent of your donation toward meals for the elderly, both at the holidays and all-year long. If you prefer to volunteer, the group also needs many extra hands and feet to deliver meals around the holidays, so volunteers are always welcome.

God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD)

This nonsectarian organization delivers meals year-round to people who can’t shop or cook for themselves, but their efforts really ramp up during the holidays, when they issue a call for extra volunteers (preferably with cars) to deliver thousands of meals in December and for the Winter Feast. Email them at to register—and don’t forget to check back next Thanksgiving, when your help will be welcomed again!

Operation Santa

The United States Postal Service has sponsored this campaign for years, and NYC in particular is one of the most active cities in it. The idea is simple, but brilliant: Millions of needy kids write letters to Santa, and volunteers pick up the letters, buy the gifts on the list and mail them to the children. In days past, the James A. Farley Post Office at 421 8th Avenue served both as the point to pick up letters and bring back the packages. Nowadays, donors select letters for Santa online and bring the gifts to the Farley Post Office for shipping.


Currently operating soup kitchens in Borough Park and Flatbush, Brooklyn and in Rego Park, Queens, this New York institution serves 100,000 hot meals a year in its restaurant-like dining rooms, plus nearly 2 million more in the form of emergency grocery packages for those in need. They are in constant need of donations and volunteers, especially around the holidays.  Right now they are in need of additional financial help as they move to a new location in Queens. To volunteer, simply fill out their online form and they will get back to you.

These are just a handful of the many reputable NYC organizations serving the needs of New Yorkers during this holiday season. Whether you choose one of these charities or have a favorite of your own, we urge all Kew tenants to consider finding at least one way to give back this holiday season, whether in time, money, or both. Your generosity can make a huge difference in the life of our community.