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November 1, 2018

2018 List: How to Volunteer as a Family in Tampa Bay

By Rosie Raggio

Our list of places to volunteer as a family is one of our most popular stories each year, so we’re bringing it back just in time for the 2018 holiday season! We share stories about empathy often in the pages of our magazine because we believe it is important we teach our children to care for their neighbors. One if four children in our own community do not know where their next meal is coming from. When your child volunteers their time to sort food that will help feed a child in need, they will leave with a sense of pride but also a continued: drive to serve others.

Metropolitan Ministries hosts a Holiday Tent in downtown Tampa where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to make the holidays special. More than 10,000 volunteers spend serve in the Holiday Tent each year distributing food and toys to thousands of families in need in Tampa Bay. Children over 12 years old can also volunteer with their families in the Metropolitan Ministries kitchen, helping prepare meals for those who need it. Learn more about volunteering at Metropolitan Ministries: metromin.org/volunteer.

Give Back as a Family in Tampa Bay

Feeding Tampa Bay allows children ages 5 and up to volunteer with their parents at the morning or afternoon warehouse volunteering sessions held daily from Tuesdays to Saturdays. The whole family can work together to help those in need. On designated monthly Family Nights, Feeding Tampa Bay will provide kid-friendly, age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages to bring awareness to the 1 in 4 children in our communities who go hungry, and give each family member the opportunity to learn and serve. Register for warehouse volunteering and learn more about all volunteer opportunities: feedingamericatampabay.volunteerhub.com.

Give Back as a Family in Tampa Bay

The Salvation Army Kettle Bells will sound in early November and will keep ringing through December 24. The entire family can take part in the Red Kettle tradition that began back in 1895. Money raised goes to local families for help with food, shelter and emergency assistance. You can learn more about how to take part in Tampa’s Salvation Army Kettle Bell program by visiting: salvationarmyflorida.org. There are more than 100 locations throughout Hillsborough that are perfect for you and your family to ring the bells and keep the tradition of giving going.

High-Risk Hope’s Books for Babies is an easy way to involve children with High-Risk Hope’s mission to help families dealing with premature birth. The children can a host school book drive or donate their own gently used books to be placed in NICU Napsacks given to the parents of premature infants. Learn more: highriskhope.org

Give Back as a Family in Tampa Bay

Hope Children’s Home takes in abused and orphaned children and provides them a family atmosphere with house parents who are always there to guide and encourage them. Hope Children’s Home is entirely supported by community members like you, churches, clubs, and organizations, so your family’s volunteer efforts are vital. Learn more about volunteer opportunities and create your volunteer profile at hopechildrenshome.org/new-volunteer/

Toys for Tots is the US Marine Corps Reserve program for helping families in need have the holiday season they deserve by collecting and distributing Christmas gifts. Families with young children can set up toy drives to collect donations in October, November, and December. Those with children over 16 can volunteer in the warehouse in the sorting process. To learn more about the Toys for Tots program, visit tampa-fl.toysfortots.org

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is committed to helping homeless animals by providing shelter and care. Children aged 5 to 12 can volunteer in the Paws for Literacy program in which they read to animals to make them feel more comfortable. Children under 16 are able to volunteer with a parent or guardian with services such as walking dogs, playing with cats, cleaning kennels, and more. Volunteers can also collect items from the wish list to donate to the Humane Society. Register for a volunteer open house or learn more about volunteering opportunities at the Humane Society by visiting humanesocietytampa.org/become-a-volunteer/

The Ronald McDonald House has many opportunities for the whole family to get involved. Children under 14 can help by making and decorating snack bags for families in the hospital, collecting items for the wish list drive, and holding penny drives to support the families. If you have children ages 14 and up, you can volunteer by preparing dinner for resident families at one of the four Tampa Bay Ronald McDonald Houses. To learn more about Ronald McDonald House and the volunteering opportunities available, visit rmhctampabay.org

Meals on Wheels serves seniors in the Tampa area who live independently in their own homes but require help getting the meals they need. You can volunteer with Meals on Wheels by delivering nutritious meals and providing daily visits for the homebound seniors. Children can help make the day brighter for seniors by riding along with their parents for meal delivery or by making gifts for the seniors to keep them from being lonely. You can visit mowtampa.volunteerhub.com to sign up to deliver meals.

More organizations to consider:

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful: Helps clean up the Tampa Bay area’s shorelines and waterways. keeptampabaybeautiful.org

Clothes to Kids: Helps provide new and quality used clothing to low-income or crisis school children in Tampa Bay. clothestokids.org

Your family can also help those impacted by Hurricane Michael. If you are looking for an organization to give to or volunteer your time, FEMA recommends families to visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster at https://www.nvoad.org