It can be tough to find local volunteer opportunities for kids, so we've compiled a list of places around Los Angeles and Orange County that allow families with younger children to participate.
Volunteering at home is a wonderful solution for families who want to make a difference, though there is nothing quite like helping out in your own community.
Has your family tried any kids volunteer opportunities around LA and OC, or the Inland Empire? Share your experience below by adding a review or suggesting another favorite organization for the list!
Helping Hands Pantry
Erynn: Helping Hands can use helping hands in its pantry facility, warehouse, office, mobile food bank, even its local gardens! The organization feeds more than 1,000 people every day, and that means plenty of volunteer opportunities for kids and families. The garden program lets volunteers "adopt a day" to help maintain and harvest the veggies at Chestnut Garden in Redlands, and older kids may be interested in helping with office duties or packing in the warehouse. Volunteer opportunities do open and close frequently depending on the organization's needs.
Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino
Erynn: Take a few hours to be part of Feeding America's efforts to alleviate hunger in the Inland Empire. Sign up online for shifts helping to package, sort, and distribute food items. The food bank also needs volunteers for special events throughout the year, plus skills-based volunteers for specific projects. They even offer remote opportunities for those who prefer to volunteer from home! Kids who volunteer must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult chaperone.
Huerta del Valle Garden
Erynn: Huerta del Valle is on a mission to cultivate a community of members who grow their own organic crops, and in so doing, work toward sustainable community empowerment and health. With dozens of community plots, a greenhouse, composting and vermi-composting, organic agriculture production, an education center, and a sustainable fruit orchard, there is plenty of work for volunteers of all ages to get involved in! Consider signing up for a CSA box to enjoy fresh, organic crops from the gardens, and further support their mission of community empowerment.
Ocean Institute Beach Cleanups
Shila: Sign up for two hour beach cleanup with Ocean Institute and help prevent trash from entering the ocean. Children who are younger than 16 should have be accompanied by an adult. The Ocean Institute provides trash pickers and bags for you and your group. Beach clean ups are offered once a month - check the calendar and book online.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
Gina I.: This large regional food bank provide nutritious food to all who need it, focusing on those who are most vulnerable. They even grow some of the produce they distribute! Distributions happen through partner agencies at more than 250 locations throughout Orange County. Volunteers as young as seven can help plant, harvest, weed and maintain the fields of Harvest Solutions Farm, and kids over 13 can also help out in the Distribution Center. All youth volunteers must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.
Restoration Day - Planting in Peters Canyon
Erynn: Teens can come help enhance this local habitat to make wildlife feel more at home! Common restoration activities include removing non-native plants, watering, picking up trash, and helping maintain the garden.
Irvine Ranch Conservancy Native Seed Farm
Erynn: The Irvine Ranch Conservancy manages the Native Seed Farm, where about 45 species of plants grow over 8 acres! The goal is to sustainably grow and harvest seeds for restoration projects, without affecting the natural environment and ecology of the area. And while the Conservancy has plenty of volunteer opportunities for grownups, the whole family can help tend to the Seed Farm, year-round! No experience is necessary, and the Farm provides all the tools and necessary training for numerous tasks. Minor volunteers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Union Rescue Mission
Gina I.: Help combat homelessness with Union Rescue Mission. From preparing and serving meals to sorting donations for the thrift store, there are lots of great ways families can get involved and volunteer. Have your own ideas about how you can help? They are always open to suggestions!
Gina I.: Calling all literary lovers...your local library needs your help! Public libraries often offer great volunteer opportunities for kids, teens and families. The LA County Library and OC Public Libraries each have multiple branches, and some cities also have their own independent library, so you can find a great volunteer opportunity near you without having to go too far. From sorting library materials and setting up displays to assisting with children’s story times or art activities, there are plenty of things to do that are appropriate for different ages and skillsets.
Grandma's House of Hope
Erynn: Along with other volunteer opportunities and programs to help the community, this organization preps bagged meals for kids - Nana’s Kidz Food Bags. Volunteers as young as five can volunteer with a parent or guardian to help pack non-perishable food items to help ensure that children who are homeless or living in insecure housing get the nutrition they need. These volunteer days happen regularly but you need to sign up ahead of time; slots often fill quickly!
Friends of the LA River
Gina I.: Founded in 1986, FOLAR is dedicated to sustaining the beauty and ecology of the LA River through cleanup initiatives. Their annual event was such a success, that FOLAR now works to clean the river year round through volunteer-led initiatives. In addition to these volunteer CleanUps, FOLAR also offers community events throughout the year to help Angelenos connect with their river, from nature walks to writing workshops to yoga and more.
Gina I.: Do your kids have a green thumb? Check out some great volunteer opportunities with TreePeople! Through local planting, tree maintenance, and restoration, TreePeople's mission is to "inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment." With events throughout the Los Angeles area, you're sure to find the perfect one for your family. Volunteer events are open to all ages, though children under the age of 14 should attend with a parent or guardian.
The Birthday Party Project
Alexandra F.: Volunteers help host monthly birthday parties at homeless and transitional living facilities at partner agencies around Los Angeles, where all children with a birthday that month are joyfully celebrated along with any children and family members staying at the agency. Families are welcomed and encouraged to volunteer together, setting up, decorating and helping out with party activities, though please note that each community agency may have unique age or other restrictions party by party. Adults 18 and older will be required to complete a background check.
Food On Foot
$25 suggested donation
Gina I.: Food on Foot is dedicated to strengthening the community and helping neighbors in need get back on their feet by providing nutritious meals, clothing, and work opportunities. Every Sunday, volunteers are invited to spend a couple of hours distributing food and other donations to their unhoused and low-income neighbors. All volunteers must register for a time slot online in advance, and a $25 donation is requested to help fund the food and gift cards that are distributed.
Gina I.: Baby2Baby is dedicated to serving low-income children from birth to age 12, providing diapers, clothing and other necessities. There are lots of great volunteer opportunities for kids and families, including hosting your own clothing drive, or taking part in sorting donations & stocking the warehouse. Volunteer sessions at the warehouse are two hours long and require advance registration on their website. Please note that volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated, regardless of age. Volunteers under 13 must be accompanied by a guardian.
Wednesday 12pm - 6pm
Thursday 6am - 6pm
Kelly R.: Since 1982, this Westside community celebration has been spreading generosity and love through providing a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone in need of the hospitality, along with essentials like haircuts, clothing, and medical care. The event is possible because of volunteers' time and donations. Help is needed for event setup on Wednesday, and for 2-hour shifts on Thanksgiving day. Register online for a shift, though drop ins are also welcome on Wednesday. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.
Westside Food Bank
Erynn: While Westside Food Bank hosts seasonal events that require volunteers, they also periodically need help sorting food in their warehouse. All ages can help organize and box food and other donations--just contact them directly for specific dates and times. Food sorting opportunities typically occur on weekends, afternoons or evenings.
Gina I.: The Surfrider Foundation uses its incredible grassroots network of volunteers across the country to protect local coastlines, waters, and beaches, preserving them for all to enjoy. Kids have the opportunity to collect trash and recyclables, keeping beaches free from debris. With chapters throughout Southern California, you can find family volunteer opportunities near you all year round! Be sure to check out your local chapter for additional events and volunteer activities as well.
Heal the Bay
Gina I.: Take part in protecting local beaches with Heal the Bay! Kids can take part in beach cleanup projects throughout the greater Los Angeles area, protecting California's valuable coastline and promoting sustainable policies for the future. Monthly cleanup events are open to all, though space is limited so sign up for their newsletter to be notified as soon as an event is posted. Heal the Bay also deploys volunteer storm response teams and offers a variety of other volunteer opportunities for those who want to get more involved.
Manna Conejo Valley Food Bank
Erynn: This Thousand Oaks area food bank helps feed around 1,400 people per month, and your kids can help out, too. While the standard volunteer program asks for ages 14+ only to help with computer, pantry, admin, and other tasks, younger kids can contribute by tending to your family's garden!
Families can pledge to contribute a "row" of fruit or vegetables through the Gardener's Pledge program. Once you harvest the food, kids can help deliver it to the food bank!
Primary photo: Photo by Adam Corey Thomas, courtesy of TreePeople
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