AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the holiday season in Central Texas, which comes with ample volunteer opportunities for those looking to get involved or give back. Here’s a look at some of the organizations you can get involved with this holiday season, by category.
Austin Animal Center
Many animal shelters throughout Central Texas and beyond have reported critical capacity levels and heightened intake. To help out, AAC has volunteer opportunities for people as young as 13 years old, with specific requirements based on their age.
Specific areas of volunteer work include dog and cat adoption volunteers; enrichment volunteers who play with dogs and cats and help them exercise; shelter greeters; feline medical assistants; and outreach volunteers who assist at community events.
Outside of volunteering, AAC also requests fosters who can help provide in-home care for animals available for adoption, as well as accepts monetary and pet item donations.
Austin Humane Society
The Austin Humane Society accepts volunteers ages 14 and older to help with animal care and outreach projects at Central Texas community events. Specific volunteer program areas include cat or dog socializing; pet photography; clinical and community cat support; educational support; and adoption support.
People can also help with fostering services for dogs and cats who are up for adoption but need a place to stay outside the shelter. Foster opportunities also include Foster Friends, the AHS program where 6th to 12th graders help care for animals, with permission from parents or legal guardians.
AHS accepts donations to assist with shelter operations and medical services as well.
Austin Pets Alive!
People as young as 12 years old are eligible to volunteer with APA!, with some parental and guardian involvement and specific requirements.
Volunteers can help with adoption and fostering support services, APA’s thrift store, dog and cat programs, medical assistance and outreach efforts at community events.
APA! also requests fostering services for both dogs and cats, and accepts donations, kennel sponsorships, medical chip-ins, among others.
Central Texas Food Bank
The Central Texas Food Bank (CTFB) requests volunteers to help with its food access services. Volunteer opportunities are available on both weekday and weekends, with opportunities at mobile food pantries, in the CTFB warehouse, at community kitchens and in CTFB’s garden.
Those interested can also make one-time or recurring donations to CTFB.
Hope Food Pantry Austin
The Hope Food Pantry is requesting volunteers to help prep and stock dry goods and fresh produce on Tuesdays ahead of Thursday, Friday and Saturday distributions, as well as distribution efforts on Thursdays and Fridays. Other volunteer needs include food pickup and delivery assistance.
Donations can be made online or via mail when sent to the following address:
- Hope Food Pantry
4001 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751
Those interested can also help organize a food or fund drive for Hope Food Pantry.
Sustainable Food Center
The Sustainable Food Center specializes in farmer support, cooking and gardening work, food access and policy resources. While SFC’s individual volunteer roster is currently full, those who are interested in future opportunities can check in with SFC’s weekly newsletter on new volunteer recruitments.
Volunteer services include outreach help at farmers markets and community events, data entry work, general administrative volunteers and assistance with seed packing for SFC’s Spread the Harvest work.
SFC also accepts one-time or recurring monetary donations as part of its Seeds of Change Initiative — a $50,000 goal to support small farmers and food producers while increasing food security.
Environmental, conservation groups
Austin Parks Foundation
The Austin Parks Foundation (APF) helps care for the city’s parks, trails, green spaces and community gardens. While there aren’t any volunteer events currently listed, APF’s evergreen volunteer opportunities include participating in its Adopt-a-Park program, promoting its Leave No Trace initiative, fundraising for APF and selecting the organization as an Amazon Smile nonprofit.
APF also accepts monetary donations. For item donations, APF suggests contacting a local recreation center to see if there are any specific items needed.
Explore Austin focuses on leadership and mentorship opportunities through outdoor recreations. Volunteer mentors commit to a multi-year period where they work with children from the start of middle school through high school.
Explore Austin features monthly adventure-based challenges, with a weeklong summer wilderness trip in the summertime.
Outside of a mentorship role, Explore Austin accepts one-time and recurring donations.
Pease Park Conservancy
Group volunteer projects include mulching trees, seeding native grasses and wildflowers, spreading mulch and compost, removing litter from the park and watering trees. Do-it-yourself opportunities highlighted include picking up trash from the park.
Pease Park Conservancy also accepts one-time and recurring donations, along with contributions to PPC’s sustainability fund, permanent endowment and Amazon Smile.
Caritas of Austin
Caritas of Austin offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, including:
- Packing at-home hygiene care, snack care kits.
- Serving lunch in Caritas’ community kitchen (shifts run Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.).
- Client volunteer work, assisting with money management, transitions to permanent supportive housing and helping set up apartments for individuals or families moving in after experiencing homelessness.
- Administrative support at Caritas’ offices (shifts run Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.).
- Helping pickup and delivering donations, including food drive barrels and food drive collections, furniture, gift baskets and other household essentials.
Caritas also collects one-time and recurring donations, along with accepting donated care kits.
Foundation for the Homeless
Foundation for the Homeless focuses on rapid rehousing efforts, utility assistance and providing hot breakfasts and basic medical screenings to individuals or families in need. Volunteers can help serve hot breakfasts, collect personal hygiene items and non-perishable foods, tutor school-aged children, assist with administrative tasks and donate items like scarves, hats and other essentials.
Donations can be made online or via mail at:
- Foundation for the Homeless
6719 N. Lamar Blvd., Ste. D, Austin, Texas 78752
Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ volunteer opportunities include work with its food truck ministry, its greenhouse and on-site farm services and home preparations for new move-ins.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes also accepts one-time and recurring donations.
Book Spring works to support childhood literacy and connecting children from lower-income backgrounds with books and other resources.
Volunteers help read to children and their families, sort through book donations, record or live broadcast story time, provide book reviews and distribute books within the community.
Donations can also be made as one-time or recurring offerings.
El Buen Samaritano
Volunteers can help prepare and distribute food from El Buen Samaritano’s food pantry, become a lead instructor or teaching assistant with English as a Second Language courses and tutor elementary-age students, among other opportunities.
El Buen Samaritano is also accepting one-time and recurring donations toward its Hands for Hope 2022 initiative, working toward a $450,000 goal to help provide equitable food access.
Inside Books Project
Inside Books Project sends free books and educational resources to Texas prisoners to help promote reading, literacy and education opportunities.
Volunteers open letters from inmates and select titles that best fit their requests before packaging the books and sending them back to the inmates. Inside Books Project also accepts both monetary and book donations.
Make A Vet Sweat
Make a Vet Sweat (MAVS) centers on serving veterans who are navigating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as sponsoring applicants at local gyms to help veterans stay active and find a community.
Volunteer opportunities include assisting with planning or running events, helping with social media and marketing work as well as connecting with veterans through their gym members.
Donations can also be made on a one-time or recurring basis.
Veteran Affairs Central Texas
Volunteer opportunities at VA Central Texas include the following:
- Patient care: Escorting patients to clinics and programs; administrative assistance; visits with patients at medical clinics; driving veterans to their appointments
- Administrative support: Working in retail stores and cafeterias; assisting grounds crew with landscaping; office assistance; driving patients from designated pickup points to VA medical centers
Donations can be made online, by mail or in person when sent to:
- Central Texas Veterans Health Care System
Voluntary Service Office/135T
1901 Veterans Memorial Drive, Temple, Texas 76504
Physical items the VA accepts for donation are personal care items, new clothes, books, puzzles and games, blankets and both kitchen and cleaning supplies.