2015 Holiday Family-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities in Central Texas

The holidays are coming, and for many families, that means giving. Before you fill your family calendar for the remainder of the year, check out the following volunteer opportunities that will make you feel good and leave the world a better place. Check back, as we will add more family-friendly volunteer opportunities to this post as we hear about them. Do keep in mind that some of these volunteer opportunities fill up quickly, so act fast!

h.a.n.d. logo

H.A.N.D. (Helping the Aged, Needy, and Disabled)
Until December 10th
H.A.N.D. works to provide exceptional, innovative care and support for those who need assistance with daily living, while inspiring others to do the same. H.A.N.D. would also appreciate homemade Christmas cards and desserts for their holiday party on December 10th. They have over 300 clients that receive these cards. Contact Claire Fallat at 512-477-3796 x224 or Claire.fallat@handcentraltx.org.


Operation Blue Santa
November 3-December 19
The mission of the Austin Police Operation Blue Santa is to provide toys and food for families in need during the holiday season. This charitable outreach began in 1972 when two patrol officers realized that some families on the patrol beat would not have gifts or food for their children at Christmas. Through generous contributions, families receive a full holiday meal and toys for each child up to the age of 14. Volunteers can sign up to wrap gifts in 1.5-hour increments,  put together food boxes on Food Night on November 18th from 6-8pm and to deliver gifts on December 19th. Email the form found here to sign up for a time.

turkey trot

Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot
Friday, November 20 – Thursday, November 26
Each year, the Turkey Trot relies on the help of more than 650 volunteers to make packet pickup and Thanksgiving Day logistics possible for this race. All of the event proceeds are donated to Caritas, which provides education and support services to working poor people to help them become self-sufficient. Volunteer opportunities include packet pickup at First Texas Honda and Luke’s Locker, event day registration at the Long Center, and clean-up after the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot is finished. View available opportunities and sign up here.


Canned Food Drive Ride
Saturday, November 21 at 8:30am
Bicycle Sport Shop and Easton Park have teamed up to organize a fundraiser to collect Thanksgiving food items for Central Texans that suffer from food insecurity. You can drop off non-perishable, healthy food donations at Bicycle Sport Shop’s South Lamar store during operating hours and/or be a part of the ride to transfer them to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas by bike. The free ride is a family-friendly event that is just under 15 miles round trip. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

united way

Family Volunteer Series: Holiday Cheer
Monday, November 21 from 10am until noon
United Way for Greater Austin is continuing the organization’s Family Volunteer Series with Holiday Cheer: A Family Friendly Volunteer Event to celebrate National Family Volunteer Day. Volunteers at Holiday Cheer will work on a variety of projects to give thanks and spread the spirit of giving to UWATX’s partners in the community, including creating ornaments for the Dec. 1st tree lighting at Webb Middle School, making cards of appreciation for teachers, and decorating bookmarks to be handed out with a book to each child at the tree lighting event. Volunteers are welcome to bring new or slightly used children’s books as part of the holiday book drive to ensure that each child at the St. John Tree Lighting receives a book. UWATX’s Family Volunteer Series is open to children of all ages. Children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian at all times.

MOWAM-logoMeals on Wheels and More
Thanksgiving/Christmas Day, prior to December 19 and more
Meals on Wheels and More seeks to nourish and enrich the lives of the homebound and other people in need through programs that promote dignity and independent living. The organization is looking for volunteers for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day meal deliveries. Arrive by 10:30am at Meals on Wheels to check in and get a delivery route. All new volunteers need to attend training and complete a registration process prior to delivery day. Volunteer assistance is also needed leading up to the Share the Love Event on December 19 with wrapping and bagging donations, sorting and routing items and delivering items. Meals on Wheels is also looking for volunteers to collect new blankets for a Blanket Drive for clients and new socks, Ensure, shampoo, soap, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and gift cards (HEB, Walmart and Target) to be delivered to clients. Please contact Linda Perez at lperez@mealsonwheelsandmore.org for more information and to register.


Operation Turkey
Wednesday, November 25 – Thursday, November 26
Each Thanksgiving, Operation Turkey effectively organizes local teams of volunteers – families, friends, and businesses – to cook, prepare, pack, and deliver thousands of hot meals and provide other necessities to many people in need. The day before Thanksgiving, volunteers are needed at Third Base to help sort donations. On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers are needed at several locations for food preparation, packaging and delivery. Registration will open soon here.

Pflugerville Blue SantaAdvertisementMonday, November 30-Saturday, December 19
Blue Santa is a joint effort of the Pflugerville Police Department and the citizens of Pflugerville aimed at providing holiday support for families in need. Sorting, wrapping, packaging and deliveries are done by volunteers. Child volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Please call (512) 670-5514 to schedule a date to volunteer.

Salvation Army Austin-logo2Salvation Army Angel Tree Gift Sorting & Distribution
December 2-18
Volunteers will be helping sort & distribute gifts for children in the Angel Tree program to the families. The Salvation Army’s age minimum is waived for volunteers ages 14 and older who are accompanied by an adult. Volunteers may be asked to lift up to 10 lbs. Volunteers can be reassigned upon arrival if they are not able to lift. Register online here.

trail of lights logo

Trail of Lights
December 4-22
In 1965, the Trail of Lights first appeared in Zilker Park to spark holiday spirit for the Austin Community throughout December. It has since grown into an anticipated family event, bringing merriment to people of all ages. The Trail of Lights Foundation invites the community to help present this event to the City of Austin by volunteering. From answering questions to assisting with holiday activations, you can help set the tone of this special holiday experience. Volunteers must be 16 years of age as of December 4, 2015 or accompanied by a parent or guardian. Apply online here.

foster angels

Foster Angels of Central Texas
December 7-14
The Foster Angels of Central Texas Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of children in foster care, ensuring that each child has his or her basic needs met, and to provide life-enriching and life-enhancing experiences whenever possible. Volunteers are needed to help wrap gifts for the Toys for Teens drive. Email intern@fosterangelsctx.org to sign up to wrap gifts during the following time slots:

  • December 7 from 11am-2pm
  • December 9 from 11am-2pm
  • December 11 from 11am-2pm
  • December 14 from 11am-2pm


Coats for Kids Youth Sorting Night
Tuesday, December 7, 7-8:30pm
The Junior League of Austin’s Coats for Kids program is a success due to the tremendous support received by the community year after year. Approximately 2,700 volunteers work together to sort, hang and distribute the thousands of winter coats donated for Distribution Day at Palmer Events Center. Children ages 8 and older, accompanied by a parent, will help sort and prepare coats. Except for Youth Sorting Night, all Sorting Week volunteers must be at least 15 years old and accompanied by an adult if ages 15-17. RSVP here.


Lady Bird Lake Cleanup
Saturday, December 12, 9-11am
In partnership with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, Keep Austin Beautiful organizes large-scale cleanups every other month, volunteer trainings, and a Rapid Rain Responder initiative to tackle trash from 24 locations along the shoreline and from watercrafts on and along Lady Bird Lake. Registration opens four weeks prior to the event.


If you want to make family volunteering a 365 days a year project, sign up for the Austin-based Little Helping Hands e-newsletter and jump on the organization’s Activity Calendar as soon as new volunteer opportunities are announced via email.

12 tips

If you’d like to pick a project that you can do at home, check out the Big Hearted Families’ 12 Holiday Volunteering Tips.

Do you have a favorite activity that isn’t on our list? Email us and we will add it!


About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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