Many families want to find a way to volunteer together. After all, volunteering with your family is a great way to help others and model giving back to the community. Volunteering with kids can seem daunting, but fortunately, Portland is a great place to get involved. Below you’ll find some opportunities for giving back in Portland.
Children- and Animal-Related
- Children’s Book Bank, now part of Smart Reading (Ages 6+): Donate or help spruce-up books which are distributed to low-income preschoolers and underserved elementary schools in the Portland area. Tasks include wiping covers, taping torn pages, erasing scribbles, covering inscriptions, and reinforcing worn spines. *Children’s Book Bank is currently reviewing its volunteer policy for minors after its merge with Smart Reading. We will update this post with the latest information as soon as possible.
- Northwest Children’s Outreach (Ages 4+): NCO accepts donated toys, clothing, books, baby gear, hygiene items and more. Volunteers sort and pack up donated items to be distributed to families in need.
- The Pongo Fund (All ages): The Pongo Fund is Oregon’s only full-time charity fighting animal hunger. They host kid-friendly Kibble Pack events where you and the kids can help repack bulk bins of donated dry food to be distributed to needy families and hungry pets. Follow them on Facebook or check their website for upcoming events.
- Oregon Humane Society (All ages): Bake and donate tasty treats for some of the 5,000 dogs served by The Oregon Humane Society each year. If your teen would like to volunteer, the Oregon Humane Society has volunteer shifts for youth ages 12-17.
- Cat Adoption Team (12+): Care for cats or assist with organizing the cat food bank! Parent must be present with minor during volunteer shift.
- Buy Nothing Groups: Have your children fulfill an ask from a family in your neighborhood, offering hand-me-down toys and clothes in good condition.
- With Love: With Love supports foster families, and offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, including washing clothes (which you can do from your own home).
- For Goodness Cakes: Put those baking skills to use and bake a birthday cake for a child in foster care. Kids can join in the kitchen fun and know that their creation is making a child’s birthday extra special.
- Multnomah County Library: Have a bibliophile at home who wants to give back? Multnomah County Library has volunteer opportunities for teens and tweens, the biggest being assisting with the annual Summer Reading Program.
- Meals on Wheels (All ages): Meals on Wheels encourages family delivery of meals. It takes about an hour to deliver the hot meals and spend time with the seniors and people with disabilities who receive them.
- Pride Days of Service: These monthly events are held by Pride Northwest, an organization that empowers and celebrates our LGBTQIA2S+ community. Volunteers under 16 must have a guardian volunteer alongside them.
- Oregon Food Bank (Typically ages 10+): Unpack and sort donated food destined for agencies that directly serve low income people in Oregon.
- Store to Door (All ages): Grocery shop for seniors and people with disabilities who are homebound. Think of it as a fun in-store scavenger hunt for a great cause.
- Neighborhood House (Age varies): Neighborhood House is an organization in SW Portland that addresses the community’s various needs by bringing neighbors together to reduce hunger and homelessness and educate both young and old. One of the most important arms of the organization is their food pantry, the largest one on the west side. Each spring they host a series of events called SW Hope, which includes many child-friendly opportunities.
- Blanchett House: Help neighbors experiencing homelessness at Blanchet House. Families can volunteer — from home! — by making sack lunches and hygiene kits, as well as donating winter clothing.
- Portland Food Project. Fill a green bag with nonperishable food every two months and put it outside your front door. That’s it! This is an easy and ongoing commitment to practice with your kids from home.
- Check out this article for great tips on talking to kids about homelessness, and ideas for how even the youngest kids can help our neighbors currently experiencing homelessness. And learn about more organizations feeding Oregon’s families here.
- Forest Park Conservancy (Roughly ages 8+): Help keep Portland’s biggest park beautiful with trail upkeep or habitat enhancement. No previous experience is required. Keep up with their events calendar to learn about the latest opportunities.
- Friends of Trees (All ages): Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome to help greenify Portland by planting trees. Just dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes! Parents must accompany youth ages 15 and younger.
- Johnson Creek Watershed Council (All ages): Help remove invasive species, spread mulch or plant native trees and shrubs at a restoration event. Most events are two to three hours on Saturdays; all tools, gloves and equipment are provided (they even have rain gear and boots!). Check their events calendar for upcoming events.
- Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership (All ages): Help preserve the Columbia River by planting trees at a Saturday-morning tree planting party. All ages/abilities welcome. Youth age 15+ may volunteer without a parent at select events.
- Portland Parks & Recreation Stewardship Opportunities (all ages): Help keep your local park looking lovely by planting, mulching, removing invasive species, and just generally making things look nice. Unless otherwise noted, all events are family-friendly, and they encourage parents to volunteer with their children.
- Tryon Creek Park (Roughly ages 6+): Help beautify the park! Volunteer opportunity posts typically list recommended minimum age for volunteers.
- Kids love to buy toys, so channel that energy toward these 5 Holiday Toy Drives.
- Artsy kids can make holiday cards to gift to hospitals or senior centers.
- Deliver a holiday meal with an organization like Sunshine Division. This will be their 100th year in a row of home-delivering holiday meals.
- The Christmas Family Adoption Foundation works with case workers and school counselors who nominate families with children to receive presents each December. Volunteers can become “adopting angels,” and purchase wish list items and deliver directly to the family, case worker or counselor.
For more ideas, check out the Hands On Greater Portland monthly calendar. You can also search for opportunities on their website, inputting your child’s age in the “Appropriate For” slot on the left menu.