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.

Volunteers sorting donated art supplies at a PDX Parent Cares event.

Children- and Animal-Related 

  • Children’s Book Bank (Ages 6+): Help spruce-up donated books which are distributed to low-income preschool children in the Portland area. Tasks include wiping covers, taping torn pages, erasing scribbles, covering inscriptions, and reinforcing worn spines. Look for special family volunteer events where kids four and older can participate. Check out our review of the experience here.
  • 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. **See website, volunteer pause during the pandemic, but donations still welcome**
  • 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.
  • Make Treats for Dogs (All ages): Bake and donate tasty treats for some of the 5,000 dogs served by The Oregon Humane Society each year.
  • Create Toys for Cats (All ages): Create small catnip mice for cats looking for homes through the Cat Adoption Team.
  • Buy Nothing Groups: Have your children fulfill an ask from a family in your neighborhood with their hand-me-down toys and clothes in good condition.
  • With Love, which supports foster families, has a variety of volunteer opportunities, including washing clothes (which you can do from your own home).


Lucas Corona started a coat and blanket drive for the homeless, and met his goal of helping 1,000 people.
  • 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.
  • Oregon Food Bank (Ages 6+): 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.
  • 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.

Park/Neighborhood Beautification 

Volunteers planting trees at the Sandy River Delta.
  • Forest Park Conservancy (Roughly ages 8+): Help keep Portland’s biggest park beautiful with trail upkeep or habitat enhancement. No previous experience is required.
  • 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!
  • 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 Columba Estuary Partnership (All ages): Help preserve the Columbia River by planting trees at a Saturday-morning tree planting party. All ages/abilities welcome.
  • Portland Parks & Recreation Stewardship Opportunities (Various ages): Help keep your local park looking lovely by planting, mulching, removing invasive species, and just generally making things look nice.
  • Tryon Creek Park (Roughly ages 6+): Help beautify the park by pulling invasive ivy. Stewardship Saturdays take place twice a month September to June.


Photo courtesy CatLane
  • 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 centers, like Hollywood Senior Center.
  • Deliver a holiday meal with an organization like Sunshine Division. This will be their 99th year in a row of home-delivering holiday meals.

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. PDX Parent also hosts events for family volunteering, which we share in our print magazine, on our website, in social media, and through our newsletter.

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