Volunteering with your family is a great way to help others and model giving back to the community. This year that is more logistically challenging, but it is still possible  — and more people than ever need help. Read on to find ways your family can help this holiday season if you are able.

Make cards or host a food drive for Portland Backpack.
At six school locations, Portland Backpack distributes approximately 600 grocery gift cards and 1,600 meal sacks each month. Each food sack or gift-card envelope includes a love note. Your family can create and donate any amount of notes on 4″ x 6″ cards — a fun activity for all ages. You can also host your own packing event. Decide how many kids you want to feed, then purchase the food needed using the Portland Backpack food list. 

Help plant a nature patch with Portland Parks and Recreation.
Nature patches are spaces within existing parks that are enhanced with natural elements for people and wildlife to enjoy. With PP&R staff, volunteers add Pacific Northwest plants, logs, boulders, paths and learning elements to underused areas to encourage people to play and explore. You can sign up to help plant a future nature patch here

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Cook at home for youth experiencing homelessness.
Portland nonprofit p:ear builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth, ages 15 to 25, through education, art and recreation. They would love your help preparing nutritious to-go food for their clients. You can sign up to provide burrito sack lunches and/or baked goods for 50+ people. If you cannot provide that amount, you can reach out to make other arrangements. Your family can also donate specific items like water bottles, snacks and supplies.

Repair children’s books to be donated to kids who need them.  
We love volunteering with The Children’s Book Bank to repair books to prepare them for a new home. Although their in-person volunteer opportunities are on hold, you can still help get books into kids’ hands. Sign up to get started on your at-home book repair session. They’ll send you information about tools you need, as well as how to get books if you do not already have some to clean and donate. 

Pack a bag for the 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. The Portland Food Project is also looking for Neighborhood Coordinators who pick up donors’ green bags every two months on a predetermined Saturday and bring them to local food banks.

Make care kits for homeless Portlanders. Blanchet House, which serves 2,000 meals a day to homeless Portlanders, is asking for care kits and outdoor clothing in adult sizes that they can hand out. Assembling care kits is something even toddlers can help with! Find out what to include in winter care kits here.

Donate nonperishables to a local food bank like Neighborhood House in Southwest Portland or SnowCap in Fairview. Both are accepting food donations; you can check their websites to see what they need most. 

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Michelle Carew
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