christmas volunteer toronto

10 volunteer options during the holidays in Toronto

Volunteer opportunities during the holidays in Toronto are not limited to the popular Daily Bread food sorts and Mission Christmas dinner distribution. There are plenty (too many?) of other groups and organizations in the city that could use a helping hand or two, especially since charity services tend to be under extra strain during the holiday season. If you'd rather make a contribution beyond just an extra can of peas, check out these 10 volunteer opportunities for 2012 in Toronto.

Central Neighbourhood House
Operating on Ontario Street right by Dundas and Parliament, Central Neighbourhood House does a little bit of everything, including lending a hand to new Canadians and providing assistance to seniors in the community. While CNH could always an extra volunteer or two, of course, it is currently looking for volunteers who can help out with delivering small holiday gifts to clients' homes. Access to a car is a plus. Contact: 416-925-4363,

Holiday Helpers
Holiday Helpers lets you play Santa this season, albeit without the sleigh (must provide your own) and soaring cholesterol level. This non-profit organization delivers Christmas packages to low income families, and relies on volunteers for wrapping and delivery. More information can be found on the website in the hyperlink above. Contact: 416-214-3659,

Canadian Mental Health Association CMHA's holiday volunteer program is a little different. Instead of donating your time for the season, the public is asked to make a small donation for which a CMHA staff member will visit a client in his or her home and bring a few thoughtful holiday items. Call it donating "your" time. Donations can start at $25. Contact: 416-789-7957,

Yonge Street Mission
Volunteering for the Yonge Street Mission can be more than just serving meals. The not-for-profit organization needs volunteers to help staff its Food Market, its Toy Market, to deliver packages to seniors, and offer up some home-baked treats. These positions usually fill up fast, so if you're keen on helping the Mission, contact them soon. Contact: 416-929-9614,

Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto
On Gerrard between Jarvis and Parliament, the Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto is looking for a few extra hands to help out throughout the holidays. Catering to the needs of Aboriginal women and their kids, the centre needs volunteers to help out especially with its community daily lunch. Ongoing opportunities (as in, you're already tied up for this December) include tutoring and working directly with clients. Contact: 416-963-9963,

Riverdale Housing Action Group
With its Christmas party slated for December 20, the Riverdale Housing Action Group is looking for volunteers who can help wrap presents, organize inventory, and maybe even perform a song or two at the annual holiday event. The group provides affordable housing for low-income women and their kids, and is always looking for people who can volunteer their time for fundraising efforts. Contact: 416-469-3278,

Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities
The Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities is putting together the last of its Holiday Wishes packages. Volunteers can help to craft and deliver the boxes to needy families, and also help out with hospice visits and assist with meals on wheels. Contact: 416-847-4141,

Sistering's drop-in centre offers a safe daytime space for marginalized, homeless, or low-income women in Toronto. Its upcoming events include a hot holiday meal and gift-giving distribution, both of which could use a little help from volunteers. Potential volunteers are usually screened before participation. Contact:

Horizons for Youth
Like many Toronto shelters, Horizons for Youth may be under added strain this holiday, and could probably use a few extra volunteers for doling out meals and general centre upkeep. Serving homeless at at-risk youth, Horizons could also use toiletry and clothing donations, in addition to volunteer manpower. 416-781-9898 x 27

Photo via the Yonge St. Mission on Facebook

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