The Season to Give – Volunteering in the River Towns

After so much time in quarantine, getting back into our communities isn’t exactly easy. If you’d like to become more engaged through volunteer work, then we’ve got you covered. Check out these opportunities in the River Towns that range from one-time commitments to roles you can take on long-term.

WestFair Rides needs drivers throughout the River Towns

Driving and delivery: If you have a driver’s license and enjoy getting behind the wheel, many groups could use your help. RideConnect Westchester helps seniors live independently by providing rides when they need them, whether it’s to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment. Contact Karen to get started: kganis@fsw.org / 914-864-0955. In partnership with Magnolia Meals at Home, Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers to deliver wellness food to cancer patients in Westchester. Contact Jeanette – jsuarez@mowrockland.org – for more info. WestFair Rides needs drivers throughout the River Towns to help seniors 60 and over and the visually impaired 21+ get to their medical appointments. To volunteer, contact Arlene 914-752-2631 / volunteer@westfairrides.org.

Baby Blankets and Hats from The New York Milk Bank.

Arts and crafting: Calling all knitters and crocheters!  The New York Milk Bank (based in Valhalla) needs baby hats and baby blankets to tuck into new parent gift baskets (they also send them directly to NICUs, WIC, and other programs). Contact Roseanne Motti to get involved: rrmotti@nymilkbank.org. You can also tap into your creative side at the Hawthorne Foundation. Volunteers are needed in Elmsford at their music, pottery, and art programs for adults with autism and developmental disabilities. Check out Volunteer NY to help out: https://tinyurl.com/ysdud9nr.

Get things organized: If sorting and organizing provides you with a sense of zen, then these opportunities are for you. Open Door Family Medical Center expects over 3,5000 toy donations in their annual drive, and they need folks to help sort them by age group (among other tasks). Reach out to jlevy@odfmc.org to help get involved in their Sleepy Hollow or Ossining locations.

Winter coats for those in need at the Community Wardrobe

Also in Sleepy Hollow is Community Wardrobe, a free clothing exchange center organized by community leaders and the Horsemen PTA. Email communityWardrobe@horsemenpta.com for updates on volunteer times. And if you’d like to organize a drive or clothing donation from home, The Sharing Shelf needs all manner of family items like diapers (especially large sizes), wipes, socks, underwear, and hygiene kits to donate to Westchester families in need. Sign up on their website and reach out to info@sharingshelf.org with questions. Make-A-Wish’s The Wish House in Tarrytown can always use the help of volunteers, whether it’s in their office or at events (call 914-478-9474 to learn more).

Green thumbs: For those who love gardening, there are a few ways to get your hands dirty while helping out. The Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College in Valhalla has flexible hours for volunteering with special projects. Email wccnativeplant@sunywcc.edu for more info. Pleasantville Community Garden also needs volunteers throughout the year with garden work and food donations. Find out more at https://www.pvillegarden.org/. You can also give tours as a docent or greet people as an ambassador at the lovely Untermeyer Gardens in Yonkers by contacting gardens@untermyergardens.org.

GiGi’s Playhouse of Westchester, part of a network of Down Syndrome achievement centers

Mentors and teaching: If you’d like to connect with people on a personal level, consider one of these programs. The Cottage School is looking for mentors as well as monthly visitors to their Lunch Bunch Program in Pleasantville. Email Sandi to learn more: rosenthals@jccany.org. Literacy Volunteers of the Tarrytowns provides training to teach English with a learner (masked, in person at Warner Library or remotely) – write to lvttutors@gmail.com for more info. Westchester Community College’s Conversation Partners Program is another great opportunity to help students learning English – email volunteerwcc@sunywcc.edu. GiGi’s Playhouse of Westchester, part of a network of Down Syndrome achievement centers, is looking for all manner of volunteers—from program aids to folks who can teach classes like yoga, Zumba, or karate. Reach out to tsmith@gigisplayhouse.org to get started.

Food and cooking: There’s an abundance of local food pantries that will be happy to accept your time or donations. Feeding Westchester is a great place to start your search (email: volunteer@feedingwestchester.org). In Tarrytown / Sleepy Hollow, there’s also a collective called the Community Food Pantry (https://www.communityfoodpantryshtt.org). Further north, there’s the Croton-Cortlandt Food Pantry (contact Lois for more info: koebers@aol.com), as well as CHHOP in Peekskill (https://www.chhop.org/volunteer). If you know your way around the kitchen, cook brunch or dinner for the Meals That Heal program at the Ronald McDonald House in Valhalla (mealprogram@rmhghv.org) – and you can visit https://rmh-ghv.org/ to take part in their holiday auction from Dec 3-7th.

Farmer’s Markets: Local farmer’s markets do so much for our communities – and now you can help them in return. Reach out to your local farmer’s market to find out what they need – Hastings (info@hastingsfarmersmarket.org), Irvington (melinda.chappelear@gmail.com), the TaSH (info@tashfarmersmarket.org), and Pleasantville (info@pleasantvillefarmersmarket.org) to name a few!

One last great organization we love is Ossining MicroFund, a no-interest lending program run by volunteers. Get in touch here by emailing info@ossiningmicrofund.org. Gullotta House also works to help families in facing hardship, and you can reach out to volunteer on their website: https://www.gullottahouse.org/volunteer/.

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About the Author: Gina Carey