Holiday Guide

10 Ways to Give Back This Season

Lend a helping hand to Rhode Islanders in need by donating to or volunteering with these local organizations


1. TapIn in Barrington serves the East Bay community as a source for everything from basic needs like food, toiletries and household essentials to volunteer transportation for those who need help getting to appointments. Another crucial item to volunteer: time. Lend a hand by greeting clients, unloading and organizing donations or even helping out with the organization’s IT and social media needs. They’re also happy to take on high school-aged volunteers around the holidays.

2. The East Bay Food Pantry in Bristol runs a grocery-store-style food pantry which allows its clients to pick and choose products based on their household size and needs. To do this they purchase food from the Rhode Island Food Bank at rates as low as five cents a pound for some items, meaning monetary donations go a long way towards their efforts to support the community. Since these needs aren’t unique to the holidays, they’re always looking for new sustainable donors – those who contribute monthly – to keep their shelves stocked all year long.

3. For over 40 years, Amos House has been serving the Providence community through a galaxy of programs, including a soup kitchen, literacy and workforce training, financial assistance and transitional housing. They welcome donations of food and household items like bedding, hygiene items and strollers, and their soup kitchen takes volunteers aged 14 and up for breakfast and lunch shifts.

4. Child & Family in Middletown has been hard at work supporting Rhode Island families for over 150 years, driven by the central belief that a community is at its best when it accepts responsibility for all of the people in it. For the holidays they’re looking for donors to provide a gift basket of non-perishable items for a family’s Thanksgiving meal or to purchase presents off of a child’s holiday wish list. Monetary and gift card donations are accepted, too, and there are plenty of other opportunities for donors and volunteers to help throughout the year. 

5. Children’s Friend is the state’s oldest child welfare organization, providing family support services through their offices in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls. During the holiday season they work with volunteers to provide items like warm clothes, coats, toys and games for families all over Rhode Island as part of their annual Spirit of Giving Holiday Drive (November 23-December 22). Last year they were able to make wishes come true for 5,050 kids thanks to the efforts of

6. Crossroads RI is the largest homeless services organization in the state and has been serving Rhode Island’s most at-risk citizens since 1894. They offer housing and shelter for families and individuals, as well as educational assistance such as Certified Nursing Assistant training and GED preparation. As with all of these organizations, monetary gifts go a long way, but volunteering time to help out with laundry, moving clients into a new home or helping in their kitchen are all welcome ways for you to lend a hand.

7. Happy Baskets is committed to making sure that every family in the Cumberland area has a happy holiday by assembling and distributing holiday food and gift baskets in November and December. To fill the more than 700 baskets they’re expecting to distribute this year, they’re looking for everything from fresh and canned food items, toys and monetary donations for all of those Thanksgiving turkeys. You can also pitch in by volunteering for basket making and delivery shifts, so be sure to check their website for dates.

8. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank has been serving the state for decades, distributing food to 60,000 people each month through a network of 167 partner agencies. There are plenty of items you can donate, including one-time and monthly cash donations, an old car and even stocks. And you know those Mr. Potato Head license plates? The Food Bank gets $20 from each of them. Be sure to save the date for their Holiday Food Drive Open House on December 9.

9. The North Kingstown Food Pantry is always accepting non-perishable food donations and monetary contributions, and they update their website and Facebook page with items they need each month. For Thanksgiving, they’re looking for help in putting together food baskets to provide a traditional holiday meal plus food for the following week for the more than 300 families
requesting aid.

10. Serve Rhode Island is the hub for volunteerism in Rhode Island, with a mission to get Rhode Islanders engaged with volunteer and service work throughout the state by connecting them with over 60 non-profits and AmeriCorps programs. As with all of the groups mentioned here – and the many more doing positive work for our communities – they’re committed to making Rhode Island a better place for everyone in it all year long.