I love living in Westchester County, partly because of all the opportunities it has to offer – including the opportunities to make a difference in our community. Westchester is home to hundreds of nonprofits that are truly amazing. As a Chair of the Community Service & Social Impact Committees at my kids’ schools, I have had the privilege of not only collaborating with numerous local organizations but also learning about many ways to involve kids and families in such activities.
“Everyone wants to (and can!) do some good. What makes a nonprofit really stand out is its ability to connect volunteers with fun, meaningful, and accessible opportunities to make an impact,” reflects my friend Lauren Medalie, an Edgemont-based consultant whose company Do Some Good provides philanthropic matchmaking and strategizing to help corporate and nonprofit clients develop the right charitable partnerships.
Indeed, supporting a nonprofit does not necessarily mean donating financially (though that is always appreciated, and every little bit helps). Rather, there are many ways to donate your time and skills – often with your kids – to support the incredible work of these local organizations.
I’ve created some of my most special Westchester memories to date by volunteering alongside members of my community. I firmly believe my children are learning valuable lessons by participating as well.
Here are some of my favorite local nonprofits that I’ve worked with.
Did you know that 1 in 4 Westchester families live in poverty? 914 Cares is a nonprofit that collaborates with more than 80 organizations working directly in our community to help those in need. Individuals (including kids 13+) and groups can volunteer to support those organizations’ operations or help with collection drives. You can donate items, including diapers, period products, sneakers, or winter coats and accessories. Learn more about how to help the work of 914 Cares here.
Bundles of Joy provides essential, everyday items to local low-income or homeless mothers and children. You can donate items (in new or nearly new condition) directly, including strollers, baby carriers, and seasonal items. Or you can run a collection drive for certain items in need. Learn more about supporting Bundles of Joy here.
Children’s Hope Chest provides help and offers hope to children in our community suffering from poverty, abuse, neglect, and illness. The organization strives to increase social action by promoting adult and youth volunteerism. I have helped organize drives to collect winter coats, blankets, books, toys, and games for the children’s programs CHC supports. Other ways to volunteer include supporting children with extra academic support. Kids ages 12+ can volunteer to help stock shelves and help food and clothing pantry clients collect their needed items. Learn more about volunteering with Children’s Hope Chest here.
Too many people go hungry in Westchester. Feeding Westchester seeks to change that by providing access to food that people need to thrive. More than 200,000 individuals each month (including children, seniors, and families) rely on Feeding Westchester’s network of partners and programs for a meal. Volunteers can donate their time to pack food or raise funds to provide food – and hope – to those who need it. Learn more about volunteering with Feeding Westchester here.
Girls Inc. equips girls with skills to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers and grow into healthy, educated, and independent adults who feel strong, bold, and smart. Program topics include media and financial literacy, college and career readiness, and health and sexuality. Volunteers can serve as expert speakers in programs and special events. Learn more about how to make an impact with Girls Inc. Westchester here.
Leukemia is the #1 diagnosed childhood cancer. LLS is a global leader in the fight against blood cancer with a mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS has many opportunities for local families to get involved, including the Light the Night Walk at Rye Playland and Moms in Training, a fitness program based in Scarsdale that trains women/moms to complete a 10K race every Spring. Learn more about getting involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society here.
My Sisters’ Place strives to end domestic violence and human trafficking by providing free education, outreach, and confidential supportive and legal services. Tens of thousands of domestic incident reports are filed each year with police departments throughout Westchester County, and the majority of abusive and violent behavior is never even reported. But there are many ways to help. You can volunteer by fundraising, writing kind messages, and spreading awareness. MSP also offers an amazing opportunity to provide hands-on support through its Sisters-In-Law program, where a volunteer (after extensive training) can accompany a survivor to hearings or appointments. Learn more about supporting My Sisters’ Place here.
Pleasantville Cottage Campus is a residential treatment facility for hundreds of children with unique developmental and emotional needs. The kids tend to be abused, neglected, or otherwise traumatized. Through Pleasantville, they receive counseling and other mental health and behavioral treatment and have opportunities for education, job skills, and more. There are many ways to support this work, including by organizing or donating to toiletry or holiday gift drives or visiting for lunch monthly to provide mentorship and companionship. Learn more about volunteering with Pleasantville Cottage Campus here.
WJCS Center Lane was founded in 1995 and was the first (and is still the only) program and educational center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) youth ages 13-21 in Westchester County. Volunteers can facilitate groups, plan and run events, or mentor teens who need supportive connections. Learn more about getting involved with Center Lane here.