Hero image for Franklin West blog on donating, and volunteering

The Season of Giving: Local Donation & Volunteer Opportunities

The holiday season and giving go hand in hand. While this time of year is a joyous occasion for many, some people struggle for many reasons. Giving our time, energy, or money to just causes helps improve the lives of people all around us and promotes thriving communities. There are several volunteer opportunities right here in Pittsburgh. Determine where you may have the capacity to give back.

Snow Angels 

Image from City of Pittsburgh Snow Angels

Pittsburgh may not get as much snowfall as cities like Erie, PA or Syracuse, NY, but we get enough to transform the Steel City into a winter wonderland, if only for a few days. It’s perfect for a beautiful, brisk stroll to a nice nearby cafe like The Coffee Tree Roasters in Shadyside. However, snow can be a headache for elderly members of our community as well as people living with disabilities. This is why the City of Pittsburgh developed the Snow Angels program to help those in need deal with the aftermath of a snowfall.

To sign up, visit the official website and fill out the contact form so the organization can pair you with a neighbor in need of snow removal. You will only be paired with one neighbor within a 10-minute walk from your home unless you specify on your registration form that you are willing to help multiple neighbors. A snow shovel and salt will be provided by your neighbor in need, so all you have to do is show up and start shoveling.

Not all volunteers will be matched with a neighbor in need. Pairing will depend on whether or not a neighbor has requested help. Additionally, you may not be assigned a neighbor right away, but neighbors can request help throughout the season. The program will keep in touch via text or email to let you know if and when you receive an assignment. If you wish to volunteer, please make time to clear snow within 24-hours of the end of a snowfall. You’ll make a big difference in the day-to-day lives of your neighbors, postal workers, and firefighters. Snow Angels, we appreciate your service!

This volunteer opportunity is open all winter long.

Phone Bank to Support Isolated Seniors

Image from The Neighbor Network to promote a December 2020 phone banking event

Image from The Neighbor Network

The holidays typically offer an occasion to spend quality time with the people in our lives who mean the most to us. The reality of the 2020 holiday season is that not everyone will have this chance to connect with family and friends. Seniors in our communities are among those most affected by the isolation brought about by COVID-19. Simply talking with them over the phone can help immensely in easing the effects of loneliness. 

This month, Repair the World Pittsburgh is hosting a phone bank to connect isolated seniors with volunteers. This event from Repair the World is part of a larger effort by the Neighbor Network to facilitate weekly phone conversations between seniors and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers for this event will participate in 45 minutes of discussion and training before making calls. These calls are simple, introductory conversations to pre-screen seniors so they may be matched up with volunteers for weekly phone calls.

This volunteer event will take place on December 15 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Online registration is open here.

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Image from Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

For almost 40 years, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has worked to limit food insecurity within our community and provide widespread access to nutritious meals. The efforts of this organization are only made possible by the many volunteers and donors over the years. There are many ways you can get involved and support this organization’s mission.

Depending on your availability and time commitment, you can volunteer on a one-off basis or a recurring basis with hands-on work. Volunteering is open to whole families, so kids (ages 6-12) can participate in giving back to their communities. Some of the more common volunteer events entail rescuing produce from local farms, sorting and packaging food at the Duquesne Warehouse, and giving food directly to people in need. Everyone is unique and has their own skill sets. The Food Bank actively seeks help for a variety of tasks, so indicate your unique skill sets when signing up.

The type of volunteer work varies seasonally and the Food Bank is taking health and safety precautions to protect volunteers and the people they serve. If you are unable to volunteer this season, then consider donating to help feed families during the holidays.

You can schedule a volunteer opportunity here or make a donation here.

Celebrate this season of giving by helping those in need. Nothing better encapsulates the spirit of the holidays and warms the hearts of others.