Giving back has long been held as part of the holiday tradition. It does not matter which holiday a person prefers to celebrate in December or if he or she celebrates at all. It is cold. Bills tend to be higher. Families enjoy giving gifts. All of this adds up to a lot of people needing help that many others are capable of giving. Boston stands by this tradition of helping others when the nights get cold and the festivities demand warm bellies and wrapped treats for children, individuals and families all over the city.
Photo Credit: Pine Street Inn

Photo Credit: Pine Street Inn

Pine Street Inn
444 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 892-9100

As an organization that treats needing a place to sleep like a hospitality business that runs on charity and volunteers, the Pine Street Inn needs a lot of both. In order to treat homeless individuals and families with the respect they deserve, this establishment needs donations and helping hands. This shelter helps roughly 1,600 people every single day. Helpers during the holiday season can serve food, prepare food, work as receptionists and even get involved with the Bulldog Running Club at the Jamaica Plain Stabilization Program.

Photo Credit: Samaritans, Inc.

Photo Credit: Samaritans, Inc.

Samaritans/Samariteens Of Boston
41 West St.
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 536-2460

Giving back is not always about giving money, a lending hand or expertise. Sometimes, it is just about being there, listening and appreciating the common humanity that we all share. With Samaritans, volunteers get to give people a friend or a listening ear as they contemplate ending their lives. This local suicide hotline accepts both adult and teen volunteers. Teen volunteers work with other teens from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. This season is hard on a lot of people who can benefit from an anonymous kindness in ways that really make a difference.

Photo Credit: Horizons For Homeless Children

Photo Credit: Horizons For Homeless Children

Horizons For Homeless Children
1705 Columbus Ave.
Roxbury, MA 02119
(800) 445-1480

Sadly, homeless children suffer far more issues than placement in safe homes. Horizons for Homeless Children aims to limit the impact homelessness has on the young children it affects in Boston. As a volunteer, individuals can work as Playspace Activity Leaders, fundraisers and more. Moreover, people who are quite busy this holiday season can help by donating or sponsoring a birthday for one of the young children by pulling together party supplies and a gift for the organization’s so-called Birthday Boxes. Speaking to a worker will give volunteers the best idea of what help the organization needs most this holiday season.

Related: Boston’s Best Volunteer Opportunities For The Family

Photo Credit: Rosie's Place

Photo Credit: Rosie’s Place

Rosie’s Place
889 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 442-9322

Rosie’s Place is an all-women’s homeless shelter and assistance provider. This organization runs purely on donations and volunteers, so it can always use the help. Volunteers at Rosie’s Place put in up to 60,000 hours of work every year. When individuals 16 and older go there to help, they are not standing around looking for something to do. Rosie’s puts them to good use. Volunteers can serve food, clean, visit with lonely women, play games and even teach ESL classes.

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

City Of Boston Animal Control
1 City Hall Square #811
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 635-5348

Not everyone needing help during the holiday season is human. The city of Boston is like any other city and has to take in animals that are mistreated, aggressive, abandoned, etc. The animals that are capable of being rehabilitated and adopted out need the care and socialization efforts of volunteers. These individuals help clean the city shelters, socialize the animals, walk them, groom them and otherwise care for them. Animal control needs help six days a week all year long, so making a few new friends during the holiday season is no problem.

Related: Boston’s Best Volunteer Opportunities for Kids

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at