As Halloween decorations are packed away and jack-o-lanterns are removed from porches, thoughts shift from all things spooky to those of reflection and gratitude. November is a time dedicated to giving thanks. As you and your family reflect on your many blessings, consider finding ways to pay it forward. What better way to spend quality time as a family than by showing your children how simple acts of kindness can go a long way?
Here are some family-friendly Volunteer Opportunities in Indianapolis:
Angel Tree is a unique holiday assistance program that connects a generous individual or group with a deserving child (or “Angel”) in need. Families “adopt” a child and provide them with items from their personalized needs and wish list. Angel adoption is November 27- Decemebr 10 at Castleton Square and Greenwood Park Malls. Other ways to serve include assisting families as they shop for toys for their children, helping a child receive a warm winter coat, sorting bags and helping families on distribution day, ringing a bell or serving a meal. Contact: [email protected] with any questions!
Location: 3100 N. Meridian Street Indianapolis, IN 46208
Contact: 317-224-1037 or salvationarmyindiana.org
Art With A Heart offers a variety of art programs for at-risk children. Students ages 14 and up can assist the organization by prepping art materials, setting up classrooms, photographing art, setting up student exhibits, working with children and serving on the Junior Board of Directors.
Location: 2605 East 25th Street, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-602-7222 or artwithaheart.us
Best Buddies pairs students with intellectual or developmental disabilities with middle and high school peers to form on-to-one friendships. Many opportunities are available from starting a Best Buddies chapter at a school, interning in the Indianapolis office, donating products or helping at special events.
Location: 8604 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-436-8440 or bestbuddies.org/volunteer/
At Brooke’s Place, children learn to honor and cherish the loved ones that they carry in their heart. Through peer support groups and therapy services (individual/family counseling), children learn they are not alone. Together, they learn to recognize, express and embrace their thoughts, questions and feelings about grief and loss. We provide caring programs to support grieving children and their families in a safe and confidential atmosphere. Kids age 12+ can spend two evenings a month on a set schedule serving as Brooke’ Place Buddies. Buddies are the hosts of our support group nights that serve grieving kids and their families.
Location: 8935 N Meridian St Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46260
Contact: 317-705-9650 or www.brookesplace.org/
CHEER is for children ages three to 12 and their parents. Families work to sort and stock shelves at the Mid-North food pantry on select weekend mornings throughout the year. The Mid-North food pantry services one of the poorest neighborhoods in Indianapolis. The organization also helps children to organize food drives at their schools, scout troops, neighborhoods, and churches.
Did you know The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is in fact a non-profit organization? Volunteers are crucial to their set up and families are welcome to work together in a team. They function as a single volunteer unit and will not be separated. Each opportunity is carefully crafted to allow families time spent together while giving back. Youth must be eight years or older to volunteer.
Location: 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis
Youth volunteer opportunities are open for students ages 10-18 including costume character portrayal, working with behind-the-scenes operations, assisting in the museum shop or helping with special events.
Location: 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers
Contact: 317-776-6000 or connerprairie.org
Families with children ages nine and up are needed to combat hunger in Central Indiana. Volunteers are put to work inspecting and assembling food baskets (including the BackSacks: Weekend Food For Kids baskets), performing clerical duties and/or helping with stocking and organizing items.
Location: 3737 Waldemere Avenue, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-925-0191 or gleaners.org
During the holidays, families can volunteer onsite at the Good Samaritan Network food warehouse helping underprivileged families choose toys and clothes for their children. Volunteers are also needed to help prep, serve and deliver meals during both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Year-round volunteers are needed to help sort food and other goods. Students ages 16 and up are welcome to volunteer without a chaperone;16 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Location: 12933 Parkside Drive, Fishers
Contact: 317-842-2603 or gsnlive.org
Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank staff will help families organize neighborhood food drives by delivering barrels and materials, and will pick up all donated items. Other opportunities available as outlined on their website.
Hendricks Symphonic Society welcomes children to usher and serve refreshments. Volunteers receive free admission and one ticket for a guest. All concerts are held in Hendricks County.
Location: 8103 E. US Hwy 36 #104, Avon
The Humane Society offers a number of different ways for families to get involved: Parents and kids ages eight and older can work onsite directly with the animals in the Parent & Me program. The Paws & Claws Club gives students ages 10-15 the opportunity to meet animals and learn more about the care they need. Families are needed to foster animals as they wait for a permanent home as well.
Location: 7929 Michigan Road, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-872-5650 or indyhumane.org
Zoo Teen volunteer opportunities, open to kids 14 and over, include learning about animals, assisting with special events, gardening and groundskeeping, animal care and serving as a naturalist.
Location: 1200 West Washington Street, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-630-2193 or indianapoliszoo.com
This eight acre, organic farm donates 100% of the fresh fruits and vegetables harvested to local food pantries. Volunteers of all ages are needed for weeding, planting, harvesting and cleaning produce. Families can set a time to work or participate in the open volunteering events held on the first Saturday of each month from 9 am-12 pm.
Location: 7700 East 21st Street, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-654-4217 or indyparksfoundation.org
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful opens up their volunteer opportunities to every age for activities like tree planting, picking up litter, park clean up, transforming vacant lots into pocket parks, Adopt-A-Block and various other community activities.
Location: 1029 Fletcher Avenue, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-264-7555 or kibi.org
Families can spend as little as one lunch hour a month delivering two weekday meals to Hoosier seniors who are homebound and in need of good nutrition. For some seniors, this interaction is the only interaction they receive that day.
Location: 708 E. Michigan Street, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-252-5558 or mealsonwheelsindy.org
Operation Christmas Child delivers boxes to children in need who live in over 100 countries around the world. Decide as a family whether you would like to send a box filled with goodies to a little boy, or girl, or you can always do one for each. Suggested items to fill the box with are: a quality “wow” gift such as a doll or soccer ball with pump, hygiene items, other fun toys, books and school supplies. Take your shoebox to a designated location during National Collection Week, November 13-20. Donate $9 online and receive a tracking label to follow your box and discover it’s destination. See website for drop-off locations.
Second helpings has multiple volunteer opportunities available to families such as collection drives, landscaping, van washing or cleaning and more. For teenagers ages 16 and up, onsite volunteer tasks are available. Families can also sign up for the “on call” list which alerts families to ways they can volunteer together throughout the year.
Location: 1121 Southeastern Avenue, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-632-2664 or secondhelpings.org
Shepherd Community Center relies heavily on volunteers and encourages family volunteer participation during special events and holiday programs. To volunteer at the center, the age requirement for an individual volunteer is 16 years of age. For group volunteers, the minimum age requirement is 12 years. The minimum age requirements may be waived during special events and holiday programs.
Location: 4107 East Washington Street, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-375-0203 or shepherdcommunity.org
There are many ways families can provide volunteer service to Wheeler Mission. One-time housekeeping, meal service or pantry inventory tasks are available. Assistance on a more regular basis at the Children’s Ministry or Recreation Nights is also needed. Youth under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or guardian present during volunteer hours.
Location: 205 East New York Street, Indianapolis
Contact: 317-635-3575 or wheelermission.org
Other ways families can volunteer from home
(Perfect for families with younger children)
- Have young ones draw pictures and transform them into valentines for your local senior community center.
- Using materials from home, create no-sew dog toys for shelter animals. (See Pinterest for plenty of easy ideas!)
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood or at your favorite park.
- Write letters to service members who are deployed. Send homemade pictures or cards to brighten their day.
- Take healthy treats to your local fire station along with some family artwork thanking them for their service to the community.
- Call your local library – many offer junior volunteer programs for kids to stack and organize books and perform other tasks.
- Pick a local fundraising walk or run with a mission close to your family’s heart. Work together to fundraise through a lemonade stand, bake sale or other method, and then participate in the walk together.
- Keep connected to websites like VolunteerMatch or DoSomething to search for other family–oriented opportunities in your area.