Over the past 10 years, United Way's Family Volunteer Day has hosted various projects throughout the community for families to engage in and give back to those in need. 

This year, we are once again offering a variety of safe and flexible ways for families to get involved --- from select in-person opportunities,  virtual opportunities, and ways to give through collections or simply donating in-kind items. 

Keep scrolling to find all the great projects we put together for Family Volunteer Season 2021: Holiday Edition!

QUICK JUMP MENUIn-Person Opportunities | Service To Go Projects | Virtual Projects | Collections & Drives



1. FeedMore WNY

Ages: 10 and up with an adult chaperone. 

Dates: Ongoing

Times:  Tuesday - Friday:  9:00 am - 11:00 am and 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
              Saturday:  8:00 am - 10:00 am and 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Duties: Warehouse/Food Sorting - Volunteers will be asked to sort through non-perishable food donations and package them in boxes to be distributed to our partner hunger-relief agencies. Volunteers may be required to lift small packages (up to 35-50 lbs.), should have good organizational skills, and must be at least 10 years of age (with a chaperone). The volunteer tasks can vary depending on what donations we may get in on any given day or week. Volunteers will be working in a warehouse and should dress comfortably. Closed-toe shoes are required in the warehouse at all times. Training will be provided.

Duties: Home Delivered Meals - Volunteers are needed to help deliver meals to our homebound clients in both Erie and Niagara counties. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday over the lunchtime hours (11am to 1pm), and routes typically take an hour to deliver. All meals get made in FeedMore WNY’s commissary each morning and then meals are delivered from the commissary to over 30 sites throughout the two counties. Volunteers are assigned to a site, one that is close to them as well as one that is most in need, they arrive to the site at a specified time and then from there volunteers will make a maximum of twelve stops. After delivery is completed, volunteers will bring the equipment back to the site. Long-term volunteers are needed for this project as well as short-term volunteers who are willing to help around the holidays.

Contact: Samuel Koch - [email protected], (716) 822-2005 x3048




2. The Teacher's Desk

Ages: 12 and up with an adult chaperone.

Dates: Ongoing

Times: See The Teacher's Desk website below for a full list of times. 

Duties: Various duties may include sorting products and preparing the store for teacher shopping, checking in new inventory and helping with the warehouse organization, and packaging items for the store while seated. 

Contact: Email The Teacher's Desk at [email protected]



3. Gateway-Longview

Dec. 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th– Sort Adopt an Angel gifts: flexible shifts during office hours
Dec. 17th– Gift wrap Adopt an Angel gifts: 3 hours during office hours or evening
Dec. 23rd 10:00am-12:00pm– Stuff Adopt an Angel thank you letters

Throughout the holiday season, festive activities such as cookie and Christmas tree decorating, caroling, bell ringing, movie nights, etc. are appreciated for youth in Residential care. Activities could take place on campus, but youth are encouraged to join community events

If you would like to facilitate a seasonal activity please reach out!

On Campus activities will all take place at 6350 Main St. Williamsville, NY

Contact:  Amanda Snyder, Volunteer Engagement Specialist

M: 716-260-0806 O: 716-783-3100 ext. 3106


4. Compass House

December 20th and 21st - Wrapping Gifts for the kids' Holiday Party.  

Please contact Alexis Addison to arrange times.

[email protected]



United Way's Service To Go projects are designed to be completed from your home or office. You collect the supplies and we connect you to agencies in need. Below we have curated three Service To Go projects to compliment helping your neighbors in need this holiday season suitable for the whole family.  Each project includes an overview flyer that explains the project and lists the benefiting local nonprofits as well as an instruction sheet (if applicable).  Volunteers should contact the local nonprofit directly to coordinate the drop-off of donated materials. 

1. Homemade Holiday Cards

2. T-Shirt Bags

3. Holiday In A Bag



The below projects can be completed virtually at home and are suitable for the whole family. Please work directly with each local nonprofit to receive more information and to coordinate drop off of donated materials. 

1. Handmade Ornaments for The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army would love to receive handmade ornaments for their shelter residents and for the Golden Age Center.

Contact:  Bryanna Gwitt -  [email protected]  or call  716-888-6220


2. Buffalo City Mission (various projects)

Contact: Please contact the senior volunteer coordinator at (716) 854-8181 ext. 419 for more information about the below opportunities. 

Virtual projects include: 

  • Holiday Coloring Pages and Holiday Placemats for their Hambone & Turkey Express Meal Delivery. Buffalo City Mission will mail the coloring pages & placemats to you.
  • Handmade Pillowcases for their homeless population: Buffalo City Mission will provide a link to a YouTube video to make “burrito method pillowcases”.
  • Thinking of You cards & letters for their residents of the Mission and Cornerstone Manor.

3. Personal Essentials Kits for the Matt Urban Hope Center

Volunteers will make Personal Essentials Bags for the unsheltered homeless population. Use the links below to access the instructions and a list of items to include.

Contact: Sarah Maurer - [email protected] or call (716) 893-7222 x232



Below is a list of local nonprofits that are always in need of donated materials. Host a collection or drive with your family and share the spirit of giving this holiday season. 


1. WNY Holiday Partnership

United Way of Buffalo & Erie County is a proud partner in the WNY Holiday Partnership—a collaborative of toy giveaway programs for the December holidays. Working together, the WNY Holiday Partnership members create one network where everyone can come together, without duplicate efforts and services, so that we can all maximize impact to help brighten the holidays for needy families. CLICK HERE to view the flyer and see the many ways you can help as many families as possible this holiday season. 

2. Adopt a Family 

Every year United Way of Buffalo & Erie County compiles a comprehensive list of our program partners who are offering the opportunity to adopt a family during the holiday season. CLICK HERE to view our updated Adopt A Family booklet and find the perfect match for your family this holiday season. 

2. Jewish Family Services 
Many of the families Jewish Family Services serve are unprepared for WNY’s harsh winters and lack resources to properly outfit their children for the cold winter months. Please donate new or gently used items from their wishlist to keep our community safe and healthy! CLICK HERE for the wishlist. 

3. FeedMore WNY
You can hold a food drive for FeedMore WNY without having to collect food or even leave home via a virtual food drive. You also have the option of hosting a contactless food drive to keep you and your family safe.  CLICK HERE for more information. 

4. The Teacher's Desk 
Hold a school supply drive for The Teacher's Desk. The most needed items are glue sticks, pens, pencils, and small tissue packs.

Contact: John Mika - (716) 348-3412 or email [email protected]ersdesk.org to coordinate drop-off. 


5. Gateway-Longview

Gateway-Longview would love donations of holiday/fall/winter decorations for youth to decorate their own living spaces. They currently have three common areas and about six groups of seven that would decorate doors and a hallway if families would like to drop off new or gently used decorations for the youth.  

Contact: Amanda Snyder - [email protected] or call office: (716) 783-3100 ext. 3106 or mobile: (716) 260-0806


6. Beds for Buffalo

Beds for Buffalo is a volunteer-driven program that works to builds beds for the children of Western New York that do not have adequate sleeping arrangements. Beds for Buffalo is a program of The Service Collaborative of WNY. We build and distributes twin sized bed frames, new mattresses and new sheet sets to identified community partners that serve families living in poverty. Beds for Buffalo responds to a problem that is not perceptible on the surface of everyday life, safe and healthy sleep environments for children.

Please help support the initiative by furnishing 200 beds for children living in poverty across WNY. We're collecting the following items listed below. In addition, you can support the initiative through our Amazon Wish List. 

**Please note that all items must be new**

  • Twin Size Bed Sheets
  • Twin Size Comforters
  • Twin Size Blankets
  • Standard Pillows
  • Stuffed Animals

Adam M. Bartoszek | Director of Participant and Volunteer Engagement

The Service Collaborative of WNY, Inc.

298 Northampton Street | Buffalo, NY 14208

P: (716) 418-8500 x150 | F: (716) 822-3060 | C: (716) 444-0737