Find a way to give back with volunteer & donation opportunities in Houston

Volunteers pack boxes at Houston Food Bank | Courtesy of Houston Food Bank

Help support Houston’s communities with volunteer opportunities and donation drives at charitable organizations.

Across Houston, a wide array of charitable organizations are striving to meet the needs of children, families, and community members, hoping to make the city a more equitable place to live.

This MLK Day, you can participate in this national day of service by beginning your volunteering journey with an organization that needs your help to serve communities in many different ways.

We’ve gathered 10 organizations that rely on the work of volunteers to help underserved people, neighborhoods, and others in need, through hands-on and virtual opportunities.

But if you can’t make a volunteer shift, most of these organizations will happily accept donations in supplies or cash considerations to support their missions.

Volunteer Opportunities at Charitable Organizations in Houston

  • Houston Food Bank at Multiple Locations – Relying on a network of more than 1,800 local partners across 18 counties in the Southeast Texas region, Houston Food Bank serves around 1 million people from food insecure communities. You can help support their mission through money and food donations, or by volunteering your time to help sort, process and pack food for delivery at one of their multiple locations. Some opportunities are open to ages 13 and up.
  • BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions in North Houston – The city’s facility for pet shelters and adoption offers hands-on responsibilities for volunteers, including animal care, assisting in adoptions and special events, foster homes, foster pantry organization, administrative help and more. Volunteers must complete an orientation session to help them prepare for specific jobs. Open to ages 13 and up, parental supervision required for ages under 16.
  • Multicultural Education & Counseling through the Arts in First Ward – MECA, Houston’s arts and cultural organization that seeks to help development of underserved youth and adults, is seeking tutors for its community members in the fields of math, chemistry, English composition, history and reading assistance. In addition, volunteers can help with special events, fundraising activities, or with any special expertise they may be able to contribute. Open to ages 16 and up.
  • Kids’ Meals in Independence Heights – Every week, hundreds of volunteers help assemble and deliver meals for preschool-aged children across the city of Houston who face food insecurity, while also providing families with resources to help end the cycle of poverty. Open to ages 8 and up.
  • West Street Recovery in Northeast Houston – The community building organization is slowly resuming volunteer efforts to assist community members and families that continue to rebuild in the face of multiple climate and environmental disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey and Imelda, the COVID pandemic, and damage from Winter Storm Uri. In addition to general efforts like research, translating and gathering supplies, West Street has a high need for those with experience in plumbing, hanging drywall, painting, floor installation and other work for rebuilding efforts.
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Houston child receiving a meal from Kids’ Meals | Photo courtesy of Kids’ Meals
  • Target Hunger in Northeast Houston – Serving children, families and seniors in need of food assistance, Target Hunger is supported by hundreds of volunteers that assist in growing thousands of pounds of produce at the community garden, sorting and packaging foods at the warehouse, organizing food pantries and helping community members shop, and other opportunities.
  • West Houston Assistance Ministries in Westchase – The multifaceted community assistance work of WHAM provides one-on-one services to help children, families, and people who are homeless meet their food and financial needs, find jobs, and gain long-term self-sufficiency. Volunteer opportunities include registering members for food distributions and other services, working at the resale shop and food pantries, teaching computer and job search skills, and more. Open to student volunteers and ages 17 and up.
  • Star of Hope at Multiple Locations – Volunteers are an essential part of the outreach efforts from Star of Hope, a Christ-centered organization that seeks to meet the needs of individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness in the Houston area. Opportunities include distributions of snacks and hygiene items, meal preparations, adult literacy tutors, and more.
  • Literacy Council of Fort Bend County in Sugar Land – The Literacy Council is seeking online and in-person tutors for programs that teach adult students in classes like basic literacy, English as a Second Language (ESL), basic computer skills, US citizenship preparation, and GED preparation. Tutor volunteers should be able to commit for a minimum of one academic semester. Open to ages 18 and up.
  • Refugee Services of Texas Houston in Sharpstown – For nearly 20 years, RST Houston has provided resettlement services to more than 1,300 refugees and other displaced persons, thanks in part to the efforts of volunteers that assist in mentorship, administration, interpretation and transportation. With limited spaces for volunteers due to the COVID pandemic, supporters are also encouraged to help meet the needs of refugee families through in-kind donations via Amazon wish lists.
A BARC volunteer cares for a new resident | Courtesy of BARC

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A longtime Houstonian, Justin Jerkins keeps an eye out for all sorts of happenings in H-Town, including breweries, sports, concerts, must-see destinations and much more while serving as Editor-in-Chief of 365 Things to Do in Houston.