‘Tis the season to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us—whether that means volunteering your time or collecting items to donate, there are many ways to help NJ charities right now. Now more than ever, charities are feeling the pinch, especially since fundraising events are still slowly coming back, and fewer volunteers are signing up to be in person. Scroll down for places where they could use some extra help, whether raising funds, showing up to help out, dropping off donations, or just doing good to help make someone feel special this #givingtuesday and holiday season.
Featured Photo Credit: iStock
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NJ Charities: Here are some ways to give back this holiday season
Volunteer at RWJBarnabas
Volunteers provide a vital part of the high-quality care that Robert Wood Johnson University Hospitals are known for. When you become a volunteer, you choose to be part of a team that genuinely touches the lives of patients, families, visitors, and staff. By contributing both your time and talent, you’ll be helping others, meeting new people, and learning new skills. Check out the volunteer programs for both adults and teens at both the New Brunswick and Somerset campuses.
New Brunswick – (973) 937-8507
Somerset- (908) 685-2952
Attend a special event
Jingle Bell Run 5k for Children’s Specialized Hospital
We will see you with bells on at the The Jingle Bell 5k Run. On Sunday, December 5th, join the Elizabeth PBA Local #4 for a family friendly day and support patients and their families at Children’s Specialized Hospital. Walk, run, or come by for a fun morning with Santa. All proceeds go towards vital equipment and services at Children’s Specialized Hospital. Registration begins at 7:00am at the Mills at Jersey Gardens.
Cost: Donation-based, $40 to register the day of
The Mills at Jersey Gardens – 651 Kapkowski Rd, Elizabeth, NJ 07201
Hoboken Jingle Bell Run
Put on your Santa suit and lace up your elf shoes. It’s time to sprinkle some holiday cheer and support for the Hoboken Center Food Bank. All runners will receive a full Santa Suit to wear on race day. And if you do not want to run the 5K, there is an option to join the 1 Mile Fun Run.
Pier A Park, 100, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Asbury Park Polar Bear Races
It’s the 58th anniversary of the Polar Bear races, and you can participate in a 1-mile run or a 5K run. There will be commemorative t-shirts available for all participants, awards for the top three male and female finishers, and age group awards.
Asbury Park Convention Center, 1300 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Holiday Express Benefit Concert
December 21 and 22
The Holiday Express helps others by offering the gift of human kindness during the holiday season to mentally and physically disabled adults and children, isolated individuals, veterans, those affected by addiction, and the homeless. By delivering music, food, gifts, financial support, and friendship, they help raise spirits and spread kindness onto others. This year’s concert will be in-person on two separate December dates.
Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, Basie Center Campus, 99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
Donate to a gift drive
Project Self-Sufficiency Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive
The Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive aims to collect new, unwrapped toys for distribution to children and teens in need throughout Sussex and northern Warren, and north Morris counties. Items can be dropped off at Project Self-Sufficiency in Newton in November and December, Monday to Thursday 9 AM-7 PM and Friday 9 AM-4 PM. There are a limited number of other drop-off locations, and you can call for more information. Donations of gift wrap, ribbons, gift bags, and boxes are also appreciated.
127 Mill Street, Newton, NJ 07860
Through this signature program of Monmouth County’s Family & Children’s Services (FCS), you can help brighten a family’s holiday season. By requiring both sponsors and recipients to remain anonymous, FCS can preserve the dignity of participating families. This year, this program is asking for gift cards by December 2, and donations are appreciated. Volunteers will then give families the gift cards in early December so they have time to buy their kids gifts for the holidays.
191 Bath Avenue, Long Branch, NJ 07740
Kids crave routines, especially in places like foster homes and shelters. The Pajama Program helps create comforting bedtimes for kids and boost literacy through pajama and book donations. The New Jersey chapter strives to encourage that change locally, and they have drop-off locations spread across several counties—to find one near you, click here. Make sure, like many NJ Charities, to call ahead of time for some locations drop-offs.
PO Box 36, Middletown, NJ 07748
Share a meal with someone in need
Move For Hunger’s Season of Giving Food Drive
More than 42 million Americans are currently struggling to put food on the table, and with the pandemic, the numbers are growing. Spread some holiday cheer by holding a food drive in your neighborhood. Enlist your kids to create and distribute flyers to encourage friends, family, and neighbors to donate non-perishable items like instant potatoes, canned vegetables, gravy, cake mix, pie filling, and hot chocolate. Celebrate the season of giving and show your kids that it can be fun to help others—it’s a win-win.
4 Hendrickson Ave. Suite #4, Red Bank, NJ 07701
Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey Family
The Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey in Camden is a home base for families while their children receive specialized treatment for life-threatening illnesses and diseases at nearby hospitals. You can sign up to help provide a meal to families, but they ask that all food donations be commercially prepared and packaged (takeout and catering counts, too) to ensure COVID safety.
550 Mickle Blvd., Camden, NJ 08103
Center for Food Action
The Center for Food Action (CFA) in Englewood provides food, housing, utility assistance, and advocacy services to northern New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents. Help families keep meals on their tables by collecting food this holiday season—and beyond. Bring your food donations to any of their five open food pantries during their business hours.
192 W. Demarest Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631
JBJ Soul Kitchen
JBJ Soul Kitchen (with two locations in Red Bank and Toms River) is a nonprofit Community Restaurant run by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation that serves paying and in-need customers. You can also register to volunteer—expect to talk with the patrons, serve food, and clear tables (for 15 years or older).
Red Bank- 207 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701 – (732) 842-0900
Toms River- 1769 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753 – (732) 731-1414
Volunteer or donate to local NJ charities
Moms Helping Moms
The Moms Helping Moms Foundation provides low-income families in New Jersey with the essential baby items like diapers that they need to give their children a safe, happy, and healthy start. You can donate money, time, items or host a drive too.
223 Stirling Road, Warren, NJ 07059
TRUE Mentors in Hoboken is a not-for-profit organization founded to help children develop healthy, strong relationships that allow them to reach their full potential. Sign up as a mentor for the 1:1 program or enrichment clubs program, and your high school student can register for the teen internship program.
601 Jackson Street 4th Floor, Ring Apt. #2, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer
With the goal to continue fulfilling research grants, this family-run charity in Middletown works to help researchers and doctors discover better cancer treatments for children. Each year, the nonprofit selects a different childhood cancer to focus on and sends all their donations to those research teams. Support the cause by starting a fundraising campaign, helping a specific family, volunteering your talents, or making a monetary donation.
PO Box 4064, Middletown, NJ 07748
The Michael Gerard Puharic Memorial Fund, Inc. is a Matawan-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing comfort and easing the burden for parents carrying and caring for seriously ill newborns. Consider volunteering, donating, or organizing a fundraising event.
PO Box 787, Matawan, NJ 07747
Asbury Park Music Foundation
The foundation’s life-changing music programs provide underprivileged youth in the area with confidence, discipline, and opportunities that improve their future success and economic mobility. Invest in the youth who benefit from this program by giving money, buying merch from their online store, or even donating new and gently used instruments or video/audio equipment (check the FAQs for more details about that).
621 Lake Avenue, Unit 1C, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Color A Smile
Color A Smile is a Morristown-based organization that distributes cheerful drawings to senior citizens, troops overseas, and anyone in need of a smile. It’s a fun way for littles to give back—and they get to express their creativity at the same time. Simply download a printable art page from the organization’s website (or have your kids create their own drawings), color it in with your littles, have them sign it, and then send it to Color a Smile. Looking to get more involved? Organize a virtual coloring party with friends and family to spread joy to others this holiday season.
164 Ridgedale Ave. Unit 7, Morristown, NJ 07960
Bridges Outreach, Inc.
In Summit, Bridges Outreach provides brown bag meals, toiletry kits, clothing, socks, and underwear to those in need living in Newark, Irvington, Summit, and New York City. The organization also provides new backpacks and school supplies for sheltered children in these areas. Consider making a donation or buying something off of their Amazon wishlist. You can also organize a drive to collect much-needed items—they’re currently accepting toiletries, clothing, and blankets. And if you want to provide meals, get the whole family to put together fresh and sustainable lunches at home. For both the non-food and lunch donations, call ahead to schedule a drop-off (their donation days and times may have changed recently because of covid).
120 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901
Bridge of Books Foundation
Wondering what to do with all the books that your kids have outgrown? This organization in Rumson can help get them into the hands of underprivileged kids. They provide books throughout needy communities in New Jersey to support literacy skills and encourage a love of reading. Want to get more involved? Host a book drive and have your kids create flyers to get the word out. Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for drop-off days and times.
PO Box 39, Rumson, NJ 07760
Catsbury Park focuses on unwanted cats and while their fundraising cafe is temporarily closed, you can still donate, buy from their online shop, or even browse pets you can adopt. Or, if you’re looking to bring a pet into the family, you’ll fill out a detailed survey, and then Catsbury Park staff will use that information to match you up with a cat from a shelter.
PO Box 1597, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Meals on Wheels
Nine million seniors face the threat of hunger, with millions more living alone and feeling isolated, especially during the last year and a half. Meals on Wheels provides meals (and a bit of socialization) to senior citizens and needs your help more than ever. You can sign up to prepare meals in the kitchen or deliver meals to seniors—the need for volunteers varies by community, and there are COVID-19 restrictions. If you want to help in other ways, make a cash donation or start a fundraiser to raise even more money for this vital program.
1-888-998-6325 to find a local chapter in NJ near you