Nov. 16, 2023 By Amanda Salazar
With Thanksgiving coming up, now is a good time to think about ways to give back to your community.
Western Queens has a variety of volunteer roles available, from supporting the local parks to helping to fight food insecurity.
As it gets closer to the holiday, special Thanksgiving volunteer events may also pop up. Here are nine local volunteering opportunities to show your gratitude to the community.
Astoria Food Pantry
25-82 Steinway St., Astoria
The Astoria Food Pantry was founded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to support more vulnerable members of the community.
The pantry provides more than just groceries, though. It also provides free clothing, diapers and rentable books.
Each weekday and Saturday offers residents a different way to volunteer, like running the pantry on Monday mornings, operating the free store on Wednesdays and making grocery deliveries on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Astoria Food Pantry also accepts donations of unopened food, clean grocery bags, clean food containers, personal hygiene products and much more.
For more details on donations or to sign up for volunteering, visit their website.
Sunnyside Community Services
43-31 39th St., Sunnyside
Sunnyside Community Services is a full-service nonprofit, offering pre-K, career readiness programs, home health aide training, social adult day care and more.
The organization’s services are centered around volunteers. There are several volunteer opportunities available for people ages 15 and up across five categories.
Youth services volunteers provide tutoring, homework help and enrichment activities for students in pre-school through college. Older adult services volunteers prepare and serve meals, teach classes and more at the Center for Active Older Adults.
Other volunteers help SCS with administrative tasks or visit homebound older adults.
You can sign up to volunteer online.
Jacob Riis Settlement
10-25 41st Ave., Long Island City
This organization serves the Jacob Riis Settlement Houses in Long Island City and other local public housing complexes, schools and community centers.
Some services include after school, sports classes, college readiness programs, older adult classes and free meal offerings.
Volunteers are currently needed to help with meal distribution at the Queensbridge Houses on Monday and Tuesday mornings; to remotely tutor adult immigrants for their citizenship exams and to teach English; to mentor tweens at the Long Island City library branch; and to beautify and maintain the community garden at the Jacob Riis Houses.
To volunteer, reach out through the website.
Hunters Point Parks Conservancy
2-17 51st Ave., Long Island City
Are you one for nature? If so, then the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy might be the organization for you.
Originally founded in 1998, its mission is to protect the greenspaces in Long Island city through environmental stewardship and education.
Volunteers can sign up to garden, prune plants, pull weeds and collect trash from Hunter’s Point South Park and Gantry Plaza State Park.
Companies can also book corporate volunteer days for groups.
To find volunteer dates, check out the website. There’s also the option of making charitable donations to keep the conservancy running.
Astoria Park Alliance
19 19th St., Astoria
The Astoria Park Alliance works to maintain Astoria Park, which is a 60-acre greenspace along the East River, with a focus on sustainability.
The alliance hosts public programming to get people to engage with the park and to care about conserving it. The organization hosts volunteer days every week, with varying themes and activities to give regular participants different opportunities.
Some examples of volunteering events include shoreline cleanups, daffodil bulb planting days, street tree care and leaf collection.
To attend a specific volunteer event, sign up for it on the website.
Sunnyside Community Garden
38-1 50th St., Sunnyside
Sunnyside Community Garden is yet another nonprofit dedicated to keeping a local greenspace clean and healthy, this one in Sunnyside.
The first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is a volunteer cleanup day, with dates running from April through November. Cleanups are open to the public, regardless of garden membership, and don’t require registration. Volunteers do weeding, replanting and general cleanup.
There’s also a composting group on Sundays and some Saturdays. If you’d like to claim your own garden plot to take care of, you can apply online, though there’s currently a long waiting list to get a spot.
Queens Public Library
The Queens Public Library system also accepts volunteers across its 66 locations in the borough. The branches in Astoria, Sunnyside and Long Island City are good places to start.
Volunteer opportunities span adult education projects, one day events, children’s programming and more.
To get started, you can apply to become a volunteer on the website, with prospective participants having to undergo an interview, a background check and a virtual orientation. Once those are complete, you’ll be able to start volunteering.
The list of offerings is long and includes things such as helping kids with homework, teaching a chess club, tutoring adults in math for their GED and aiding librarians.
27-40 Hoyt Ave. S, Astoria
HANAC was founded in 1972 to serve the needs of the growing Greek community in western Queens.
With an influx of Greek immigrants, there became a need for English language education for new arrivals and social services for older adults, so the organization created a senior center and began providing English lessons.
Now, HANAC provides social services to the community regardless of ethnicity and maintains 650 affordable housing units for seniors. HANAC volunteers can select from 11 volunteer opportunities, including visits to seniors, clerical support, arts and exercise instruction, event planning and more.
For more information, visit the website.
Mount Sinai Queens
25-10 30th Ave., Astoria
Interested in medicine? Mount Sinai Queens is a private hospital that welcomes volunteers to fulfill some specific needs.
Here, volunteers can act as ambassadors to welcome visitors and patients, keep elderly patients in the emergency department company, assist nurses, support the administrative offices or even bring their dogs in to comfort patients.
Adult volunteers are required to work six hours a week for six months, while high school volunteers are asked to work four hours a week for a full semester, though they’re welcomed to dedicate more time if desired.
If you’re interested, you can email [email protected] to get started.
- *This story was first published in the November issue of BORO Magazine.