Here’s how to give back to the Westchester-Putnam community this holiday season

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Photo by Julia M Cameron for Pexels

With the holiday season upon us, it’s the time of year to think about giving the gift of service. In our area, many local organizations are looking for volunteers between now and the end of the year. The opportunities vary, from nature-based service to feeding those in need. Below, we rounded up various ways to get involved right here in your community.



North Salem Open Land Foundation
The organization, whose mission is to preserve the natural beauty of North Salem by protecting open space, is seeking volunteers to help maintain two important preserves. On Wednesday, November 16, volunteers are needed at Baxter Preserve from 9:00 a.m. to noon to help clear vines from trees. NSOLF will provide all of the tools but ask that volunteers bring their own work gloves. On Tuesday, December 6 (rain date Dec. 7), volunteers are needed to help with winter maintenance at Durand Preserve from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will clean out and upgrade the tree tubes at a Trees for Tribs planting site in order to make room for spring plant growth. Participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes, bring water and garden gloves. Necessary tools will be provided by NSOLF. Volunteer hours will be provided to anyone who needs them.

Contact: Andrew Middlebrook (andrew@nsolf.org)
Nov. 16 at Baxter: click here to register.
Dec. 6 at Durand: click here to register

St. James Episcopal Church
Church members are organizing a day to assemble “packages of love” for women incarcerated at the Bedford HIlls Correctional Facility. Volunteers of any age are invited to participate. The packaging will take place at St. James Village Hall on Sunday, December 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The goal of this initiative is to bring some joy to someone who may not have smiled in a while. Can’t make the event but still want to donate? Click here.

Friends of Karen
This North Salem nonprofit provides emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with a life-threatening illness and their families. Every holiday season Friends of Karen hosts “Adopt-A-Family,” a program that pairs a Friends of Karen family with a caring person who wants to fulfill the family’s wish list for the season. Volunteers can choose to buy one gift for one child or several gifts for several children. Friends of Karen includes gift-wrapping materials when they send the donated gift(s) to the child’s family. The organization also welcomes donations of gift wrap, tape, bows and holiday candy. To volunteer, complete this form by November 21.

Community Center of Northern Westchester
Every year, the Katonah-based organization collects food and monetary donations for its holiday food drive. Frozen turkey and chicken, flour, sugar, coffee and tea, hot chocolate and cookies are highly requested. To make a monetary donation, click here.

The Community Center is also returning its "Share the Warmth" program this year, which collects new pajamas, scarves, hats and gloves for children, ages infant through 18 years. The items will be distributed beginning December 1. Donations can be dropped at the Center, located at 84 Bedford Road, Katonah.

The Agape Project
This nonprofit seeks to help families along the Westchester-Putnam border facing food and housing insecurity. Right now, The Agape Project is collecting donations for its Thanksgiving to Share project, which aims to provide 1,000 meals to transitional communities in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and East Harlem. Each meal is $15 and consists of organic roast turkey, traditional sides, and dessert. The last day to donate a meal is November 20. Agape volunteers will collect and deliver the meals directly to the locations throughout the region. Click here to learn more.

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