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The Most Rewarding Places Kids and Teens Can Volunteer in New Jersey

I am always on the hunt for places my kids can volunteer in New Jersey, I want them to learn at an early age how rewarding volunteering is. I want them to learn how helping can help brighten another person’s day and bring their community together. April is National Volunteer Month but it’s always a good time to help out your community.

Kids learn by example and believe it or not most of us volunteer in our daily lives and don’t even realize it. Do you coach your son’s baseball team? Maybe you are a Girl Scout leader. Are you on the PTO/PTA at your child’s school? Then, you are already a volunteer!

Just giving back an hour a month to pick up trash in your park, or sort supplies at a food bank is volunteering. Why not find a way to include your whole family?

Kids spell the word volunteer with their hands

Why Families Should Volunteer Together

Most families agree that two of the most important lessons to be taught are developing strong character and being a good citizen of the world. Of course, those lessons are part of a parent’s everyday…be nice to your brother, say “thank you,” don’t litter. But how do you find opportunities that put those lessons into action as memorable life experiences?

Lynne Algrant, Executive Director of the Bergen Volunteer Center in Hackensack says, “Volunteering is the ideal way to show children of any age that the universe does not revolve around them. It shows that anyone can make a valuable contribution in this life.”

“Volunteering is a terrific family activity. Watching a child go from receiver to giver is a moment that a parent never forgets. For the child, seeing or imagining the result of his efforts…a tidy yard, a smiling soldier, positive response to a community project…well, that is the beginning of a lifetime habit of helping others,” says Algrant.

Bergen Volunteer Center Easy Volunteer Ideas for Kids
Meeting teens from outside your comfort group, working side-by-side, learning new skills, high-fiving the fruits of your teamwork…volunteering is a great experience for high school and college students.
TIP: Encourage participants to take photos, tag themselves and share them publicly on social media. It’s something they will WANT college and job recruiters to stumble on–and it’s great PR for your program. |Photo Credit Bergen Volunteer Center

Algrant, herself the parent of two teenagers, continued: “While they enjoy the self-satisfaction of doing good, kids who volunteer build up their self-esteem. They learn new skills and teamwork, they network, and they get a front seat to see how organizations operate. It’s no wonder that studies show that they do better in school.”

8 Reasons to Volunteer as a Family

  • Volunteering bring families together to work as a team to help complete a goal.
  • It’s a way grown ups can be positive role models for children and their peers.
  • Shows kids how to care for others.
  • It’s rewarding, lets your family be proud of something.
  • Give the community more pride.
  • Shows others that people care about them.
  • Teaches responsibility, sacrifice, tolerance, and even in some cases job skills.
  • Brings communities together, when friends find out you are volunteering they may want to become more involved as well.
children plant flowers for a community garden

Tips for choosing a Family Volunteer Project with kids

  • Have a family meeting to discuss what is important to each of you and lay out a game plan.
    • Do you want to work outdoors and clean up a park or creek?
    • Are you better at organizing and want to help a food bank organize supplies and collect more food to fill the shelves.
    • Do you like to work with the elderly? Visit a senior center and spend time playing games or talking with residents
  • Once you have decided on the type of volunteering you want to do, pick a date(s) and times you have available.
  • Find a project that meets your list of factors.
  • Contact an organization you know or one from our list of places kids can volunteer in New Jersey to get started.
Adults and children hold trash bags from a community clean up in New Jersey

Where Can Kids and Teens Volunteer in New Jersey

Food banks and shelters, animal rescue farms, soup kitchens, Ronald McDonald Houses, churches, and other nonprofits are great places where kids and teens can volunteer in New Jersey. Many probably have existing community service projects or upcoming events where they need help. It never hurts to ask organizations you’re already supporting what volunteer opportunities they have.

The Word volunteer on a bulletin board background

Easy Volunteer Ideas for Kids, Teens, & Families that really make a difference

Here are a few ideas for volunteer roles that can be done by kids and teenagers. They are a great starting point if your child or teen is just getting into volunteering or an organization is still new to working with volunteers. They may be easier volunteer jobs but that doesn’t mean they aren’t rewarding.

Easy Volunteer Ideas for Kids Ages 5 and older

  • Feed the Volunteers: Volunteers too young to work on large projects, like Habitat for Humanity, can fill a critical role—by setting up and cleaning up the daytime meal for other hard-working volunteer laborers.
Bergen Volunteer Center Easy Volunteer Ideas for teens
Teens volunteering with the Bergen Volunteer Center. |Photo Credit Bergen Volunteer Center

Easy Volunteer Ideas for Tweens and Teens that really make a difference

  • Social Media Helper: Computer users who are older, disabled, or otherwise isolated can discover a new world by connecting with relatives, friends and like-minded contacts using social media. Young, tech-savvy volunteers can teach or answer questions from beginning users.
three generations packing food for foodbank
  • Pantry Helper—Community and church food pantries are often understaffed. Deliveries can be unpredictable; for instance, a large shipment, which might include perishables, might arrive with little or no notice. Workers are needed to arrange and organize pantry items so clients can easily obtain what they need, and waste is minimized.

Below we give you some places that regularly have opportunities where families can volunteer together. Some may allow your child to volunteer on their own. We share volunteer opportunities for kids and teens in North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. We’ve even discovered volunteer projects families can do from the comfort of their own home.

The Most Rewarding Places Kids, Teens, & Families Can Volunteer in New Jersey

Places Kids Can Volunteer in North Jersey

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Union County, NJ

Community Food Bank of New Jersey – Hillside

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey welcomes volunteers ages 12 and older, by appointment. Volunteers are needed to sort and pack food for distribution, assist with mailings, and collect food and turkeys for food drives. Family days for ages 6-11 are also posted when available. Learn more at their website. Older teens can help distribute food at mobile food pantries or the Food Bank and work tables at special events.

Community-Foodbank-of-New-Jersey-truck
Older kids and teens can volunteer with the adults in their family at the Community Foodbank of New Jersey.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Warren County, NJ

Common Sense for Animals-Broadway, New Jersey

There are so many ways to volunteer at Common Sense for Animals in Warren County. From cleaning cages to helping with mailers volunteers young and old can help to promote adoption of animals. Volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Learn more at their website.

Places Kids Can Volunteer in Central New Jersey

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Hunterdon County, NJ

United Way of Hunterdon-Hunterdon County, New Jersey

If you are looking for a great way to get involved with family and the community, Amy at the Hunterdon County United Way can direct you in the way your family fits best. The United Way helps individuals and families all over the county. There are many activities including Day of Caring, Tools 4 School and Holiday Hands that need volunteers. Learn more at their website.

A heart with volunteer related words on the inside of the heart

The Salvation Army – Flemington, NJ

Families can volunteer through any number of activities including a weekly soup kitchen. Check out their website for something that works best for your family. Learn more at their website.

Kids volunteering with American Foundation For Suicide Prevention in New Jersey
Sara shared this picture and says, “I am a part of my county chapter for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, my girls have been volunteering along with me at our annual Out of the Darkness Community walk for the past 3 years.”

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Middlesex County, NJ

Elijah’s Promise – New Brunswick, NJ

Elijah’s Promise operates a community soup kitchen, and pay-as-you-go café and connects low-income families to health and social services. Volunteers are needed to help prep food in the kitchen and café, sort and distribute clothes, wash dishes, and several other opportunities. Age requirements vary based on the activity but 12-17 year old volunteers require adult supervision. Learn more at their website.

Ronald McDonald House of New Jersey – New Brunswick, NJ

Caring Cooks volunteer by cooking a meal in a spacious kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Volunteer groups can be families, a responsible group of older teens, or another group. They plan the menu, purchase the food, cook and serve the meal, and clean the kitchen afterwards. To schedule a meal for the New Brunswick House, call House Manager, Jessie at 732-249-1222 ext 6000.

Our menu from when we volunteered to cook up a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Our menu from when we cooked up a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Monmouth County, NJ

Second Life Bikes – Asbury Park, NJ

Second Life Bikes goal is to provide youth with positive opportunities and recreational activities through bicycling. Second Life Bikes repurposes old bikes and uses them for their youth programs. Volunteers at Second Life Bikes work in the shop or help organize youth programs. Learn more at their website.

Fulfill NJ- Neptune, NJ

The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties welcomes volunteers age 13 and up. Hours are Monday- Friday 9 am to 5 pm but additional hours may be available. Learn more at their website.

Young girls pack NJ food drive donations into a brown bag

Ronald McDonald House of New Jersey – Long Branch, NJ

Caring Cooks volunteer by cooking a meal in a spacious kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch, New Jersey. Volunteer groups can be families, a responsible group of older teens, or another group. They plan the menu, purchase the food, cook and serve the meal, and clean the kitchen afterwards. To schedule a meal for the Long Branch House, call House Manager, Kelly at 732-222-8755 ext 5000.

goya ronald mcdonald house
Dinner is ready and waiting for Ronald McDonald House guests.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Somerset County, NJ

St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter-North Branch, New Jersey

You must be at least 18 years of age before you can work directly with the animals. Junior volunteers ages 16 and 17 may volunteer in all non-animal handling roles. This includes greeting, cleaning, special events and administrative duties. Learn more at their website.

kid picking up trash at beach clean up
Picking up trash along the beach with Clean Ocean Action. Photo Credit Brian Weber

Places Kids Can Volunteer in South Jersey

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Atlantic County, NJ

Community Food Bank of New Jersey – Egg Harbor Township

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey welcomes volunteers ages 12 and older, by appointment. Volunteers are needed to sort and pack food for distribution, assist with mailings, and collect food and turkeys for food drives. Older teens can help distribute food at mobile food pantries or the Food Bank and work tables at special events. Learn more at their website.

Volunteering as a family with the Community Foodbank of New Jersey

The Rustic Rahl – Egg Harbor Township

Details coming soon or visit their website to learn more.

Funny Farm Animal Rescue – Mays Landing

Funny Farm Rescue started recruiting publicly for families to volunteer in June 2021. On their Facebook page they shared, “We would love for you to volunteer! Bring your family and friends, and anyone who wants to help take care of the animals. You can be any age but if you are under 15, an adult needs to stay with you.”

Volunteers can come any day of the week. Two shifts are available: 10 am – 12 Noon or 1 pm-3 pm or both shifts if you prefer.

Advanced reservations or signing up is not required. Volunteers are encouraged to just arrive. The only thing you need to do is fill out this waiver before you come if you haven’t already.

Funny Farm Animal Rescue needs volunteer waterers, feeders, and pooper scoopers. This means watering and feeding the animals and cleaning up so wear practical shoes and clothes that can get dirty. They want you to have fun and know that volunteers don’t have to do all 3 jobs. They can choose.

canned goods are being packed into a box at a NJ food pantry

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Camden County, NJ

Food Bank of South Jersey – Pennsauken, NJ

The Food Bank of South Jersey welcomes volunteers ages 13 and older. 13-15 year olds need to be accompanied by an adult. Volunteering is done by appointment only and volunteers must attend mandatory training. Learn more at their website.

Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey – Camden, NJ

There are two ways to volunteer as a family at the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey. First, you can sign up to cook a meal for the families staying at a Ronald McDonald House. Meal group volunteers provide a home-cooked dinner or breakfast cooked in the impressive Ronald McDonald House Kitchen. Family members ages 12 years old and older are able to help as meal cook volunteers. Learn more about being a meal volunteer.

Butterfly crafts as part of being activity volunteers at Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey
We made butterfly crafts on a recent volunteering visit to the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey

If cooking for a large group isn’t your thing or your kids are younger, sign up as activity volunteers. A few times a month the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey welcomes families or small groups to lead an activity for the house guests. Children ages 8 years old and up can volunteer in this capacity. From 6:30 -7:30 pm activity volunteers provide a craft, participate in games, or lead other activities to engage with house guests. Pick a night for your family from their volunteer signup sheet.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Gloucester County, NJ

Angel of God Clothing Closet – Pitman, NJ

Angel of God Clothing Closet welcomes kids of all ages (accompanied by a parent) as volunteers. Volunteers will help sort, wash and organize donated clothing. Volunteer forms are available on the Angel of God website. Learn more at their website.

A NJ volunteer sorts clothing from a clothing drive

Community Service projects kids and teens can do from home

Let’s face it, sometimes in our busy schedules, it’s hard to go and volunteer but if doing for others is still in your heart. There are ways your family can give back through community service from the comfort of their very own home.

Kids round up items for donation boxes

All of the organizations listed above are looking for volunteers and donations not just during the holiday season but year-round. If your child is not old enough to volunteer then they can help give back by collecting clothes, food, or toiletries for donation, coloring, or trying one of the projects listed below.

Color A Smile based in Morristown, New Jersey

Join thousands as you color a picture and entice a smile from the elderly, military personnel or anyone in need of a pick me up. Simply coloring a picture and sending it to Color A Smile children can make others feel that they are loved. Check out the Color A Smile website for more information or on how to send a subscription of smiles to someone in need. Learn more at their website.

Thank A Soldier

Send care packages to our military troops

Deployed troops love to receive mail! From drawing a picture to hand-writing letters to putting together SOS boxes that include (approved) items like gum and books, families and children of any age can contribute to the morale of those protecting our nation, a great family service project to honor a beloved veteran on his anniversary.

Table of supplies from Bergen Volunteer Center
|Photo Credit Bergen Volunteer Center

Create tray favors

Recipients of programs like Meals on Wheels, or nursing home residents, are typically shut-ins who enjoy cheery little surprises that are sometimes included with their meal trays. These treats can be anything from seasonal cards, homemade cookies, or bright crafts.

Make sandwiches

Some churches ask for sandwiches monthly and the Driscoll family makes it a get together for their daughter and her friends.

Joanna’s girls making sandwiches to feed families in Brigantine, who are back home, and cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy. |Photo Credit Joanna Driscoll

More ways kids can volunteer in New Jersey

  • Go to your local senior center or assisted living community do arts & crafts, play a board game, or read with the residents.
  • Organize a neighborhood or community clean-up day.
  • Have a lemonade or bake sale and donate profits to a local charity.
  • Visit a children’s hospital and read a story or put together an activity box for patients.
Boy holds lemonade and bake sale to raise money for charity

Where else can you find ways your kids and teen can volunteer in New Jersey?

Bergen Volunteer Center

You may have an agency like the Bergen Volunteer Center in your county. The Bergen Volunteer Center matches prospective volunteers with agencies that need help in and around Bergen County, NJ. Volunteers can go to its website, bergenvolunteers.org, to search its extensive database of volunteer opportunities filtered by volunteer age, location, date, and more.

girls volunteer at a park clean up in New Jersey

Jersey Cares

Jersey Cares recruits and engages volunteers in rewarding, effective efforts that address community-identified needs. They partner with local nonprofits to identify needs and implement volunteer projects to meet these needs. Using their database your family can search through a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that range from tutoring children to painting new murals in schools.

teens and kids volunteer to plant a garden in New Jersey

More resources for volunteer opportunities

Do you know a place kids can volunteer in New Jersey? Let us know so we can add it to our list.

children pack fruit and canned goods from a food drive

Giving back is a great way to give thanks and is a great lesson to teach kids this holiday season. You can read about other family community service projects in our Make a Difference series.

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Cherish Frierson c/o Myra Grzebyk

Monday 6th of September 2021

My name is Cherish. I am 12 years old. I want to help and want to find a volunteer job for after school.

Jennifer Auer

Monday 6th of September 2021

That's great that you want to volunteer. Reach out to the organizations directly and they can provide you with more information to get started. - Jenn

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