Volunteer Opportunities for Families

There are plenty of ways for a family to spend quality time together, but donating that time to helping others creates a wonderful chance to encourage compassion and responsibility in all ages. Volunteer opportunities abound throughout the Bay Area, whether they be in warehouses, shelters or the great outdoors. Find out what causes members of your clan are interested in and you’ll be surprised by how many organizations in your area can use a helping hand.
East Bay
Arroyo Viejo Creek Crew.  If you have a family of nature lovers who are eager to get their hands dirty, join the Oakland Zoo’s Arroyo Viejo Creek Restoration Project. All ages are welcome from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. the third Saturday of each month (except June and December) to learn to garden while they help improve eroded stream habitat. Volunteers also get a lesson in edible plants and the area’s animal residents, as well as free parking and zoo admission that day. Come prepared with water, snacks, sunblock and close-toed shoes that can handle a bit of mud. One adult chaperone is required for every four youth volunteers. 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland. 510-632-9525, ext. 207. oaklandzoo.org/Arroyo_Viejo_Creek_Crew.php.
Marin County Parks. Community Volunteer Days involve the public in habitat restoration, trail improvements and maintenance with various projects throughout Marin County all year. Some of these include work on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, removing French broom from Old St. Hilary’s Open Space Preserve and rehabilitating Aramburu Island. While many opportunities are available to participants of all ages and abilities, some have age and health requirements. Call or check online for further information; registration is often required. Contact volunteer coordinators at 415-473-2823 or 415-473-3778. marincountyparks.org/depts/pk/programs/volunteer/community-volunteer-days.
Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA. Youth ages 13 and older can become junior volunteers to care for cats and dogs, wildlife and work in the kitten nursery or thrift store two hours a week for at least six months. Parent volunteers must accompany ages 13-15. Adults can assist with a variety of other tasks including adoptions, training, pet therapy, clerical services and more. Potential volunteers of every age must fill out an application and attend orientation. Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion, 1450 Rollins Road, Burlingame; and Coyote Point Shelter, 12 Airport Blvd., San Mateo. 650-340-7022, ext. 328. peninsulahumanesociety.org/volunteer/.
San Francisco
San Francisco and Marin Food Bank. San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. If you’d like to get your children into the habit early of helping those less fortunate, the SF-Marin Food Bank is a great place to start. Families with kids as young as 4 can take the whole crew to donate their time to projects such as sorting and packing food sent to pantries and soup kitchens. Middle-Schoolers and younger must each be accompanied by an adult. Schedule a shift from 9 a.m.-12 pm or 12:30-3:30 pm on Saturdays (ages 8 and older), 9-11am or 12:30-2:30 pm Sundays (ages 4 and older), and 9am-12p.m. or 12:30-3:30 p.m. on weekdays (ages 11 and older). 900 Pennsylvania Ave., San Francisco.  For more information, call 415-282-1900 ext 244.  http://www.sfmfoodbank.org/volunteer
Silicon Valley
Project We Hope. This nonprofit to help the homeless and underserved communities around Palo Alto offers chances to volunteer at one-time events such as client dinners and fundraisers, or on an ongoing basis one or two nights a week. Children are often welcome to serve alongside their parents but call or check each listing online for age limitations. Projects include preparing and delivering meals, assisting with a new mobile shower and trailer program for the homeless and more. 1854 Bay Road, East Palo Alto. 650-330-8000. projectwehope.org/volunteer-events/.
 Dhyana Levey is a calendar editor at Bay Area Parent, mother and volunteer.


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