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Make a Difference in Dallas County in December

Around this time every year, moms across the nation, as they’re wrapping their 200th gift, wonder: “Is my kid spoiled?” Help your kids appreciate all they have by encouraging them to help the less fortunate. Read on to learn about charities around Dallas County where your kids—and you!—can lend a helping hand.

Operation Kindness

Ages welcome: Children ages 6 and older; children ages 6-16 must be accompanied by a parent
Contact: 3201 Earhart Drive, Carrollton 972/418-7297

If you’ve got a little animal lover, check out North Texas’ oldest and largest no-kill shelter, located in Carrollton. Volunteers may walk dogs, clean out cages, help with administrative tasks and more. All volunteers are required to attend an orientation session and complete six hours of volunteer time per month or six events per year. The hours for volunteering are 7am-8pm Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 7am-6pm Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year.

Second Chance Café at The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center

Ages welcome: 12 and older; children ages 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older
Contact: 1818 Corsicana St., Dallas 214/746-2785

The city’s new homeless shelter, The Bridge, in partnership with health and human services provider The Stewpot, feeds three meals to more than 700 hungry people each day. Volunteers help serve food and pour drinks for customers. Helpers are asked to arrive 30 minutes before mealtime for orientation and preparation and may volunteer for a single meal service or for numerous meals. Online volunteer signup is available.

Trinity River Audubon Center

Ages welcome: 11 and older; youth must have an adult supervisor
Contact: 6500 S. Loop 12, Dallas  214/309-5850

Grab some work gloves and volunteer in the great outdoors through the Trinity River Audubon Center’s Prairie and Wetlands Restoration program. Volunteers will help restore prairie and wetland habitats, clear and expand existing trails and more. Work sessions are scheduled in four-hour shifts and must be scheduled in advance.

SoupMobile

Ages welcome: 12 and older; ages 12-21 must be accompanied by an adult
Contact: 3017 Commerce St., Dallas 800/375-5022

Help Dallas’ homeless population by working in SoupMobile’s warehouse or food-preparation areas. You’ll help make sandwiches and trail mix and bag chips and desserts. Volunteers must have a volunteer form on file with SoupMobile (can be filled out online).

The North Texas Food Bank

Ages welcome: 10 and older; ages 10-14 must be accompanied by an adult
Contact: 4500 S. Cockrell Hill Road, Dallas 214/331-4104

Make a difference in the lives of hungry families by donating time with the food bank. The North Texas Food Bank, founded in 1982, helps provide food to more than 53,000 North Texas families each month. Volunteer hours are available weekdays or weekends, and volunteers are asked to call and make a reservation in advance. You’ll help sort incoming food donations or sort and box donated items. Children ages 10-14 are required to have one adult for every five to seven children.

Community Partners of Dallas

Ages welcome: Ages 4 and older; children should be accompanied by an adult
Contact: 1215 Skiles St., Dallas 214/624-7585

Kids are invited to join their parents and help with this popular holiday toy drive. Volunteers will help catalog donations, sort gifts and more. Dress comfortably (in layers—the warehouse gets cold) with closed-toe shoes. Call ahead to schedule a volunteer time; families with young children will be given a shorter shift.

SPCA of Texas

Ages welcome: 12 and older; children ages 12-17 must be accompanied by a parent who is also volunteering
Contact: 8411 Stacy Road, McKinney. 214/742-7722

If you’ve got a little animal lover, try SPCA of Texas’ volunteer program. Volunteers start with an orientation and must then complete 20 hours of volunteer work within the following three months. Volunteers start out helping with basic shelter jobs but don’t get to interact with the animals until they’ve completed the 20-hour time commitment. The SPCA’s volunteer program includes many different opportunities, including helping to train animals, providing foster homes and more.

CITY House

Ages welcome: Any age; however, in order to be sensitive toward the population CITY House serves, children younger than 18 must limit their volunteer efforts to off-site activities
Contact: 1947 Ave. K, Plano. 972/424-4626

CITY House provides emergency shelter, counseling and more to children ages birth to 17 and their families. It’s newest initiative, My Friend’s House, provides shelter, food, clothing and medical care to children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Lisa Rodgers, CITY House’s director of volunteer services, says while children are not able to volunteer onsite, there are ways they can help. Children are encouraged to donate their unused toys, have a lemonade stand with proceeds going to CITY House or host a birthday party and collect gifts for the shelter’s young residents.

Meals on Wheels

Ages welcome: All ages with an adult present; adults must go through a one-hour training session
Contact: 600 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. 972/562-6996

Help Collin County’s homebound senior citizens by delivering nutritious meals made at the Meals on Wheels headquarters in McKinney. Parents must attend a one-hour training session and provide information for a background check, as well as a current driver’s license and proof of auto insurance (you will use your car for delivery). Kids may ride along with parents or guardians; meal delivery is from 11am-1pm daily (perfect for winter break!).

This article was first published in the December 2009 issue of DallasChild; it was updated in September 2015. ©ISTOCK