With Giving Tuesday right around the corner, you and your loved ones may be looking for a way to give back to your community and its people, whether it be through donations of your time, funds, or goods like food and clothing. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made navigating volunteerism more difficult than in recent years, there are many local organizations that are still ready and willing to work with you to make the most of your generosity.

If you’re looking for a way to give back this holiday season, think about the communities and issues that matter most to you and then do some research to find the organization that’s right for you. However, if you’re open to suggestions for where to spend your time or dollars to help make a difference, here are a few recommendations:

Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh

Animal lovers wanted! The Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh is a non-profit organization that works tirelessly to support animals, pet owners, and the community, and they always appreciate some helping hands to support their mission of caring for animals and inspiring communities. Looking to volunteer in person? Check out their website to learn how you can help at their shelters, their Wildlife Rehabilitation Center or as a pet foster parent.

Monetary donations can be given to a general fund or assigned to specific funds, such as aiding injured wildlife, emergency medical services, daily care to homeless pets, or simply where it’s needed most. Donations of food and pet supplies are also appreciated and can either be dropped off at HARP locations or purchased through the organization’s Amazon wish list.

Literacy Pittsburgh

Each year, Literacy Pittsburgh offers free educational programming and tutoring to more than 5,000 people in Allegheny County and Beaver County to help improve their literacy skills in a range of topics, including reading, English, math, and workplace skills. However, their average waitlist for students waiting to be connected with a volunteer tutor is more than 200!

By volunteering as a tutor, you’ll spend several hours per week for at least six months with your student (virtually!) to help them practice their skills and grow their confidence. Monetary donations, which help to support Literacy Pittsburgh’s invaluable programming, are also appreciated.

Tree Pittsburgh

Looking to get your hands dirty? Tree Pittsburgh is always looking for volunteers who can help further their mission of restoring and protecting the urban forest by caring for young trees, sowing seeds, or weeding. Visit the Tree Pittsburgh website to stay up-to-date on upcoming volunteer events that are open to volunteers, or consider rounding up your friends or coworkers for a group volunteer day.

Those who are especially dedicated to the cause can become Tree Tenders, which will give you the opportunity to participate in pruning workshops, work closely with certified arborists and even organize your own tree care events in your community!

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

More than 5,000 volunteers worked with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank last year, but the need for helping hands and donated goods has only grown since then. Its mission is to ensure that “anyone who needs a healthy meal can get one,” and for over 30 years, it has supported community members in need and worked to end hunger in our region.

Donors can help support the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank by making a one-time or monthly donation to help purchase nutritious meals for our Pittsburgh neighbors. Additional opportunities like fundraising, tribute giving, and even food donations are appreciated as well, and volunteers (individual or group!) can participate in inspecting, sorting, packaging, distributing, delivering, and even gleaning food for the community.

Free Store 15104

Founded by current Second Lady of Pennsylvania Gisele Fetterman in 2012, Free Store 15104 began with the mission to serve the people of Braddock, which has faced a particularly difficult struggle with population loss and economic challenges. By redistributing goods like surplus food and gently-used clothing to community members, Free Store 15104 helps to both counteract excessive waste and reinvest in Braddock’s citizens.

Free Store 15104 accepts “most everything else that is in new or gently used condition (and in season),” but especially seeks donations of household items and childcare items like formula and diapers. Of course, monetary donations are also very helpful. Volunteers can also reach out to Free Store 15104 to offer their time working in the physical store on Braddock Avenue.

SisTers PGH

SisTers PGH is a Black- and trans-led non-profit organization serving Pittsburgh’s Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, People of Color (QTBIPOC) community. In addition to its community center that offers clothing, toiletries, food, and computer access, SisTers PGH runs a series of programs that support trans and gender nonconforming folks across the region. (They also host People’s Pride PGH!)

Donations can be made on a one-time, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to help fund SisTers PGH’s missions and community center, and the organization is also seeking volunteers for opportunities with significant impact, including event and action coordination, fundraising, and even its advisory board.

The Center for Women

The Center for Women, overseen by the National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh, “support[s] every woman to discover the confidence, information, and skills she needs to obtain, increase, and better manage her financial life.” In recent months, the Center for Women has offered virtual education, networking and support-based programs to women across the region, and additional voices and perspectives help further their mission significantly.

Volunteers can connect with the Center for Women to find ways to join networking groups and educational programs for working mothers and help support childcare advocacy efforts, or donors can contribute funds to help further the reach and capacity of the Center for Women’s programming.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Kaidia Pickels

Kaidia is a native Pittsburgher and a content writer for a local marketing agency. She loves to travel, try new dishes at local restaurants, and drop in to fitness class throughout the city. She's a die-hard Pens fan as well as an amateur baker and mixologist — sometimes combining both in one recipe!

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