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9 Ways To Help The Big Apple Shine

Photo by Kenny Louie (Flickr)

Photo by Kenny Louie (Flickr)

As the holiday season approaches, there is no better way to celebrate than serving others. I love the smells, weather, busy streets, parks, and entertainment bursting throughout New York City. There is something amazing about this magical place, but as I enjoy the countless activities, I often get the itch to give back. If you love New York City as much as I do and you want to show your appreciation through volunteer work, here are nine ways you can help the Big Apple shine.

Donate Items

There are always going to be people in the world who need a warm coat for the winter, boots for the rain, and clothes to wear daily. If your children have outgrown clothes or you have a closet filled with items you never wear, think about donating items to people in need. New York Cares is an organization that is always looking for volunteers or donations for their yearly coat drive.

Serve at a Food Bank

Helping at a food bank is something every citizen must experience at least once in their life. It always makes me appreciate what I do have and makes me realize what truly matters in life. If you volunteer once, it won’t be a single event; you will yearn for the opportunity to go back.

Plant Trees

New York City might be known for its massive skyscrapers, but if you look beyond the bricks and steel, you will still see plenty of green. Planting trees and flowers is just another way to help the Big Apple to continually look beautiful.

Enlighten People

One of my favorite things to do is read to children. I love watching their eyes light up with each turn of a page. NYC Service has countless volunteer opportunities that include everything from cleaning the streets to giving your time to another person. Spend a few hours with the elderly, share a talent, teach children, and tutor teens. There are plenty of ways to brighten people’s spirits, minds, and lives. You can find NYC Service on Facebook to get continual updates on volunteer opportunities and events.

Prevent Suicide

Suicide is a devastating tragedy that happens daily across the country. What better way to give then working to save lives? The Samaritans of New York have one single goal: to prevent suicide. Trained volunteers give a few hours a week to answer phone calls from those dealing with suicidal thoughts and depressed feelings.

Pick up Garbage

There are plenty of organizations based on cleaning New York City parks and streets, but you don’t have to be a part of a group to pick up garbage. On the way to work or as you jog through the park, make it a goal to pick up ten pieces of litter on every trip. It might not make an instant difference, but if everyone helped, there would be no more trash to reach for.

Volunteer at a Shelter

Choose to spend one day a month, or even just one day a year, working at a homeless shelter. There is always something to do between serving food, cleaning beds, and helping people feel comfortable and warm.

Clean up a Park

If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has several programs available. You can rake leaves, paint benches, weed gardens, and water the trees. Their goal is to make the parks safe, comfortable, visually appealing, and a place families, children, and individuals want to come.


Picking up the garbage in streets, gardens, and buildings will definitely help the city shine, but finding a place for the trash can be a tight squeeze. Recycling is the only answer to cut back on garbage, keep the city green, and save resources. There are plenty of things to do to help New York City look, feel, and be a better place, and it only takes a smidgen of our time.

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