Wish List: Where To Donate Your Time This Holiday Season

Charities need Santa's helpers this holiday season.

Lend out your pet. (Photo via Getty Images)

Lend out your pet. (Photo via Getty Images)

Unquestionably, most nonprofits prefer to receive cash. That said, many charities gladly accept in-kind donations, ranging from your old books to new suits, even your leftovers. The Observer polled some worthy organizations to find out their needs.

Say Yes to Virginia

Operation Santa Claus started in the 1920s when a number of postal clerks noticed a growing number of letters addressed to the North Pole from children and chipped in to buy gifts in response. Now more than 150,000 letters pour in yearly. In addition to keeping track of every address, Operation Santa Claus ensures that each letter results in a holiday gift. “Adopt” a letter and purchase one or many of the gifts, such as toys or warm clothing, from their handwritten wish lists. operationlettertosanta.com Phone: (888) 719-6710

Donate a Tome 

Despite the best of intentions, you are unlikely to re-read The Grapes of Wrath, so why not donate it (and other favorites, but not the dog-eared 50 Shades, O.K.?) to Literacy Partners? The organization, which teaches adults to read, accepts book donations—and even just book recommendations—via its website: literacypartners.org Phone: (212) 725-9200

Prepare a Care Package

Don’t fret if you bought too much for your holiday party, because City Harvest of New York will zip over to pick up your leftovers (provided you have at least 50 pounds of food to donate) and distribute the goodies to hungry families. Donations can be dropped off. Anyway, you’ll need the exercise. cityharvest.org Phone: (646) 412-0758

Clean Out Your Closet

Help an adult living on public assistance achieve “job-readiness” by donating your time, or your tie, to The HOPE Program. Founded in 1984, the nonprofit prepares participants—most working to finish high school or earn a GED—with the skills to obtain and a job, such as resume writing and interviewing skills. The organization is looking for donations of professional clothing for their students. Volunteers can also tutor HOPE students in their “Job Club” on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-noon. thehopeprogram.org Phone: (718) 852-9307

Brighten Lives

After Matthew Badger’s three young daughters died in a 2011 Christmas fire in Stamford, Conn., he co-founded LilySarahGrace to honor his girls’ passion for the arts. The nonprofit organization helps underfunded public elementary schools incorporate “arts-infused inquiry-based learning” into their curriculum. Mr. Badger’s charity encourages donors to give new art supplies, such as paint, paper, crayons and clay to schools in need. To learn more, email info@lsgfund.org or visit lilysarahgrace.org

Clown Around

No one likes getting shots or IVs, especially not children, and especially not during the holidays. To keep their fears at bay, New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Child Life team is seeking volunteers to participate in activities such as reading, games, and arts and crafts with the littlest patients. nyp.org Phone: (212) 342-8579

Lend Out Your Pet

Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital wants a few good dogs. You and Sparky can spread a little holiday cheer to patients by first completing a brief course from Pet Partners (petpartners.org) and then donating one hour a week to the hospital’s Pet Assisted Activities Program. Phone: (212) 420-2974

Wish List: Where To Donate Your Time This Holiday Season