Your Bay Area Guide to Holiday Volunteering and Donations

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Donate to one of the food drives this holiday. (Courtesy of the SF-Marin Food Bank)

This post was originally published Nov. 16, 2015 and was updated October 31, 2019.

It's that time of year when we give thanks by donating our time, money and goods to local charities. It's also the time of year when most nonprofit organizations receive the majority of financial contributions and requests from volunteers. That's great, but the problem is that it can overwhelm popular charities; Glide often fills up its holiday volunteer spots within days of opening them up.

We've compiled a list of organizations all over the Bay Area that will be helping to feed the hungry over the holidays -- and throughout the year. Refer to this guide if you'd like to support these charities for upcoming events or even after the holidays are over. HandsOn Bay Area also has a fairly comprehensive volunteer calendar of organizations that could use your help. (If we missed your favorite nonprofit organization, please add it in the comments.)

Volunteers help distribute food to participants at one of the SF-Marin Food Bank’s pantries
Volunteers help distribute food to participants at one of the SF-Marin Food Bank’s pantries. (Courtesy of the SF-Marin Food Bank)

San Francisco

SF-Marin Food Bank
Facebook: SF-Marin Food Bank
Twitter: @SFMFoodBank

The Marin and San Francisco Food Banks merged a few years ago to become the SF-Marin Food Bank, which serves up enough food for 107,000 meals every day. During this time of year, they collect nearly half of their year's operating budget through donations. They also gather thousands of pounds of non-perishable food during this time.


You can drop off food donations at any of the locations listed at the bottom of this page in San Francisco or Marin.

Sign up to volunteer on their website either in Marin, San Francisco, or with the CalFresh team. There are also a number of special events and promotions currently underway.

St. Anthony Foundation
Facebook: St. Anthony Foundation
Twitter: @stanthonysf

The St. Anthony dining room serves up 3,000 meals every day of the year. It also provides a number of programs, including medical assistance and a food pantry for the homeless and low-income families.

Food can be dropped off during the weekday. There are also a number of ongoing donations needed.


Volunteer positions are available in the dining room, free clothing program, and other parts of the organization. There are holiday-specific volunteer shifts available, as well as post-holiday shifts.

Glide Memorial Church
Facebook: Glide Memorial Church
Twitter: @glidesf

Glide's mission is to welcome everyone into their community and help those in need, whomever they may be. That happens through a number of programs, one of the biggest of which is a daily meal program that serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner (as well as special holiday meals).

See what donations are needed on their website.

Serve up meals by volunteering with the daily free meal program, though spots often fill up around the holiday season. (Cantonese and Spanish speakers are especially needed.)

Curry without Worry
Facebook: Curry Without Worry
Twitter: @CurryWoW

Curry without Worry started in 2006 to serve up hot meals to hungry people. Today, it serves tasty vegan meals every Tuesday in both San Francisco and Kathmandu.

Donations can be made online.

Weekly shifts are available to help prepare meals, serve them, and clean up. Sign up online. Curry without Worry is also looking for volunteers with specific organizational skills.

Food Runners
Facebook: Food Runner SF
Twitter: @FoodRunnersSF

There's often tons of leftover food after the holidays. Fortunately, it doesn't need to go to waste. Food Runners picks up excess food from businesses and delivers over 15 tons of food each week to local food banks and charity programs.

If you're a business, you can donate excess food with their online form or app. Monetary donations are also accepted.

To pick up and deliver all that food requires volunteers. Become a regular or an on-call runner.

Curry without Worry serves hot meals to the hungry.
Curry without Worry serves hot meals to the hungry. (Courtesy of Curry without Worry)

East Bay

Alameda County Community Food Bank
Facebook: Alameda County Community Food Bank
Twitter: @ACCFB

The food bank provides food for over 240 agencies around the East Bay through its distribution network. It also operates an emergency food hotline, CalFresh outreach, and educational programs.

Check their website to find food drop off location. There are also a number of food drives happening right now. Or donate to the food bank's virtual food drive.

Check on their website for volunteer opportunities.

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
Facebook: Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
Twitter: @foodbankccs

The food bank delivers food both directly to people in need and to partner nonprofit agencies which help distribute the donations.

Food donations can be accepted at both the Concord and Fairfield warehouses, which are particularly looking for fresh fruits and vegetables. Or use their interactive map to find a local community food drive. You can also donate online or start a Buy a Bag fundraiser.

Visit their website to find volunteer opportunities based on needs and location.

Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa County
Twitter: @loavesfishescc

Loaves and Fishes provides meals to the hungry of Contra Costa County. They have five dining rooms that operate daily for lunch during the week, as well as a couple of partner meal services.

Check online for needed donations.

People are needed to serve food, prepare it, pick it up, and oversee projects. Check their website for information on how to volunteer Monday through Friday.

North Bay

St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County
Facebook: St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County
Twitter: @vinniesmarin

Although St. Vincent's is an international Catholic charity organization, the Marin chapter is independent; all donations to Marin stay in Marin. The chapter provides a number of programs to help those in need, such as a free dining room that serves daily meals. They also offer housing assistance that includes operating affordable low-income apartments.

You can donate online or you can drop off donations at the San Rafael location, including food to be used at the kitchen. Check online for donation needs. You can also sponsor a person in need.

People are needed every day to prepare food, serve food, organize the pantry, and clean up after meals. Check online for a list of the different jobs and to apply to be a volunteer.

Community Action of Napa Valley
Facebook: Community Action of Napa Valley

Among its many programs, Community Action of Napa Valley operates a food bank for the region. It provides seven pantry locations, as well as runs distribution programs to seniors and low-income Napa residents.

Donate online via their website.

Contact the food bank director to volunteer to pick-up food, help sort, or work in the pantry. You can also contact the other programs' directors directly to volunteer for those programs.

Redwood Empire Food Bank
Facebook: Redwood Empire Food Bank
Twitter: @refb

The Redwood Empire Food Bank distributes nearly 15 million pounds of food to Sonoma County residents annually through its pantry, emergency food program, and grocery boxes to seniors and meals for kids.

In addition to online donations, the Redwood Empire Food Bank has a number of drop-off locations to donate food.

Sign up online to help with food sorting and packing.

South Bay

Second Harvest of Santa Clara and San Mateo
Facebook: Second Harvest Food Bank
Twitter: @2ndharvest

Since 1974, Second Harvest has been distributing food to low-income residents of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. It now hands out 1 million pounds of food every week, half of which is fresh produce.

You can also use their online tool to find local food drives near you. Or donate food directly at one of their three centers or multiple drop off locations.

Check online for volunteer opportunities.

Martha's Kitchen
Facebook: Martha's Kitchen
Twitter: @KitchenMarthas

Started as a little soup kitchen in 1981, San Jose's Martha's Kitchen now serves 25,000 meals every week. In addition to serving meals, Martha's Kitchen also prepares meals for other nonprofit organizations and distributes food.

Donate online.

Volunteers are needed in the kitchen program.