40+ Places to Show Love and Fill Needs in Portland


Our house is not huge or fancy, but it is ours to call home. Inside, my family has food, water, heat, beds to sleep in, and safety. Our three kids are more than adequately fed, clothed, and entertained every day of their easy lives.

Our life is content. Full. We want for nothing, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say we live in excess. I cannot imagine what it must be like for those less fortunate during the day-to-day, much less this time of year when it is supposed to be the most joyous of all. Those of us who have plenty should be concerned about the needy all year long. We should want to donate or volunteer, but in actuality we so rarely think about them until the holidays.

Are they warm enough today? Have they had enough to eat? Are they safe? And what about tomorrow? And the next day, and the day after that? What about their children? Are they warm, fed and safe, too?

A group of people assemble food items for charityWhile we are out shopping for festive dinners and gifts, blasting the heat in our cars and homes, and absent-mindedly humming holiday tunes, here is a list of places and ideas to really spread some goodwill. Most of these places operate year-round, too! Volunteer your time, donate some needed staples, and perhaps we can show love and fill needs by providing a little warmth and joy to those who need it most.

Local Adopt-a-Family programs who provide food staples, gifts, and even Christmas trees and decorations to families who cannot afford a holiday celebration:

  1. Christmas Family Adoption Foundation
  2. Greater New Hope Family Services

Food pantries accepting volunteers and where you can donate canned goods and food staples they will use to make grocery boxes for needy families and individuals. Some of these also provide other living essentials for hygiene and warmth as well:

  1. Oregon Food Bank
  2. The Sunshine Division
  3. The Salvation Army
  4. Tualatin School House Pantry
  5. Lift Urban Portland
  6. NE Emergency Food Program
  7. Hereford House


Soup kitchens and shelters accepting volunteers and offer hot meals and/or a place to spend the night for the hungry and homeless. Many also offer housing assistance to help families find permanent shelter:

  1. Union Gospel Mission
  2. City Team Ministries
  3. Transition Projects
  4. Portland Rescue Mission
  5. Outside In
  6. PATH (formerly Portland Homeless Family Solutions)
  7. Clackamas Service Center
  8. Raphael House
  9. Our Just Future (formerly Human Solutions)

Toy and clothing drives/organizations and volunteers who gather donations and deliver needed items and special treats for local, needy children and families:

  1. Toys for Tots
  2. Gifts for Good (Doernbecher Children’s Hospital)
  3. Toy n Joy Makers
  4. Our Just Future (formerly Human Solutions)
  5. Mother & Child Education Center

Charity runs during the holiday season whose proceeds benefit worthy causes, and always looking for people to volunteers or donate:

  1. Reindeer Run 
  2. Ho Ho 5K 
  3. Holiday Half Marathon & 5K 
  4. PRC Winter 5K 
  5. Ugly Sweater Run/Walk

Other local, year-round places to donate or volunteer:

  1. Lutheran Community Services
  2. Impact NW
  3. Embrace Oregon
  4. Clackamas Service Center
  5. Hands on Portland
  6. Vincent de Paul
  7. Doernbecher Children’s Hospital
  8. Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel
  9. Ronald McDonald House
  10. SnoCap Charities
  11. Northwest Children’s Outreach
  12. Street Roots
  13. Store to Door

For looking to give straight donations to worthwhile causes, Willamette Week publishes their annual Give!Guide to help sort out your giving. It’s worth a visit to learn more about all of the wonderful organizations throughout the Portland metro area. Many area listed here, but there are dozens more!

Are there others not on this list that should be? What does your family do to volunteer or donate to the less fortunate during the holidays and the rest of the year?


  1. Thank you for including Street Roots in your list. Each time you purchase the newspaper from a vendor you are not only helping them financially but you are also helping them to maintain human connections. It can be easy to forget how important that can be for someone who is struggling.

Comments are closed.