Alaska Life

Holiday season got you in a volunteering mood? Here are places that could use help.

Looking for a way to volunteer on Thanksgiving day? You might want to look a little further out in the holiday season.

Most of Anchorage's major social service providers say they have enough volunteers to get them through this Thursday. Bean's Cafe already has over 100 people signed up to help feed people on Thanksgiving Day, according to Executive Director Lisa Sauder.

But that doesn't mean organizations aren't in need of help. Here's a short list of volunteer opportunities around Anchorage through the holidays and the rest of the year.

Catholic Social Services

The social nonprofit is gearing up for its "Helping Holidays" campaign, where families in need supply wish lists for people who want to donate.

Catholic Social Services is also accepting gifts for guests and participants at Brother Francis Shelter and Clare House, an emergency shelter for women with children and expectant mothers.

Communications Manager Russ Slaten said gifts will be accepted through Dec. 19. Volunteers are needed to wrap the gifts between Dec. 20-23. People who want to volunteer or donate gifts can find more information online at


Salvation Army

There's a "severe lack" of bell ringers this holiday season, according to Alaska Salvation Army Communications Manager Thomas Brown. The bell ringers have already been out for two weeks and will continue through the holiday season, but more are needed to man the red kettles around town, which serve as a major fundraiser for the social agency during the holiday season.

Brown said the Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers for Neighborhood Gift, a two-day event at the Sullivan Arena where the Salvation Army partners with other social service agencies to distribute a holiday meal and family gifts. Volunteers can sign up online at and learn how about to donate presents. Unwrapped toys are also collected at various "Angel Tree" locations. You can see a list of trees online or call 907-375-3583.

Bean's Cafe

While Bean's Cafe has enough manpower for the Thanksgiving holiday, it always needs donations. Ham, yams, store-bought pies, rolls, coffee and toilet paper are in high demand right now, according to Sauder, and can be dropped off at the cafe anytime.

Sauder said the organization, which also runs the Children's Lunchbox, is in need of volunteers "every day of the year." She said that goes beyond just meal prep and serving — they also need help with everything from office work to special events.

To volunteer, go to the Bean's Cafe website and click on "volunteer" to sign up.

Food Bank of Alaska

Over Saturday and Monday the Food Bank of Alaska hosted Thanksgiving Blessing, which distributed hundreds of meals across Mat-Su and Anchorage. The Food Bank also participates in the Neighborhood Gift event and is in charge of providing the food.

But the Food Bank needs volunteers year-round, for everything from packing bags of food to delivering meals.

Those interested in volunteering can find more information at or sign up for the Food Bank's volunteer newsletter.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.