Ideas for Holiday Volunteering and Giving in Des Moines

holiday giving in Des Moines
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Now is the time to start thinking about holiday giving. This year brought tighter budgets to many as prices of gas, groceries, and everything in between increased significantly. These daily expenses will definitely bring challenges for many during the holidays.

Whether you have extra time or resources to give or need a little help, here are some of the programs you can partner with. Give back and volunteer in Des Moines this holiday season.

Learn about opportunities for holiday giving in Des Moines for your family to participate in. 

Whether you have extra time or resources to give or need a little help, here are some of the programs you can partner with. Give back and volunteer in Des Moines this holiday season.

Holiday Giving (and Receiving) in Des Moines

Anawim Housing: Home is Everything

For more than 20 years, Anawim Housing has met the needs of Polk County’s most vulnerable citizens through Permanent Supportive Housing programs. Today, more than 220 units are leased across the county making them the largest provider of permanent supportive housing in Iowa. You can make a financial gift directly to Anawim Housing here. Check their Facebook page for more opportunities to get involved during the holidays. 

Orchard Place Holiday Drive

Sign up to shop for a child or children. Sponsoring a child consists of purchasing 3 items from their wish list and then wrapping and delivering them to the Orchard Place Branch. Don’t want to do the shopping, but want to help? Make a monetary donation and they’ll go shopping! Learn more here.

West Des Moines Human Services Holiday Assistance

Bring joy to families this holiday season. There are many options including adopting a family, purchasing grocery gift cards, or making a monetary donation. Learn more here.  


EveryStep is the name behind services like HCI Hospice Care Services, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Amanda the Panda, and more than 30 programs and services with a shared mission. Each year, hundreds of people help them spread holiday cheer with their Cheer Box program. If you would like to help wrap boxes or deliver boxes this November, sign up by contacting Megan at [email protected]

EveryStep has a great list of resources if you are in need of a helping hand this holiday season. See their complete list of where to apply for assistance with holiday meals, toys and gifts, and other winter assistance programs here

Children & Families of Iowa

Children & Families of Iowa (CFI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families throughout Iowa. CFI provides services, such as domestic violence prevention and intervention, teen programs, family support, early childhood development, mental health, and substance abuse. During the holiday season, CFI hosts Adopt A Family programs, a Holiday Shop, and Toy Drives. Check out all of the detail here, as well as learn how you can volunteer your time!

Children’s Cancer Connection: Winter Wishes

Children’s Cancer Connection has been serving families affected by childhood cancer for over 30 years. They serve the entire family throughout their entire journey. All of their programs are focused on encouraging relationships and strengthening community. You have the option of sending gift cards OR shopping and wrapping gifts for the holidays. 

Central Iowa Shelter & Services

Central Iowa Shelter & Services is committed to providing low-barrier shelter*, meals, and support services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness, while also facilitating their move towards self-sufficiency.

They have many areas of need; find out how you can help here.

Hope Ministries

Help deliver thousands of meals around the Des Moines area to individuals and families in need. Spots are filling quickly, but there are plenty of opportunities to help for Christmas. Learn more here

Toys for Tots Registration

Des Moines Parks and Recreation is partnering with the U.S. Marine Corps this holiday season. Ensure your children have a holiday they’ll never forget by signing up for Toys for Tots. Toys are available for children 14 and under only. Learn more here. Registration open November 1 – November 30.

Toys for Tots Toy Drive, Outlets of Des Moines

Help bring the joy of Christmas to less fortunate children through the donation of new, unwrapped toys. A collection box will be in the Outlets of Des Moines Food Pavilion near Customer Service, November 17 through December 17.

Star 102.5’s Combat Hunger 2023 

Support the Food Bank of Iowa and raise money to provide meals to feed hungry families in Iowa. More details here

Iowa Homeless Youth Center

Adopt a youth/family, provide a care package, donate a meal, or volunteer. Help spread joy for over 170 homeless and at-risk youth in Des Moines. Visit for more details.

Single Parent Provision

Single Parent Provision is hosting its 10th annual Single Parent Moms Christmas Dinner on December 9 as a way to say, “We see you!”.

Tickets are $15 per individual (mother only) or $25 per family (mother and children). Scholarships are gladly provided and easily requested by simply emailing [email protected] to receive a discount code.

Registration closes Friday, December 2. 

Holiday Helping Hands with Urbandale Community Action Network

The Urbandale Community Action Network (UCAN) is a 501(c)3 citizen group providing leadership and ongoing support for comprehensive community-based action to improve the quality of life in Urbandale. UCAN works collaboratively with local government, churches, civic, and community organizations, not for profits, citizens, and the business community to accomplish common goals and to help make a difference in the lives of Urbandale residents.

UCAN Holiday Helping Hands Programs include Thanksgiving Needs Baskets, Adopt-A-Family, Santa for Seniors, Christmas Food Assistance, and At-Risk Teen Outreach. To sign up to help please contact UCAN at [email protected] or call 515-278-3936.

// RELATED CONTENT: Check out more Holiday activities and events happening in Des Moines  //

United Way of Central Iowa

United Way of Central Iowa is United to Thrive. They are committed to bringing together donors, volunteers, advocates, nonprofits, leaders, and more to take on central Iowa’s toughest challenges. They have created an online Helping Hand Guide for volunteer opportunities around the Des Moines metro area this holiday season.

Animal Rescue Organizations

In addition to people helping people, the Des Moines metro area is fortunate to have several wonderful animal rescue organizations. They include AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & TransportAnimal Lifeline of Iowa, Animal Rescue League, Furry Friends Refuge, and Hope Animal Rescue. These organizations work year-round rescuing animals and giving them second chances. Most rescues host various supply drives and “adopt a shelter pet” programs during the holiday season. Often these donated supplies will help stock a rescue for months meaning more dollars to spend saving animals.

Did we miss your favorite holiday giving in Des Moines program? Tell us the details below!


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