Best of 2004: Holiday Volunteering

Here's a sampling of the many local organizations that offer volunteer opportunities to start off the holidays in the spirit of giving.

Bethesda Students Care, an organization at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School founded by senior Samuel Matthew McDonald, takes underprivileged children from the National Center for Children and Families, a Bethesda shelter, to K-B Toys to surprise them with presents and to All Fired Up, a decorate-your-own-ceramics store, to make gifts for their parents. The volunteer event takes place December 18. Call 301-652-4720.

Each December, Children's National Medical Center collects toys for children and teens at the hospital and for the playrooms in the outpatient clinics; on Christmas Eve, staffers deliver the gifts. Call 202-884-2062 or visit

Community Family Life Services holds an Adopt-a-Family program for residents in its transitional-housing program. Volunteers are matched with families to fulfill their holiday wish lists, usually for clothing and small gifts. Call 202-347-0511 ext. 415 or see

The Holiday Project of the National Capital Area organizes groups to visit nursing-home residents and hospital patients in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Call 703-370-0370 or register at

Martha's Table provides daily meals at its kitchen and through McKenna's Wagon, which delivers food to DC's homeless and hungry. The program needs hams, turkeys, and canned vegetables for holiday meals. Volunteers may donate meal baskets, prepare food in the kitchen (10 to noon or noon to 2 daily), or serve food from McKenna's Wagon (5 to 7 PM daily). Call 202-328-6608 or visit

More than 1,000 volunteers of all religious backgrounds come together on December 24 for the Washington, DC, Jewish Community Center's Community Service Day. In its 18th year, this event serves meals to the homeless and entertains seniors and children in communities throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. From December 1 through 20, the JCC also collects new toys, toiletries, gloves, hats, scarves, and socks for the homeless. Call 202-518-9400 ext. 565 or see

Washingtonian staff contributing to this section were Chuck Conconi, Sherri Dalphonse, Susan Davidson, Mary Clare Fleury, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Stephanie Jones, Ann Limpert, Drew Lindsay, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Jeremy Stahl.  Also contributing were writers Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Jenny Sullivan. 


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