Here's How to Volunteer in Denver Right Now

Give back this season.

It’s the season of giving, and what better way to give back to your community than to volunteer your time? Denver has an immense amount of nonprofits, volunteer organizations, and other opportunities to do good, help others, keep the city clean, and so much more. Whether your passion is helping animals, tackling food inequity, assisting with education and enrichment programs, or something else, there’s an org in the Mile High that could use whatever time you have to spare. Plus, if you’re looking for the right nonprofit for what you can offer or simply want to see what’s out there, Volunteer Match is a great way to discover all the organizations that could use your help. Give back this year and make tomorrow in Denver even better than today; your efforts have a greater impact than you’d imagine.


For animal lovers

It’s no secret that Denver is an extremely pet-friendly city. We have a great many animal shelters, rescues, and organizations that help pets in need from spaying and neutering stray animals to fostering good boys and girls until they can find their true homes. But the good work being done to help our furry friends is largely in part to volunteers donating time and resources to keep efforts going.

The Colorado Pet Pantry is a huge resource for pet parents in need of food or other pet supplies and is always accepting donations (material or monetary). There are consistently available volunteer opportunities in and around the state, and you can even host your own pet food drive.

The Denver Animal Shelter is a great place to get started with animal-related volunteering if you haven’t before, as is any of Denver’s other shelters such as Foothills Animal Shelter, MaxFund, or Denver Dumb Friends League. You can volunteer to do a number of tasks that seriously help these shelters, whether that’s bottle-feeding kittens, walking dogs, or helping out with administrative or cleaning duties.

You can also still help out while at home if you consider fostering with a local rescue. In addition to most of the shelters listed above, orgs like PawsCo, Soul Dog, My Fairy Dawg Mother, and Animal Rescue of the Rockies are always in need of reliable fosters to get pets adopted into loving homes.

Minds Matter Colorado
Minds Matter Colorado

For those doing it for the kids

Many of Denver’s nonprofits and change-driven organizations focus on providing essential items and services to youth. Heart and Hand, for example, is a nonprofit devoted to disrupting the cycle of poverty for children and families in northeast Denver through afterschool and summer programming and also provides resources and ongoing support for families. You can help by donating or volunteering to assist with programming.

Focusing more on educational services, Minds Matter Colorado connects ambitious students from low-income families with people and resources to prepare them for higher-ed, career, and future success, and you can apply to be a tutor or simply donate to keep their various programs up and running.

And given that it’s the season of gift-giving, plenty of toy drives are now in swing around the city. Kenzi’s Causes is hosting its annual drive, and Les Schwab has partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for Colorado’s Toys for Tots Holiday Drive this year. Other toy drives include that of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, but there are several others accepting gifts this year in various areas around the state.

Denver Rescue Mission
Denver Rescue Mission

For constant closet-cleaners

Though you may already be used to donating new or gently used clothes, winter weather rolling in means an increased demand for long-sleeves, winter coats, and other warm items like hats and gloves. Many pop-up or seasonal clothing drives are currently accepting donations, so it’s a good time to rifle through your closet and drawers for anything you’ve outgrown or no longer wear—as long, of course, as it’s still in good condition.

Dress for Success Denver is an organization dedicated to supporting women professionally by providing workplace attire, job skills, and other employment knowledge and assistance. In addition to donating professional or formal clothing or making a monetary donation, you can get involved by volunteering your time, skillset, and experience to help empower women in Denver.

Families in need may also experience obstacles when it comes to providing the necessary supplies for children—that’s where Clothes to Kids comes in. You can help Denver’s youth stay warm and comfortable whether at school or at home by donating clothes and shoes, spending time processing donations, or volunteering in a number of ways, including operations, events, or storefront opportunities.

The Saint Francis Center is another wonderful organization that provides clothing to people in need (especially men) as well as emergency shelter and employment assistance, among other necessary services. Depending on your personal skill set and interest, you can help people by distributing essential items, coordinating resident activities, or helping residents with job skills and employment needs, in addition to many other volunteer opportunities currently available. Additionally, the Denver Rescue Mission is always in need of donations and volunteers, but especially winter attire for these cold Denver days.

Mountain Roots Food Project
Mountain Roots Food Project

For kitchen dwellers

Even if you can only spare a few moments, dollars, or cans of non-perishable food, everything counts when it comes to helping the hungry. While it’s the season of feasting for some, others are still struggling just to make it through the day. A hot meal or bag of groceries can mean the world to someone in need.

The Food Bank of the Rockies is a great place to start, where you can drop off food donations or even organize a fundraiser or food drive yourself or through a company or organization. Volunteering at pre-existing events is also entirely welcomed.

Colorado’s Mountain Roots provides free boxes of fresh, local food year-round, and is looking to double its impact this holiday season. The nonprofit focuses on creating a more equitable and sustainable food system by distributing fresh, locally sourced boxes of ingredients for special holiday meals for 100 households. And everything about Mountain Roots’ produce is healthy and fresh, sourced primarily from their own community farms and small family farms in the region. You can donate to the cause on the Mountain Roots website or volunteer to help out with events or with farming and harvesting in the warmer months.

You can also help out on wheels—whether that’s in your car or on your bicycle—by volunteering to pick up and deliver fresh, healthy foods for Denver Food Rescue. But if you aren’t able to assist with deliveries, there are plenty of other ways you can volunteer and donate, too.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.