Volunteer with Kids in Des Moines

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Volunteer with Kids in Des Moines

Finding ways to volunteer as a family can become a lifelong tradition. Des Moines has many opportunities for those looking for ways to give back this holiday season. Giving back can mean volunteering your time, donating goods/services, or even writing a letter to someone in need. Read on to find different ways to contribute this holiday season.

If you do not see your organization listed please contact us and we will get you added to this list.

Volunteer, Children, Kids, Des Moines

A Heinz 57

A Heinz 57 commits to saving homeless companion animals, assisting other shelters/rescues through rescue transports, offering in-home training to keep dogs in their current homes, and educating the public on the issues of pet overpopulation, responsible pet ownership, and puppy mills.

Become a Pit Stop Volunteer. Pit Stop volunteers clean them, feed them, care for them, and prepare them for their temporary foster homes. Our foster volunteers take them into their homes, love them, teach them manners, crate-train them, and love them some more. Sign up to volunteer and make a difference in these furry friends’ lives.

Adopt- A- Shelf at the Altoona Library 

This is a great way for your young readers to gain literacy skills and give them an understanding of community services. Each child that signs up will be given a shelf of the library. The child, and their parents, are then in charge of keeping that shelf organized. There is a training class you must attend to learn how books are shelved in the library. Contact the Altoona Public Library for more information.

Animal Lifeline 

Volunteering at Animal Lifeline may consist of direct animal care, doing shelter laundry and dishes, socializing with animals, helping with the phones, helping with fundraising events, or baking goodies. If you are interested apply by filling out a volunteer form.

Animal Rescue League of Iowa

There are several ways you can volunteer at the ARL. Everyone is required to take a Volunteer Orientation. During that time you will learn about the different programs that are offered and how you can help such as feeding, walking, etc. Fill out the volunteer application to get started.

Children and Families of Iowa

For more than 132 years, Children and Families of Iowa has offered services and support to families. They find safe homes for children and help adults learn to cope with trauma. Sign up to adopt-a-family or donate an item for their Holiday Shop.

Children and Family Urban Movement

The mission of CFUM is to create a community that supports the potential of children, youth, and families through educational success, healthy living, and community engagement. There are many ways you can volunteer to learn more contact them today to help.

Community Youth Concepts

Community Youth Concepts provides volunteer service opportunities and career-based mentoring to Iowa youth. There are many ways you can get involved and volunteer. Check out their website for an entire list of opportunities.

Des Moines Children’s Museum

Des Moines is in need of a children’s museum! Help the Des Moines Children’s Museum grow by volunteering your time during their open hours at Valley West Mall. Bonus, you can bring your kids with you! This is a great way to get your children involved. They can help with cleaning up toys.


Easterseals offers help, hope, and answers to more than a million children and adults living with disabilities or special needs each year. There are several opportunities to volunteer including spending your time during an event or camp. Fill out the volunteer form to learn about all the opportunities available.

EveryStep Care and Support Services

Founded in 1908, EveryStep Care and Support Services offers more than 30 programs and services that help the community including assisting new mothers, immigrants, and refugees, developmental screenings for children, helping families in times of grief and loss, and more. You can donate on their website. There are so many ways to volunteer for EveryStep. You can help in hospice, senior companionship, grief, and loss, or at the EveryStep Giving Tree Thrift Store.

Festival of Trees

Festival of Trees is the largest fundraising event for Blank Children’s Hospital. The event features decorated trees, local music, dance groups, Santa, and more. You can volunteer by sponsoring a tree, decorating a tree, volunteering at the event, or attending the event. They also have a Gala to fundraise for Blank Children’s Hospital

Furry Friends 

There are many ways that volunteers can immediately help the animals at Furry Friends Refuge. You can assist with animal care such as making sure cats and small critters have enough food and clean water, clean cages, sweeping and wiping down surfaces, and more. You can help to make sure the facility is clean and kept up or help plan events. The first step is filling out a volunteer form.

GiGi’s Playhouse Des Moines

Gigi’s Playhouse is the only network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers. Every day they provide free, life-changing therapeutic, educational, and career training programs. Opportunities to volunteer include events, literacy tutors, group volunteering, and more. Fill out a volunteer form.

Habitat For Humanity

Habitat For Humanity offers several different ways you can donate your time including construction, preparing donations at the RESTORE locations, and more. Learn more about volunteer opportunities and apply.

Hawthorn Hill

Hawthorn Hill provides homeless families with free, temporary shelter with the goal of helping the families reach financial independence. They have a wish list of items you could donate. For the holidays, they are looking for volunteers to organize, clean, and prepare their New Directions Shelter. See this website for other ways to help this season. 

Hope Ministries

Since 1915, Hope Ministries has been serving people in Iowa suffering from homelessness, hunger, abuse, or addiction. They offer housing, meals, recovery programs, and more. There are several ways you can help this holiday season. For Thanksgiving, they need volunteers to help collect food donations, package/deliver Thanksgiving dinners and serve at Hope Cafe for their Thanksgiving dinner. For Christmas, they hope to bless approximately 200 people staying at their shelter with practical and personal gifts. They provide the list and you provide the gifts. Lastly, they also are looking for food donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Iowa Gardening for Good 

Iowa Gardening for Good is a project (soon to be a non-profit entity) created by the Blackmer family that focuses on involving people in growing things of value for a good cause. There are many projects that you can volunteer for including Apple Cider Gang, Pumpkin Fundraiser, Community Garden, and more. Learn more about how you can help and contact them if you are interested in volunteering.

The Johnston Partnership – Food Pantry

A DMARC Food Pantry is open to eligible families and community members in Johnston and the Johnston School District. They are always looking for donations and volunteers to help. Sign-up and select the activities you are most interested in during the sign-up process.

Jolly Holiday Lights

Jolly Holiday Lights, held at Outlets of Des Moines, began in 1996, and in 2023 they are creating a whole new concept. It is Iowa’s Make-A-Wish biggest fundraiser. It helps to fund over 1,000 wishes for deserving children. You can volunteer in various ways.


Joppa helps homeless people survive, find housing, and rebuild their lives. Each week, Joppa volunteers visit 200-225 people living on the streets. There are several ways you can volunteer at Joppa. Reach out to see how you can help.

Meals from the Heartland

At Meals from the Heartland, volunteers package meals to malnourished people in Iowa, across the United States, and the world. This is a great place to volunteer as a family. Children must be 8 years old to volunteer. Signing up for the package is easy using their online calendar. Your two-hour time slot will fly by as you package and enjoy the music they play along with the teamwork and fellowship that comes with it.

Mosaic in Central Iowa

Mosaic is a faith-based organization that serves more than 3,700 people with intellectual disabilities within 10 different states. Mosaic offers several opportunities to volunteer and donate your time.

Orchard Place

Orchard Place offers mental health and juvenile justice services to children and adolescents. This holiday season they are hoping to help 1,000 children receive gifts. Volunteer to sponsor a child by buying three gifts. See their newsletter for more information. 

Parks Community Dinner

Parks Community Dinner is a free Thanksgiving dinner available at Chuck’s Restaurant in Des Moines on Thanksgiving day to anyone in need in the Des Moines area. They are looking for volunteers to package, serve, and deliver meals. You can also donate a pie too. Children must be 10 years or older to volunteer. Email pctdvolunteer@gmail.com to sign up. 

Pet Project Midwest 

Pet Project Midwest is 100% volunteer managed and operated so are always in need of people willing to lend a hand. Please consider sharing your knowledge, skills, talents, interests, and time! Together you can help keep Iowa pets with the families who love them, and out of shelters.

Some ways you can help are by assisting with Saturday Pantry, being an office helper, or more. Email to receive a volunteer application.

Ronald McDonald House: Des Moines 

The Ronald McDonald House makes it possible for families to stay together when children are sick and healing. They provide stability and resources for families. There are tons of ways you can help whether it be donating, providing a meal, or volunteering in the many areas needed. Learn more

Salvation Army Bell Ringing

Address: Locations all around the metro

The Red Kettle Campaign started in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee saw that people were going hungry in San Francisco. He wanted to provide a free Christmas dinner to those in need. Now, bell ringing helps people throughout the year, including meals, shelter, Christmas gifts, and more. There is no minimum age so volunteer together as a family. Their website makes it easy for you to sign up as an individual, group, or even as a virtual ringer if you can’t do it in person. 

Toys for Tots

Address: Locations all around the metro

The Des Moines Toys for Tots is a subsidiary of the National Toys for Tots Foundation. The local campaign staff is active-duty Marines. You can donate new, unwrapped toys to locations all over the metro. Along with donating toys, you can also volunteer to help in other ways. They need volunteers to pick up the toy boxes and bring them to their warehouse and help with filling orders.  

Urban Bicycle Food Ministry

Urban Bicycle Food Ministry meets every week to serve those in need in the Des Moines metro. They serve food, hand out personal care items, and build relationships. Help prep food and deliver! They prep food every Thursday starting at 5:15 p.m. and then ride afterward. You can choose not to ride. Learn more by signing up to join their mailing list. Join the private FB Group.

Urbandale Community Action Network (UCAN)

UCAN, Urbandale Community Action Network, provides leadership and support to improve the quality of life for those in Urbandale. A fun way they kick off the season of giving is an event called Light Up Urbandale. Bring a free-will donation and enjoy the festivities such as Santa, music, food trucks, and of course light displays. A few of their holiday-giving programs include Thanksgiving basic needs baskets, adopt-a-family, holiday baskets, at-risk teen outreach, Santa for seniors, and Christmas food assistance.

Urbandale Food Pantry 

The Urbandale Food Pantry is a community effort to reach out to neighbors to provide food assistance. Beginning in 2016, they began serving residents throughout Polk County. You can volunteer to help behind the scenes or when the food pantry is open. Take a look at all the opportunities and sign-up.

Waukee Area Christian Services

Waukee Area Christian Services, practical care to greater Des Moines’ west side, offering food and medical assistance to those struggling to make ends meet. WACS includes a food pantry, free medical clinic, and community garden. WACS offers family and youth-friendly volunteering opportunities. Learn more and sign-up.

Waukee Community Closet

Waukee Community Closet aims to benefit students and families in need within the Waukee Community School District and now all of  Dallas County by taking in clothing and bedding donations as well as monetary donations and providing high-quality clothing (pre-worn as well as new) and bedding at no charge. You can donate or volunteer.

Wesley Life

Wesley Life is a senior community living facility. You can be part of their Wheels on Meals program to deliver meals to the residents or volunteer with their hospice team. Brighten someone’s day and write a letter to them using this site. This would be a great way to get children involved too. 

Wildhood Hills Ranch of Iowa

Wildhood Hills Ranch transforms lives and strengthens communities by providing healing and hope to children and youth at risk. There are many ways you can volunteer. Learn about all the opportunities and sign-up.

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Take a look at this great Random Acts of Kindness Chart I have created. Print it out, place it on your fridge, and cross off each item. 

Other ways to give back

Jackie Fioritto

Jackie Fioritto

Hi, I’m Jackie. I am a teacher who recently became a stay-at-home mother of two. My husband and I moved to Des Moines from Green Bay, Wisconsin a few years ago. Originally, I am from Chicago, Illinois. My family has loved exploring Des Moines and all that it has to offer!

One thought on “Volunteer with Kids in Des Moines

  1. Avatar Theresa Keleture says:

    Is there something like Baby Buddies around here?

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