10 Ways to Give Back Over the Holidays in Asheville & Buncombe County

The end of the year brings several holidays focused on time with friends and family, connecting in community, and sharing meals, gifts, time and wisdom with those around you. The volunteer center of United Way, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, makes it easy to get involved, offering meaningful volunteer opportunities with local nonprofit organizations and schools throughout Asheville and Buncombe County. With hundreds of opportunities made available by local nonprofits, middle schools and partner organizations, we’ve compiled a list of meaningful ways to spend a few hours giving back by yourself or with a group of friends or coworkers. 

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities in Asheville and Buncombe County:


  1. MANNA Packs for Kids. Help the Mountain Area Nutritional Needs Alliance, aka: MANNA,  support our local students. MANNA’s ‘Packs for Kids Program’ gives students from low-income families, who are dependent on free and reduced cost lunch, food to take home over the weekend and might otherwise go hungry over the weekend. Volunteers participate by packing food items into backpack-sized parcels that are distributed to local schools. Register to lend a hand and support local students in need.
  2. Sponsor a Little Brother or Sister for the holidays. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina has provided caring, adult role models to youth from single-parent homes since 1982. The large majority of ‘Littles’ in the program are on free/ reduced lunch, and poverty is often one of the challenges the family faces. Volunteers will have the opportunity to shop for and wrap gifts for ‘Littles’. A list of gift ideas and sizes will be provided (i.e.. new toys, books, and clothing). USED items will NOT be accepted. Sign up to support a local Little for the holidays.
  3. Donate Books During the Holiday Book Drive to Support Local Students. For the sixth year, United Way's Women United, with help from our volunteer center Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, will collect new books for middle and elementary school youth and get them to programs and schools serving kids in need. Interested in hosting an internal drive to inspire your co-workers, friends and family members to buy a book to support a local student over the holidays? Find out more and get involved. 
  4. Volunteer at Girls on the Run December 2nd. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that motivates and encourages girls in 3rd-8th grade by providing 10 week mentorship and coaching to develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. They need over 100 volunteers to ensure their end-of-season 5k is fun, safe, and successful. Help with set-up, registration, as a Spanish Translator, course Marshal, and more. Details and Registration to volunteer here.
  5. Help Stock the Food Pantry at Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry. ABCCM is currently looking for volunteers to help sort food, organize shelves, and pack food boxes for families in crisis. Volunteers are needed in the afternoon (12:15 pm-4:30 pm) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Sign up to help for a few hours by yourself or with a friend as  a team.
  6. Support a Child in Need as One of Irene’s Elves. The Irene Wortham Early Learning Center currently serves more than 90 children, with 95% living at or below the poverty level and 50% coping with significant disabilities. To assist their families, they partner with local businesses and individuals to provide each child clothes and gifts during the holiday season. We encourage you to join Irene’s Elves by “adopting” a child and fulfilling his or her wish list. Learn more about supporting a child as one of Irene's Elves this year.
  7. Knit-n-Give Hats for the Holidays. Help make baby and adult hats to support at-risk newborns and homeless adults. Completed baby hats and other knitted items will be given to new mothers in celebration of their completion of the Centering Pregnancy program for prenatal care, offered at WNCCHS and MAHEC. Adult hats, scarves, and slippers will be distributed by Homeward Bound of Asheville to men and women served at the A HOPE Day Center to keep our neighbors warm during the winter.  Learn more and get involved.
  8. Prepare and Serve a Meal for Local Veterans at Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry’s Veterans Restoration Quarters. Take some time to give back to those who have served our country and are now in need of assistance by serving a hot meal to the men staying at the ABCCM Veterans Restoration Quarters & Inn. Details and registration information.
  9. Provide Toiletries to  AHOPE to Support Homeless. The AHOPE Day Center provides a variety of basic need services each day to our neighbors experiencing homelessness in our community. One of those services is the use of on-site showers, which are constantly in-use and require regularly stocked toiletry items. Create a collection to support our neighbors in need. Learn more.
  10. Organize Crisis Closet for Buncombe County Students in Need. Volunteer to help Buncombe County Schools Homeless program organize and maintain their Crisis Closet. Volunteers will sort through donated food, personal care products, and school supplies, and organize them onto shelves and throughout the storage area. Register to lend a helping hand for our students.

* Please note that the list below is a small selection of current opportunities and that new needs, events and ways to help are being added daily, which you can continue to check via our 'Holiday Volunteer Opportunities' page.

We understand that everyone’s lives are busy so Hands On Asheville-Buncombe has made it easy for you to find a project you’re interested in and are able to commit to, whether that’s an afternoon or ongoing from week to week. For future updates on community volunteer opportunities, create a volunteer profile and mark your areas of interest. You can even create a ‘Volunteer Resume’ that will help you share the hours you contribute in the community. Get started in setting that up and begin making an impact alongside others in Asheville and Buncombe County.