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April 21, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Giving Back in Middle Tennessee

As we spend time with our loved ones and get into the holiday spirit, there's no better time to give back.

If you’re feeling extra generous this time of year, we’ve rounded up events, volunteer opportunities and organizations that help make our cities a better place.

30 Ways to Give Back to Your Community

Toys for Tots Virtual Toy Drive
Through a partnership with, you can give a needy child a toy without having to find a local box distribution point. This virtual toy drive makes it easy and contact-free.

Volunteer Match
Volunteer Match makes it easy to give back. Log on and search hundreds of opportunities in your area.


Hands On Nashville
615-298-1108 |
Hands On Nashville is a volunteer resource center than coordinates several service projects each month. While many have an age requirement of 18+, there are many that youngsters ages 8 and older can do alongside Mom and Dad. They include neighborhood clean-up initiatives and food pantry duties.

Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels
615-331-6033 |
While the program does not utilize volunteers for meal delivery in Davidson County, it does have a cool program for children called Nourishing Notes. Kids can make cards with greetings or draw artwork to be delivered to meal recipients. It’s a great way for children to exercise their creativity in a way that will brighten someone’s day. For more info about getting your kids involved with Nourishing Notes, e-mail Sharon McDaniel at the address above.

Second Harvest Food Bank
331 Great Circle Road, Nashville
615-329-3491 |
Got kids 6 and older? Sign up to participate in Family Nights. They take place Thursdays from 5:30 – 8 p.m. Kid-friendly projects include packing backpacks with food distributed through schools to children at risk of hunger. Other duties include bagging bulk produce into family portions; assembling monthly food boxes for senior citizens; and packing meal bags for community centers, schools and other agencies.

Vanderbilt’s Virtual toy Drive
In lieu of bringing toy donations to the hospital this year, please visit our virtual toy drive and make a donation based on the items you’d like a patient to receive, letting our staff safely do the shopping.

The Last Minute Toy Store
The Last Minute Toy Store is a ministry of Highland Park Church and The United Methodist Churches in partnership with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, churches, business, civic groups, and individuals. It has been collecting and distributing Christmas gifts to needy children in Nashville since 1993. Each year it serves more than 6,000 children who otherwise would likely not have any presents.  Companies and individuals collect new, unwrapped toys (no clothing or footwear) and other age-appropriate gifts, including gift cards, in the $10-$25 range for ages newborn to 18, and then deliver them to the Davidson County Sheriff Service Center at 5115 Harding Place.

The Nashville Food Project
The Nashville Food Project prepares and delivers about 6,500 scratch-made meals each week using fresh produce, donated food and volunteer help. The meals are distributed at about 40 sites across the city where food project partners work in various ways to disrupt poverty — after-school programs, veterans groups, senior programs, etc. Items can be dropped off at the Food Project kitchen any weekday between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at 5904 California Ave. If it’s a large quantity that needs pick-up, contact

Nashville Humane Association
The Nashville Humane Association would love for you to use your holiday party to collect pet food for the dogs and cats in their care. The NHA wish list also includes: towels, blankets, puppy pee pads, stuffed toys for dogs, cat plastic toys, bleach and paper towels.

Nashville Diaper Connection
Nashville Diaper Connection’s mission is to ensure that every baby in Nashville has enough diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy. With the average cost of diapers for one baby estimated to be $85 per month, some families often have to choose between food and diapers. The Diaper Connection’s diaper bank gives to more than 1,350 babies every month, which is still only 3% of the need for babies living in poverty here.

Room in the Inn
This time of year, Room in the Inn always asks for coats, gloves, scarves, thermal underwear and socks. There are a lot of ways you can help collect these items, and some of them make it so much fun that it is hard to resist getting involved. Room in the Inn’s wish list includes: AA and AAA batteries, art supplies, backpacks, books and magazines, bottled water, ChapStick and lotion, feminine hygiene products, gloves, flip flops, hand warmers, hats, hooded sweatshirts, new socks, playing cards, razors, puzzle books, razors, reading glasses, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Nashville Launch Pad
A ‘street free sleep’ initiative by members of the LGBT & Allied community poviding open and affirming sleeping shelters for the Nashville area. Donate food, supplies or your time. Volunteer duties include delivering meals, answering the room phone as guests have needs/questions and just generally being a helpful resource.

Angel Tree Program
The Angel Tree Program is a Christmas assistance program for families needing help providing gifts and basic needs to their children at Christmas. Each tree has a tag that says the age of the person and some of their needs/wants. This is such a great teaching lesson for children.


Feed America First
319 Murfreesboro St., Murfreesboro
615-512-5915 |
This Murfreesboro-based nonprofit is a hunger relief organization that provides food to those in need locally and across the country. Volunteer as an individual or as a family to help sort the food to be distributed.

Mid-Cumberland Meals-On-Wheels
615-595-1225 |
Individuals, businesses, scouts, grade school classes … anyone … can volunteer. They seek drivers and friendly faces to deliver meals to senior citizens in the area.

Nourish Food Bank
1809 Memorial Blvd., Murfreesboro
The new distribution warehouse is open in Murfreesboro. It seeks individuals and volunteer families to load and unload food, sort and stock, pack daily carts for families, clean and organize. There will be a number of opportunities in the near future due to numerous food drives. Those younger than 18 require parental consent or be accompanied by a parent (ages 14 and younger are required to have an adult accompany them at all times).

Pet Adoption & Welfare Services (PAWS)
285 John R. Rice Blvd., Murfreesboro
615-898-7740 |
Kids and their parents can volunteer to provide undivided attention to the animals, help the staff around the office and more. You have to complete one volunteer orientation, which is held once a month on Saturdays at 8 a.m.

Second Harvest Food Bank
1958 Almaville Road, Smyrna
This organization works to feed hungry people and solve hunger issues in Middle and West Tennessee. Individuals and families can volunteer every day to help sort and pack food donations, prepare BackPacks for hungry children, and assist with special events and more.

Volunteer Rutherford
This comprehensive resource of charitable organizations in Rutherford County connects volunteers to services that matter to them. The site also has listings of current donation/volunteer needs, publicizes non-profit events and more.


A two-day shopping event at the Hendersonville Walmart supplying gifts to local children in need. Shoppers will be assigned a child and his or her list to shop at on Dec. 7 or 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Each child will still receive a $150 shopping spree from a personal assigned shopper instead of shopping in person with a child as in year’s past. Childrens gifts will be separated into schools and delivered to children December 15.

Bows & Ballcaps
In collaboration with Monrow Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Bows & Ballcaps will hold its annual Breakfast with Santa event at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Nov. 28. The traditional breakfast includes a buffet, a photo with Santa, kids activities and a toy drive. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to be given to kids who will be in the hospital Christmas morning. Adults $19.50, kids 3-12 years $15.50, and 3 and younger $5.50.

Sumner County Food Bank
The holiday season is the food bank’s most strenuous time. Monetary donations can help purchase food from Second Harvest Food Bank to serve the hungry throughout the county.

Wreaths Across America
Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. Help by sponsoring a veterans’ wreath at a cemetery near you, volunteering or donating to a local fundraising group.


Franktown Open Hearts
Volunteer families are needed to help with the Christmas Shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. You’ll be paired with a child to help him shop for Christmas gifts for his family. It takes place at Christ Community Church (1215 Hillsboro Road, Franklin).

Mid-Cumberland Meals-On-Wheels
Individuals, businesses, scouts, grade school classes … anyone … can volunteer. They seek drivers and friendly faces to deliver meals to senior citizens in the area.

GraceWorks Ministries
This organization provides help with food, clothing and financial assistance to residents of Williamson County. Ages 8 and older can volunteer with their family at the Food Pantry to assemble “Fuel Bags,” process food donations, sort food and more. They seek volunteers for their annual Manger Christmas Gifts held Dec. 12 – 15 at Church of the City (828 Murfreesboro Road, Franklin) and Saturday, Dec. 15 at Fairview Baptist Church (7310 Overby Road, Fairview).

Williamson County Animal Center
106 Claude Yates Drive, Franklin
Ages 5 – 10 can volunteer for Book Buddies, where they can read books to shelter cats while creating a positive relationship between shelter animals and children. There’s a one-time orientation, but after that, you can volunteer Mon – Fri from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sun 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Bring your own books or choose from what’s available.

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