How to help (close to home) this holiday season

Volunteers prepare the kitchen for opening night at the Warming Center. Photo provided by the Malden Warming Center.

This article is an updated and modified version of a piece that ran last year in Neighborhood View. Detailed info on how to help appears at the end of this article.

Are you looking for meaningful ways to give back this holiday season? Donating and volunteering locally has many benefits beyond the most important of meeting local community needs. 

Donating to a local food or toy drive or doing hands-on volunteering provides an opportunity to connect more deeply with one’s community and meet others who are spending their time giving back. Volunteering can also offer a different or broader perspective on one’s own life. The need for donations and volunteering is year-round, but giving back at this time could also help jump start a cycle of giving and volunteering during all seasons.

Malden Teen Center volunteers at work at Bread of Life. Photo by Malden Teen Center.

Malden is a community rich in nonprofits, service organizations and community groups that help those in need, including local people struggling with housing insecurity, food insecurity, substance abuse, isolation and other challenges.

The Malden Warming Center serves nightly meals and a warm place to stay overnight during the months of December – March. They “recognize each person’s inherent dignity and unique circumstance” as they collaborate with other local groups like Malden Overcoming Addiction and Malden Cares to connect guests to permanent housing, substance use treatment, and health and mental health services.

Emily Granoff, Board President for the Malden Warming Center, states, “We are an all-volunteer organization so there are definitely opportunities to come help out. If families want to volunteer together, helping prepare and serve a meal in the kitchen might be a good way to do that. If it’s just adults who are looking to volunteer, we have nine or ten shifts every night ranging from helping get guests supplies from the donations closet, to picking up donuts from Honey Dew Donuts and dropping them off at the Center before we open, to being a room monitor.” Training is required for all volunteers.

A recent Malden Warming Center training of new kitchen assistant volunteers. Photo by Malden Warming Center.

Merry Malden is an initiative that started in 2020 to collect, purchase and distribute holiday gifts for local children in need. Councillor Amanda Linehan and Dawn Macklin lead the effort with support from other community volunteers, the Zonta Club of Malden, St. Paul’s Parish and Forestdale Park Senior Living. 

“What makes our drive unique, beyond working intensively to reach under-served and previously unreachable community members, is the fact that we match individual wish lists directly with shoppers who anonymously and lovingly fill specific requests,” says Linehan.

The Malden Police runs a Toy Drive every December to support Malden families. Photo by Malden Police.

The holiday toy drive is one of several ongoing drives for local families. Another is one run jointly by the Malden Police and Fire Departments, with help from Councillors Jadeane Sica and Craig Spadafora. 

Volunteering can have a fun, creative twist with events like the upcoming 73rd Annual Santa Visits Pine Bank Parks event. Ward 5 Councillor Barbara Murphy is coordinating a team of Santa’s helpers to hand out hot chocolate and cookies. Costumes will be provided.

The Santa event at Pine Banks is popular every year. Photo by Ward 5 Councilor Barbara Murphy.

Food drives are ongoing. The Bread of Life in Malden collects food pantry items and folks can donate individually or run a drive through their business or organization. Food pantry use has been growing since the Covid pandemic and the need has been amplified by the rising cost of grocery store items. Bread of Life also welcomes volunteers for their food pantry hours – sorting, bagging, stocking shelves and distributing items to guests. The organization also runs an evening “grab & go” meal program four nights a week, and welcomes volunteers for that program. There are also opportunities to volunteer for the sit-down Christmas meal that will be served on December 25.

With regard to food items, you can also donate fresh food by participating in the Malden Community Fridge program. Simply drop off your items into one of the four brightly-colored community fridges placed around the city. Join the Malden Community Fridge Facebook group for updates about the program. 

Youth from the Nazarene Church stock the yellow fridge at Faulkner St. near the Community Garden. Photo from the Malden Community Fridge Facebook page.

To help you choose ways to give back locally this holiday season, the Neighborhood View team has compiled a list of opportunities to donate items and volunteer, summarized below. Please note that ALL of our nonprofits are in need of financial support, but this list focuses on specific gift donations and volunteer opportunities. Also, please note that this is NOT a comprehensive list. It is just a sampling of some key initiatives that provide ways to give back, particularly during this holiday season.

Donate New Gifts, Gift Cards, Shop Amazon Wishlists:

  • Malden Warming Center’s Amazon Wish List (especially long thermal underwear, individual servings of food items)
  • Bread of Life Wishlist (list of high need foods)
  • Merry Malden 2023 is looking for donors (send email to ) who will be paired up with a family w/ specific gift requests OR you can donate online and the volunteers will do the shopping at Merry Malden Wishlist 
  • Immigrant Learning Center (school supplies). Call the office first at 781-322-9777 to check on specific needs and hours for drop-off.
  • Housing Families (toy drive)
  • Police & Fire Department Toy Drive Amazon Wish List or drop off toys in person at Malden Police at 800 Eastern Avenue or at Malden Fire Department at 1 Sprague Street through Dec 15.
  • Malden Community Fridge – deposit fresh food donations to any of the four community fridges: Canal St. across from Cambridge Health Alliance; the corner of Beech St. and Lynn St. in Linden Square; at the Beebe School; and on the bike path behind U-Haul Storage at 420 Eastern Ave.

Volunteer in Person / Donate Your Time:

  • Malden Warming Center (prepare and serve a meal, do training and volunteer evening, overnight and breakfast shifts). Upcoming trainings (age 18+) are December 9th,10 AM – Noon, and January 6, 10 AM – Noon. No need to sign up for trainings in advance.
  • Bread of Life (food delivery, stock shelves, unload trucks, organize/clean, data entry, run a food drive)
  • Merry Malden (sort toys, deliver toys, shop for toys)
  • Immigrant Learning Center (classroom volunteer, substitute teacher w/ stipend)
  • Housing Families (tutoring and enrichment groups)
  • 74th Annual “Santa at Pine Banks Park” on Dec 16 from 2-6pm. Volunteers need to dress up as elves & characters and distribute cookies.  Contact Councillor Barbara Murphy at 781-910-8088 or
About Martha Bezzat 10 Articles
Martha Bezzat is a citizen journalist for Neighborhood View, an Education Support Professional at the Beebe School, and an active member of several community groups in Malden.

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