Ways Minnesotans can help others during the holiday season

a man carries a basket filled with bags of food
Transit driver Alpha Diallo carries a basket of meals to his van in Moorhead, Minn., on March 31. Bus drivers are joining volunteers to help deliver meals to senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News file

Updated: Dec. 9 | Posted: Nov. 13

COVID-19 cases in Minnesota continue to spike, breaking daily records each week. Minnesota’s unemployment rate has been steadily dropping since its peak in May of 9.9 percent, yet still remains at 4.6 percent as of October

The pandemic is still affecting thousands of Minnesotans. Here is a list of nonprofits and organizations to donate to and also find help.


Minnesota organization GiveMN is a hub to search through thousands of nonprofits in the state. You can search their database any time to find a cause you’d like to donate to.

Second Harvest Heartland is the second largest food bank in the country. They provide various different ways to find meals to fit your specific needs all across the state. You can pick up at the food pantry or visit a dining site for prepared meals. They are looking for food and monetary donations as well as volunteers to sort and repackage food.

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Whether you’re looking to help or trying to find volunteers, you may find some helpful resources on the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration’s contacts page.

Twin Cities Mutual Aid Project is a consolidated map of mutual aid sites around the state. There is a group of volunteers scanning the internet for organizations 12 hours a day, seven days a week. This tool can help folks not only find volunteer opportunities in their area but also services they might need.

Since March, Every Meal in Roseville has responded to the skyrocketing increase in food insecurity their community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by adapting food gap programs to get food to children and families who need it most. Every Meal is currently providing over 200,000 meals a month across 31 school districts. Donations are always needed, and people can also host online food drives.

If you volunteer at a food shelf that may need extra help responding to the pandemic, you may want to reach out to the Foundation for Essential Needs. They partner with food pantries around the state to help reshape the food shelf system to provide healthy and equitable food. There are also a variety of volunteer opportunities available on their website.

In Minneapolis, St. Paul

Volunteers of the South Minneapolis Meals on Wheels deliver full meals to elderly and disabled people who are unable to shop for groceries or have a difficult time putting together their meals. Meals on Wheels continues to deliver the meals in person using necessary PPE. This year, they are asking for monetary donations in order to purchase PPE for their drivers and other volunteers. 

Metro Meals on Wheels reports they are expecting a 400 percent increase in meal needs due to the pandemic. In addition to monetary donations they are looking for volunteers to help in the kitchen to help prepare meals.

You can donate nonperishable foods, hygiene products and pet food to the Groveland Food Shelf in the Minneapolis area. You can also volunteer to help out at the food pantry, make deliveries and pick up donated food since many of their volunteers are staying away due to being high risk candidates.

The Union Park District Council is raising money for economic relief for residents of Union Park in St. Paul. If you’re interested in volunteering, they are looking for people to help clean up the neighborhood, enter data and write grants.  

The House of Charity in Minneapolis is looking for strong volunteers that are able to bend, stoop, squat, lift and move heavy items on Monday and Tuesday mornings. They are also asking for monetary, food and personal care item donations. 

Neighbors Inc. is asking for personal care item donations for their food shelf, especially laundry detergent. You can bring your donations between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays to their contactless drop off in South St. Paul.

Project for Pride in Living is asking for donations of hygiene supplies such as deodorant, toilet paper, dish soap and more for their site in Minneapolis. If you’re interested in getting involved, they are also looking for personal shopper volunteers. Project for Pride in Living also provides help with housing stability and career readiness.

For young people experiencing homelessness, Lutheran Social Services offers safe housing and food/hygiene/housing supplies in St. Paul. They are asking for food, cleaning supplies and diaper donations. If you’re interested in donating, schedule a time to drop off your donations.

Because of the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has suspended most of its activities involving volunteers. However, the organization still has staff members working on building and repair projects and is taking monetary donations as it continues to provide help with housing during the pandemic.

Right now, there is a critical need for all blood types. You can schedule an appointment to donate blood or convalescent plasma at the Memorial Blood Center in St. Paul.

The Organic Oneness Food Pantry at the Baha'i Center of Minneapolis coordinates emergency food and supply response for neighbors in South Minneapolis. They serve 50 families a week and are in need of laundry and dish soap, hygiene and feminine products, diapers, formula and baby wipes.

Sanctuary Covenant Church will be hosting drive-up food distribution events on Dec. 10 and 20, and after that will host events every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Diaper Bank of Minnesota has been working to meet the growing needs of families resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. They can use donations of diapers or money and also have volunteer opportunities and information on hosting your own diaper drive.

Community Driven has been rescuing surplus food from local restaurants and groceries in the Twin Cities and — in partnership with food shelves — getting it into the hands of those who need it. They also accept monetary donations.

In the Twin Cities suburbs

The Friends in Need Food Shelf is looking for volunteers to sort and stack donations and serve clients in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport and Grey Cloud Island Township. 

The Ralph Reeder Food Shelf is asking for shoppers, drivers and other volunteers to help out during the busy holiday season.

You can call The Open Door Pantry to schedule an appointment to pick up food in Eagan. The pantry is looking for food donations including produce. They are also looking for volunteers to stock shelves, shop with clients and drive their Mobile Pantry.

If you are a teacher or student who is in need of face masks, the Kids in Need Foundation is giving away masks to under-resourced schools in Roseville. If you are interested in volunteering, you can collect or make masks that will be distributed for free along with school supplies. 

If you are looking to volunteer from home, you can make frozen meals for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through Mount Olivet Rolling Acres. They are specifically looking for someone to drop off meals for seven people at a site in Eden Prairie.

If you live within the Independent School District 200 near Hastings check out Hastings Family Service. This organization provides emergency and supportive needs to those who are struggling with food insecurity and homelessness. They are asking for donations of non-perishable food items and fresh produce as well as gently used clothing and other household items.

There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available at Help At Your Door, based in Golden Valley, to help seniors and individuals with disabilities maintain independence and continue living in their homes. You can be a volunteer personal driver, grocery helper, delivery assistant and more.

Substance Church in Spring Lake Park and downtown Minneapolis host food drives every Sunday for those who are experiencing food insecurity. They are asking for volunteers to help with sorting, packing and distributing food at the food drives.

Shakopee-based Esperanza has been doing pop-up food distributions since March in partnership with community organizations, serving over 3,000 families on weekly basis. They are taking monetary donations to help support these and other efforts.

VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People) is a non-profit based in Bloomington that provides access to healthy food, social services and more. They are looking for volunteers to assist and schedule visitor appointments as well as volunteer drivers to deliver food to those who are without transportation.

Living Well Disability Services is asking for donations of gently used arts and crafts materials, books, DVDs and more for their residents. You can drop off your donations between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to their location in Mendota Heights.

If you are a senior living in Minnetonka and need help removing snow, Senior Community Services offers assistance with outdoor chores. They are currently looking for volunteers who are over 16-years-old to shovel and blow snow for seniors.

STEP in St. Louis Park provides a variety of necessities to those in need. Their services include a food bank and emergency help with housing and transportation. They have a few different ways to donate and volunteer as well.

CROSS serves families in need in several cities in the northwest metro area. They provide clothing, food and kid focused services — including a holiday toy drive happening now.

Southern Minnesota

Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester is looking for volunteers to help pack emergency food kits and to help sanitize their renovated food shelf.

Family Service Rochester provides a variety of services for families and children with welfare concerns. They’re currently looking for volunteers to help out with transportation and seasonal needs like shoveling snow.

A volunteer-led nonprofit, Community Food Response in Rochester provides food in the form of pre-filled bags for families on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They are in need of volunteers to drive to get the food from donors and for sorters to prepare the food for distribution.

Northern Minnesota

In addition to monetary donations, Community Action Duluth has a variety of volunteering opportunities. Right now they’re looking for people who can help out as GED tutors on the subjects of math, grammar and reading comprehension. The organization provides resources and support to people overcoming economic, racial and cultural barriers.

Ely Area Food Shelf has an open callout for volunteers to help around their facilities. They are also taking monetary donations and are close to reaching a goal they’d previously set. The food shelf is making delivery services available for people who are unable to leave their homes.

To the west, Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo, N.D., helps provide food for those in need across North Dakota and western Minnesota. They are looking for volunteers to help build boxes and prepare bags for special projects. They also need people to help out with their pop-up and mobile food services.

Central Minnesota

Big Lake Community Food Shelf is looking for food shelf volunteers as well as donations of food, money, cleaning supplies and personal care items. The organization helps connect local families with food, education resources and other local aid.

Correction (Nov. 13, 2020): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the extent of programming suspended by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. The article has been updated.

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