If you’re lucky enough to be visiting San Francisco during the most wonderful time of the year, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to fun festivities to get into. Along with hosting holiday outings and lively group dinners, one of our favorite ways to get festive during the holidays is to volunteer in the communities around our hostels in San Francisco. It’s a nice reminder to keep a little perspective and to show our appreciation for the people and places that make the City by the Bay so great.
Help prepare and serve meals at St. Anthony’s
St. Anthony’s has been providing food for low-income and homeless residents of the Tenderloin neighborhood since 1950, and today they dish up more than 2000 hot meals each day. You can sign-up to drop in and help prepare or serve food in the non-profit’s famed dining room any day of the year for about four hours a session. You’ll get to work with local volunteers and mingle with the community in this long-loved meeting place for all.
Give your leftovers to someone in need
While you’re out and about enjoying all the good food there is to eat in San Francisco, consider your leftovers and whether you’ll really eat that half sandwich later. If not, see if you can give it to someone who might not have had a meal recently.
Donate toiletries to Simply the Basics
One of the most common requests from people living in the streets is for socks and hygiene products, which also help with managing health. Simply the Basics is an organization that meets this need by putting together hygiene kits with soaps, toothbrushes, feminine products, and more for donation. You can check if HI SF Downtown hostel is hosting any sorting parties with Simply the Basics while you’re in town, otherwise drop off new and unused toiletries at the front desk.
Let go of excess baggage and donate some clothes
If you’re looking to let go of some extra pounds in your baggage, you can always donate your extra, unwanted clothes. Ask at the front desk of the hostel you’re staying at to see if they have any local non-profits to recommend, otherwise, try St. Anthony’s or Glide, where they are regularly accepting clothes.
Get involved at GLIDE
A favorite of the folks at HI SF City Center hostel, GLIDE is a long-standing community partner that provides daily free meals, after-school programs, and health check-ups in the Tenderloin. In fact, every time you join a community meal at the hostel, your contribution goes to the organization. During the holidays, GLIDE has several festive events where you can volunteer, including a toy bag giveaway, Christmas celebrations and meals, and the daily meal program. The more the merrier, so grab a gang of friends to go help out.
Help maintain the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Here’s your chance to get a little nature time while helping keep the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which HI SF Fisherman’s Wharf hostel calls home, pretty and accessible for locals and travelers. You can join efforts to remove non-native plants around Fort Mason or help out at the nursery in the Presidio, or you can even go across the Golden Gate Bridge and help restore historic structures or volunteer at the nursery at Fort Funston (it’s also a good excuse to spend the night at HI Marin Headlands).
Collect non-perishable goods to donate
If you aren’t able to donate your time, consider gathering a group of travelers to donate some canned goods and other non-perishable foods to a local organization. St. Anthony’s, Glide, and the San Francisco Food Bank will accept your food donations, and they’ll make sure it all goes to those who need it most.
HI USA Tip: The great news is that you’re already doing some good just by choosing to stay at a HI USA hostel, here’s how.