Volunteer this holiday season

With the holiday shopping season already in full swing, it can be difficult to remember that there are people in our community who lack basic necessities, such as food and warm clothes.

With the holiday shopping season already in full swing, it can be difficult to remember that there are people in our community who lack basic necessities, such as food and warm clothes. However, for those of us that have more than we need, this time of year is one of the most common seasons to feel depressed. 

Thankfully, there is one solution to both these problems. According to brain research conducted by National Institutions of Health, the University of Wisconsin and Emory University, among others, acts of compassion cause the release of endorphins, resulting in the same emotional response experienced during eating and sex. This year, consider some of these options as ways to reach out to the community and help someone in need, while improving your own mental health in the process. 

Help at the Oregon Food Bank

7900 NE 33rd St. 


Located just several miles away from Portland State in northeast Portland, the Oregon Food Bank supplies countless charities with food stock year-round. The need for volunteers at this location is very high, and the process is simple. To apply as a volunteer, visit its website at www.oregonfoodbank.org. The volunteer positions range from packing individual grocery bags to sorting fresh donations.

Sell Christmas trees for Café au Play

5633 SE Division St.

[email protected] 

Café au Play is a coffee shop, play space and communal gathering place for caretakers, parents and children in the city of Portland. The mission of Café au Play is to empower parents and caretakers by  connecting them with each other and a myriad of community resources. As a nonprofit organization, it depends on coffee sales, private donations and fundraisers to cover costs. 

Additionally, its annual Christmas tree sale is a major source of revenue, and it requires a high volume of volunteers. The sale runs from Dec. 3–23, weeknights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers can contribute by posting fliers before the sale and tagging, trimming and helping customers load trees. In addition, the organization needs donations of baked goods to sell at the tree lot. If you are interested in helping in any capacity, send an e-mail to the cafe.  

Take a shift at Fish Emergency Services

1335 SE Hawthorne Blvd.


This food and clothing pantry is located on Southeast Hawthorne, just north of Ladd’s Addition in southeast Portland and walking distance from campus. It specializes in providing bags of groceries and gently used clothing to people in need at no cost. This season, Fish needs people to pack bags and run the clothing room distribution. Community help is crucial, as the organization runs entirely on volunteer manpower. Volunteers are taken on a walk-in basis from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday. One can also call ahead. 

Donate non-perishables to ASPSU’s food pantry

117 Smith Memorial Student Union


We are all aware that money is tight, and as students it can be difficult to work and keep on top of schoolwork when financial aid doesn’t cover all living expenses. To help address this issue, one of ASPSU’s goals this year has been to open a food pantry for students at PSU. The pantry, located on the second floor of SMSU, is close to completion and ASPSU is collecting supplies and food with which to stock it. 

There are drop-off bins around SMSU, including one in the ASPSU office and in Ondine Residence Hall. Currently, ASPSU is also running a food collection competition between student organizations, so stop by any of the participating groups and make your donation of toothpaste, soap, canned food, dry pasta and other shelf-stable food items. 

Join Hands On Greater Portland

1621 NW 21st Ave. 


Hands On Greater Portland not only sets up its own volunteer events in the city, but also partners with other local charities to help them recruit volunteers. One of the main features on Hands On’s website, www.handsonportland.org, is a calendar that centralizes all the volunteer opportunities for most of the charitable organizations in the area. Because many people volunteer during the holidays, lots fill up fast so sign up early and check back frequently for updates. ?