17 ways to give back as a family in San Antonio this summer
Summer is upon us, and even with sports camps, swimming holes, and family vacations, parents will inevitably be asked — and maybe even wonder themselves — that dreaded question: "What are we going to do today?"
Luckily, San Antonio is hot with volunteer opportunities and charitable events for family members of all ages to support during summer vacation. Get started with these 17 activities throughout San Antonio that offer flexibility and the opportunity to volunteer multiple times.
For more ways to get involved, check out our charity events calendar, part of CultureMap's Charity Guide, which spotlights organizations that make our communities a better place.
Know of a charitable event that deserves the spotlight? Submit it here. You can also submit a charity to be included in our guide.
Whether it's with the San Antonio Humane Society, the city’s Animal Care Services, Animal Defense League, San Antonio Pets Alive! — take your pick — make giving back is a family affair. In addition to helping feed, walk, and play with fur babies, volunteers can help with marketing, getting cats and dogs ready for adoption, and by being virtual foster parents. Age requirements for volunteers vary by organization.
Housing needs don't necessarily stop after someone has a home. Sometimes upkeep can be an issue, and homeowners need a helping hand. That's where Blueprint Ministries comes in. Youth and adults work together with this organization to build leadership skills while renovating homes for San Antonians who are older, have disabilities, or are from low-income backgrounds. Learn more about this organization's work and how to get involved here.
City of San Antonio
The City of San Antonio may not the first place people think of for volunteer opportunities, but it offers plenty of ways to get involved. Families can pitch in at the public library, with beautification and preservation projects, and more. Find out more information on how to make the city a better place here.
Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas
Save the planet as a family this summer by working on land conservation projects, inside community gardens, and more. The alliance even offers a photography program to help attendees learn more about South Texas' green spaces. Reach out to the nonprofit here to find out more.
Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio
Give back by literally creating a home for fellow San Antonians. For safety reasons, the nonprofit only welcomes volunteers 14 and older, but those ages 14 and 15 may paint, landscape, collect trash, and more. Volunteers above 15 may do general carpentry, such as hammering or installing insulation, but cannot participate in excavations, demolition, or roofing, and they cannot use power tools or work above heights of 6 feet. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Other restrictions apply, so check out the nonprofit's safety and regulations page here.
Inner City Development
This nonprofit operates in neighborhood near San Antonio's West Side, providing emergency needs and basic life services, mostly only with the help of volunteers. Volunteers can be coaches, leaders of youth programs, food pantry stockers, organizers of fundraising activities, groundskeepers, and more. Folks can also stay at a volunteer house when working with the nonprofit for a "significant portion of their time." The nonprofit provides room and board for 15 hours of service a week. Visit the group's website for more information.
Keep San Antonio Beautiful
Love a clean lake? Debris-free streets? Uncluttered paths on your hike? An army of volunteers are responsible for keeping Alamo City looking its best. Expand the pack by adopting a park, street, or neighborhood — it's really up to you. Go here for more information about how to get involved.
Meals on Wheels San Antonio
Volunteers transport meals to some of the community's most vulnerable populations, including homebound elderly individuals and people with disabilities. The help doesn't stop there. Meals on Wheels also fights the isolation and the loneliness some clients experience. Kids can tag along with their parents as they make these crucial deliveries. Not only are the visits eye-opening for children, clients usually appreciate the additional company.
Love art? Love talking to people? Love talking to people about art? Then the San Antonio Museum of Art might be the perfect family outing and volunteer opportunity. SAMA welcomes general volunteers to greet and inform visitors, and offers programs for teens, college students, and recent graduates. Check here for dates and more information. Other volunteer opportunities include the Witte Museum, which has volunteer spots for folks as young as 13, while the McNay Museum has numerous ways to give to the organization.
SAMMinistries is an interfaith organization that helps people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness in San Antonio. The nonprofit offers family volunteer days and other group opportunities, which may entail cleaning, painting, gardening, and more projects. Dates vary, so check about summer opportunities by contacting SAMMinistries at email@example.com.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
If Green Spaces isn't enough for the family's collective green thumb, the San Antonio Botanical Garden also welcomes volunteers. The botanical garden welcomes Children's Vegetable Garden Program volunteers, adventure guides, membership sales ambassadors, gardening and special events assistance, and more. Garden volunteers may be as young as 12, but anyone younger than 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Also, any volunteer working with children or handling money must go through a background check. Check here for more information on volunteer opportunities.
San Antonio Food Bank
Food insecurity is a major concern in South Texas, and organizations battling it are in need of even the youngest volunteers. San Antonio Food Bank welcomes volunteers of all ages, though anyone under 16 must have an adult volunteering at their side. Volunteers ages 15 and older can help out at the Haven for Hope Kitchen and those 16 years old and up can work in the community kitchen. Learn more here.
San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind & Vision Impaired
This organization provides rehabilitation and career services for people who are blind or have other vision impairments. Stop by for a visit to better understand the work this nonprofit does. The next open house is on June 20. On June 18, attend the organization's 9th Annual Art in the Dark, where guests can celebrate "The Touch," "The Sense," and "The Feel" of art. Peeking isn't allowed. Guests will experience artwork by local artists, potters, sculptors, and jewelry designers as people who are vision-impaired would — without actually looking upon it. The event benefits the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind & Vision Impaired's blind children’s programs. For more information about the event, go here.
San Antonio River Walk Association
The San Antonio River Walk Association welcomes volunteers of all ages. The organization looks for people who are able to lift up to 50 pounds of office supplies and other equipment, and have the "ability to move freely while working on floating boats" and "in extreme weather conditions." Volunteers must sign up to receive details about available opportunities. All ages are welcome, but anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Visit the organization's volunteer page for more information.
South Texas Blood and Tissue Center
Donate blood. It's easy. At South Texas Blood, donors must be in good health, at least 17 years old, and weigh at least 110 pounds. Sixteen year olds who weigh at least 120 pounds may donate, with parental consent. Volunteers, though, must be at least 16 years old (anyone under 18 needs parental consent). Areas of service include community outreach, donor appreciation, advocating on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program, and office support. Check with the organization for more information and about opportunities for younger volunteers.
Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio
Children as young as 3 years old can help out on this charity's assembly line packing weekend food supplements for children who are chronically hungry. Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio has no paid staff and uses all of its donations to cover the costs of food products. For more information about this program, click here.
2019 Walk to End Alzheimer's
Spend the summer helping the Alzheimer's Association plan for this event, which is scheduled for October 19. Volunteers can help in several ways, including recruiting teams for the walk, distributing materials for the event to the public, and landing sponsorships.
Other ways to give back
Families can give back just by adjusting their daily activities. Some ideas include starting a rain collection system, composting, or setting up a bird feeder and bath. Also, groups such as United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County and VolunteerMatch offer numerous other opportunities to check out this summer.