Volunteering MAKES THE DIFFERENCE in the lives of the homeless and needy in Union County, NJ.

There are numerous opportunities for individuals and groups – congregations, schools, corporations and clubs – to get involved. There are one-time opportunities or longer term projects – you choose what works best. Here are some examples of how you can help – or contact us. We would be glad to develop a program that will meet both your needs and ours.


Organize a Collection 

Sponsor a drive to collect essential personal and household items. For example, our winter shelter clients receive a hospitality kit – a duffle bag with a blanket, undergarments, change of clothes and personal hygiene items, so we always need these items. The families living in our Hospitality Houses need towels, bedding and basic kitchen supplies as well as food and clothing. And the children in Bernice’s Place need school supplies, coats and clothing. Or check out our current wish list on Amazon to buy something for our children or families.


Download our Coalition Collection Guide for more specifics. Please let us know what you’re doing or if you have any questions


Thanksgiving Baskets and Christmas Gifts

At Thanksgiving and Christmas, our families would not be able to celebrate without the food and gifts generously donated by volunteer groups. Sponsors provide everything needed for a holiday meal, including a turkey or grocery store gift card. And for Christmas, you are matched up with families so you can choose special gifts for individual family members. Volunteers are also needed to help sort and deliver donations. Contact us to sign up.


Children’s Christmas Boutique

One of our most popular events – our Children’s Christmas Boutique – gives children a special place to “shop” for Christmas presents for their parents and siblings. This afternoon event also includes a meal, help with wrapping presents, and fun arts and crafts activities. We need groups to help with all parts of the Boutique: collecting gift items, helping setup and supervising the shopping and activities. Contact us if you can help.


Help Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

Our year round children’s program, Bernice’s Place, can always use volunteers for homework help, planning and supervising activities, and special events. Involved in Girl Scouts or Cub Scouts? We have troops at the Coalition that are getting bigger every day – plan a joint meeting to work on a badge or just have fun together. Learn more about Bernice’s Place and contact us for more information.


Host a Party or Fun Educational Event for our Kids or Families

Make a healthy meal as a group, teach a class (Zumba anyone?), organize a party with arts & crafts or sponsor a trip to a musical performance or museum. These are things that are priceless to our clients, they would never be able to afford to do them otherwise. Learn more about our children’s Program, Bernice’s Place, or the Hospitality House Program. Contact us if you have an idea, we would love to hear it.


Family Fun Day – a Neighborhood Celebration

Our clients never get to experience a neighborhood party like the block parties that happen in many local communities. Our Family Fun Day has changed that – it’s a day of hot dogs and ice cream, games, entertainment with a DJ, and sometimes even a bouncy castle! We need volunteers to plan, organize and run this event held in early September. Contact us if you can help or be a sponsor.


Be a Part of the Change: Serve on one of our Program Committees

We are always looking for enthusiastic people to join the committees that support our programs: Bernice’s Place, our year round program for children; Hospitality House, our transitional housing for working families; and Operation Warm Heart, our winter shelter program. Contact us if you are interested in joining our planning committees.


Operation Warm Heart

During the coldest months, December to March, the Coalition sponsors an emergency shelter program called Operation Warm Heart. With the help of local churches and community groups up to 14 homeless individuals are given clothing, toiletries, a hot meal and a warm bed each night of the week. We need volunteers to help cook meals, provide hospitality or sort donations to make personal kits for each guest. Learn more about our program. Contact us if you or your group can help.


Volunteer to help at a Fundraising Event

Join our team to make our Fundraising Events a success!


In January we host Hoops to End Homelessness – a high school basketball tournament with local teams at the Dunn Sports Center in Elizabeth. We can always use help with selling journal ads/sponsorships, selling advance tickets or help on the day of the event at the food concessions. Contact us for more information.


Our longest running fundraiser, St Helen’s Service Auction, is held at St. Helen’s Parish Center in Westfield every Fall. Contact us if you would like to help out.


Also in the Fall, we host our annual Taste of Operation Warm Heart to help raise funds for our Operation Warm Heart program. We could use help with planning, contacting supporters and sponsors and during the day of the event. This is the perfect volunteer opportunity for the professional, active or retired. Contact us for more information. You can sign up for the 2019 dinner by clicking here.