Holiday Volunteer Opportunities in Paris
Friday, December 17, 2010
Heather Stimmler-Hall in Christmas, Make a Difference, New Year's Eve, Red Cross, Salvation Army, donate, food bank, holidays, volunteer

If you’re in
Paris during the holidays, far from your family, no reason to feel sorry for yourself. Take advantage of your lack of “family obligations” and help out those in need in your adopted community.

There are a few charitable associations who need extra help over the holidays. And of course, if you don’t have the time, your tax-deductible donations are always welcome:

Les Petits Frères des Pauvres needs volunteers for the 24th and 25th December to accompany the elderly to and from a community Christmas dinner, and also to help prepare and serve the holiday meal.

Le Secours Populaire needs help at their Marché de Noël to distribute food and accompany children on holiday excursions to the theatre.

The Armée du Salut needs people to help wrap gifts in the 12th and 13th arrondissements through the 24th December, as well as volunteers to help with the holiday dinner celebrations on the 24th and 31st.
** I'll be at the Italie 2 shopping center (Place d'Italie, 13th) wrapping gifts at the Armée du Salut stand outside Carrefour on December 23rd from 4-7pm...come say hi!**

UNICEF is urgently looking for volunteers to help sell their holiday cards at stands around Paris through January 10. Email or call 01-48-74-74-60. You can also help by simply purchasing their holiday gifts, calendars and cards (I get mine at their Marché de Noël stand in the Italie 2 commercial center).

The Restos du Coeur are food distribution centers that need long-term volunteers and donations.

La Banque Alimentaire is also a food bank that needs long-term volunteers and donations.

The Apprentis d’Auteuil help at-risk youth. You can become an e-volunteer by sending their eCards and posting their banners on your website. l You can also visit their excellent Marché de Noël, Les Féeries D’Auteuil through Sunday December 19th.

The Société de Protection des Animaux (SPA; needs volunteers to help out at their shelters throughout France (the one in Paris is at 39 boulevard Berthier, 17th). Even if you just have time to come and walk, pet and give attention to the dogs and cats, it's much appreciated. And of course, if you're looking to adopt a pet, think of those which are abandoned or rescued from illegal puppy mills (which usually end up being sold at pet shops).  Another site for pet adoption in France is Second Chance (

If you want your shopping euros going to a good cause, check out the first Oxfam bookstore in France at 61 rue Daguerre, 14th.  They buy and sell  books, CDs, and DVDs in French and English.

There is also a pawn shop for charity, Happy Cash (corner of Rue Coypel and Rue de la Primatice, 13th, behind the Mairie at Place d'Italie), where you can take in all of your working electronics, gold jewelry,video games, CDs, music instruments, etc. in exchange for cash, something in the store, or for a tax-deductible donation to the Chaîne d'Espoir children's charity.

Looking ahead in January and February, the SOS Helpline in English is looking for volunteers. “Interested fluent-English speakers are invited to come along to ONE information session on EITHER 25 January, 2nd February, OR 10 February to meet us and find out more about the organization.” They are at 7pm at the American Church, 65 Quai d'Orsay, 7th (M° Invalides/Alma Marceau - RER C line Alma) Visit the website for more details. You may also email with specific questions.

Finally, the Croix Rouge not only regularly recruits volunteers and staff in France and abroad (“Je M’Engage”), they also offer regular training weekends in First Aid/CPR (Prévention et secours civiques de niveau 1 in the “Je Me Forme” section), €60 per person, throughout Paris. Look for the section of their website.

For other volunteer opportunities searchable by theme, location, or skill, check out these excellent websites:

And more suggestions from the Mairie de Paris.

Update on Saturday, December 25, 2010 by Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

For those who speak no French:

Your best bet for finding volunteer opportunities without speaking French is probably to call the American Church or the American Cathedral (I've been told they serve meals to those in need at least once a week). There are no other English-language groups in Paris that I know of who do regular aid work. If anyone knows of any, let me know!

Article originally appeared on The only authentic insider guide to Paris. (
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