Meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service.

About the program

Winter Wishes is one of our longest-running and most-loved annual programs. Similar to other holiday gift drives around the country, our program provides holiday toys and gifts for tens of thousands of children and teens at nonprofits and schools across the five boroughs.

Our Impact

This year, the focus of our program is providing gifts to children and teens from low-income families. In line with this mission, we have prioritized family shelters, public housing providers, and Title 1 schools. One in ten NYC students experiences homelessness every year. New York Cares believes everyone deserves to experience the joy of receiving a special gift during the holiday season.  This year we will grant the wishes of 35,000 children and teens! 

Our Partners

All the organizations that participate in Winter Wishes are current New York Cares Community Partners who serve children and teens experiencing homelessness and/or financial insecurity. This means they are either a public school, government agency or a registered nonprofit. Our partners vary from large, established nonprofits to small, locally run organizations. Each has been verified by New York Cares' Education and Family Programs team and many are past program participants. 

How it works

Children and Family Write Letters

Our Community Partners help their clients write letters asking for holiday gifts.

Letters Arrive at Our Office

New York Cares staff and volunteers read each letter and match requests with volunteer wish-granters.

Volunteers Sign Up for Gifts

Volunteers can register as individuals or as a group. Simply register on our website (once it opens in October) and select how many wishes you would like to grant. New York Cares has tried to ensure that each letter or request has items under $40. There is no obligation to provide a gift that costs more than $40.


Presents Arrive

Volunteers mail the holiday gifts directly to our Community Partners. Our Community Partners give the gifts out to their clients, who enjoy a happy holiday knowing that someone in New York City cares about them!