Why do so many people donate money, volunteer their time to help people, and take part in charity fundraisers?
Because it feels good! Not to mention its great for the community...
And as we prepare to say thanks over the family turkey dinner, it’s time to start thinking about how we can all hlp someone in need.
This year, as you prepare for parties and gatherings with your family and friends, take a moment to think about how lucky you are. Then take a moment to think about how you can help people who have less than you.
If you’re looking for a meaningful way to spend your weekends this holiday season, here are 9 great ways that you can volunteer in your community!
Donate Food to Those in Need
No one should go hungry. Ever.
Food banks and food pantries exist in just about every city, and they are always accepting donations. Find a food bank near you and drop off canned goods and dry goods. Look for a local church that serves holiday meals and donate turkeys, hams, or other fresh items.
Dropping off a donation only takes a few minutes, and it’s always appreciated. But you can also volunteer your time by cooking and serving meals or helping to clean up. This is a great activity to do with a group of friends, your family or even your coworkers.
Keep Your Community Warm with a Coat Drive
From the elderly to the youngest among us, everyone deserves to be warm this winter. Coats are always in need, so creating or donating to a coat drive is one of our favorite ways to spend a December weekend.
Make a Child Smile: Donate Toys in Your Neighborhood
Every child deserves the chance to unwrap a gift on Christmas morning! When it comes to volunteering, almost nothing feels better than helping a child in need. Look for a toy drive where you can donate toys. You can also volunteer your time to wrap gifts and deliver them to children who deserve to feel special this holiday season.
The Salvation Army and Toys For Tots are two of the most well-known national toy drives that aim to bring a smile to every child’s face at Christmas. You can also check with local children’s hospitals and children's charities to provide assistance to kids right in your community.
Serve Meals and Support the Homeless
Depending on where you live, homelessness may or may not be something you see on a daily basis. But in most of America’s metropolitan areas, it’s impossible to ignore.
Christina Carlson, CEO of Urban Peak in Denver, CO, sums up the needs of the homeless perfectly:
“At a time when many of us are celebrating the pleasures that come from family, friends, a safe and stable home…the needs of homeless youth are more basic. We try to bring joy and community into the season by offering festive meals, distributing simple (and much needed!) gifts, and providing kind and compassionate support.”
This holiday season, spend a few hours cooking or serving meals at a local shelter. Do what you can to provide a festive atmosphere for those who don’t usually have one. And don't forget to collect and donate clothing and basic accessories. Those are always in need!
Adopt a Family
What makes the holiday season so special is that we get to spend it with family. And there’s no better way to make memories with your own family than to adopt another family in need.
Visit Doing Good Together to learn how you can adopt a family and find a variety of other volunteering opportunities in your community.
Spend Time With a Senior
For the elderly who may not have much family of their own, the holidays can be one of the loneliest times of the year. This year, volunteer your time at a nursing home or senior citizen’s center to entertain, wrap presents, play games, and show the elderly that you care!
Visit the AARP Foundation to find an event near you or contact a local nursing home to see how you can help in your city.
Get the Kids Involved With Arts and Crafts
You’re never too young to volunteer! This year, get your entire family, including your kids, involved in volunteering opportunities.
Gather your children at your dining room table and make homemade holiday cards for senior citizens in a nearby nursing home. Spend time together as a family, putting together care packages to send to the troops overseas. There are endless ways that kids can get involved!
If you have some crochet skills, put them to good use!
Children’s hospitals, homeless shelters, and veteran’s hospitals can almost always use blankets, scarves, and hats during the winter season.
Put Your Baking Skills to Good Use
If you love to bake cookies and pies during the holidays, bake a few extra to donate to shelters or soup kitchens in your community. This is another great way to get your entire family involved.
Take a day to bake your favorite treats at home with friends and family. Then, spend a few hours dropping them off to the homeless, soup kitchens, or to neighbors that may be in need. Even a small tin of cookies can make someone else’s holiday season a little brighter.
How Can You Volunteer Around the Holidays?
There are endless ways to help others, and there are easy ways to find volunteering opportunities right in your own neighborhood.
If you don’t already have a specific volunteering opportunity in mind, finding one is as easy as doing a simple Google search.
Search for “volunteering opportunities in [your city].” Visit non-profit portals such as All For Good, Idealist, or Volunteer Match. Whether you volunteer for a few hours on a Saturday or make a commitment to donate your time and effort every weekend, you can make a difference.
And there’s no better time to start than right now!