Holiday Volunteering Ideas

During the holidays, many of us feel blessed to have what we do. We are clothed, fed, and sheltered and have our needs and wants met. However, there are those of us who don't, and for them, the holidays can be a very hard time. Volunteering during this time of year can be immensely rewarding, and there are many, many ways to help out. Here are a few:

1.) Spend time at a nursing home singing carols or giving out small gifts to the residents. Some of them may not have any family members to come visit them, and will otherwise spend the holidays alone. If you can, take the time to sit and talk with a few people, they have many stories and much wisdom to share with those who listen.

2.) Buy some inexpensive dog and cat supplies ( toys, treats, collars, blankets, etc) and deliver them to your local humane society or animal shelter. These place usually run on donations alone and don't always have enough of everything to give to each animal. Most places will also let you walk the dogs if you ask, it's great exercise for both you and the dog! I did this last year and one of the women actually cried because the place I went to was almost about to close due to lack of donations. You really can help this way.

3.) Take your unwanted canned food (creamed corn, anyone?) and bring it to a food pantry, then donate a few hours to give out food. These places are always looking for extra help around the holidays, and with our economy the way it is, they will be grateful for your food and your time.

4.) Call your United Way! They are in every phone book and you can request free information about volunteering opportunities in your area. You get a booklet filled with places needing volunteers. This is also a great resource to give to someone who needs assistance with food or heating bills, since all the places to go to are right in the book.

5.) If your community has a youth center, go mentor or tutor a child. It is time well spent- after all, you're influencing our future.

6.) Find out if your area has a Toys For Tots program, and sign up to be stationed at one of their drop-off points. They collect donated (new) toys and give them to children in hospitals, detention centers, and poor families who can't afford to buy toys for Christmas.

7.) Adopt a family. Look this up online since there are different programs. You can adopt anyone between a single senior living alone to a family of eight who lost their belongings in a fire. You can give them Christmas dinner, buy presents for the whole family, or just about anything you can think of to give a disadvantaged person (or people) a happy holiday.

There are many more ways you can give of yourself during the holidays; this is just a jumping off point. Even if you have no money to spare yourself, you can always give time, which is worth just as much. Happy Holidays!

CJ

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