Volunteering for the holidays can be a heartwarming activity by yourself or in the company of friends or family. First, think about this question – What is volunteerism? What does volunteerism mean to you? Perhaps visions of volunteering at a soup kitchen come to mind. Maybe you see yourself helping to organize a charity gala or other big benefit.
Places to Volunteer Your Time and Talents
If you are wondering how you can get started or where you should volunteer your time, you are not alone. Many of us want to do something, but we don't know where to start.
Some great places to volunteer, especially around the holidays, include:
- Animal shelters
- Food banks
- Homeless shelters
- Hospitals and medical centers
- Senior citizens centers and nursing homes
- Soup kitchens
- Toys for Tots and similar programs
If you are still looking for ideas in your local area, check to see if you can find a volunteer network to connect you with a cause or a group in need. Volunteer Match and Great Nonprofits are online services that can help you find a charity or important cause where you can volunteer your time and assistance in your area.
A great way to find volunteer opportunities is through the United Way. Give, Advocate, Volunteer. With its network of over a thousand community based United Ways, they are able to coordinate individuals, communities and businesses to work together to make stronger communities and a stronger world. If time is your concern, remember that you can also volunteer online through the United Way.
|Volunteer with the Red Cross.|
Just a month ago we suffered through one of the greatest storms on the upper East Coast due to the high winds and heavy rains of Hurricane Sandy. Many families were without power for days, if not a week or more. The American Red Cross and the Humane Society NY and NJ work to gather supplies to help disaster victims, families, individuals and pets, make it through these tough days until their power is restored and their homes are repaired. These organizations need volunteers, supplies and water.
|Pets make great |
volunteers for the elderly.
If your family has a dog and you have some free time on your hands, you might also consider training your pet as a therapy dog. These well-trained, friendly canines bring joy to young children and senior citizens alike.
It’s Never Too Late to Lend a Helping Hand
My first memories of volunteering date back to high school at Bethlehem Catholic, where we had to satisfy 20 hours of community service to graduate (or perhaps it was every year – the memories are just a bit fuzzy). My friend and I coached a little league soccer team and I also tutored younger kids to help them in school. I am sure I volunteered at other points, doing other things, but these are the most memorable occasions.
If you have a hospital near you, you might also be able to serve as a medical volunteer. Food and clothing drives can also be meaningful ways to volunteer time and energy.
Even if you only have a little time to dedicate, your actions speak louder than words. Giving an hour or two of your time once or twice around the holidays to help those less fortunate… the emotional rewards are greater than any holiday gift you can buy.
By Kathryn M. D’Imperio