The holidays are the time of year when we are the most giving. Traditionally the “giving” during the holiday season takes the form of gifts for friends and family. But there is another way that you can “give” and it doesn’t cost a dime… Volunteer.
Although the holidays are a time of giving, it is also important to help those around us who might not be able to have the giving holiday that we are blessed to have. Not everyone will have a big holiday meal, parties and holiday presents.
While many of us may not be able to volunteer during the year do to our our busy work-and-family lives, surely we can make some time during the holidays to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate. If you or your family want to do something worthwhile during your time off from work and school the following are places that can always use help… especially during the holidays.
The Salvation Army – Each Holiday Season, The Salvation Army provides thousands of meals for needy families across the country. Almost 3.4 million people of all ages volunteered their time, talents, and resources to assist The Salvation Army’s work in 2012. With the help of volunteers, traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are served to all who attend and are home-delivered to home-bound individuals. Volunteers are always needed to set up, serve, clean and usher at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and to deliver holiday meals to families and shut-ins. Children under 18 may volunteer if accompanied by an adult. Many of the Salvation Army units across the country list their volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Match. To get involved, just visit the Volunteer Match website at www.volunteermatch.org and search with keyword “Salvation Army.”
Find a Food Bank – For many people like the elderly, sick or homeless, cooking is an highly difficult chore. Image the holidays without a delicious meal… If you are someone who loves to cook, check to see if you have a local food bank, I bet you do, to see if you can help out with cooking or the home-delivery food program. Without at least one delicious meal, the holidays can feel so isolating and lonely.
Hospice – In case you never heard of Hospice, they provide care in an end-of-life setting, relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Hospice care also involves assistance for patients’ families to help them cope with what is happening and provide care and support to keep the patient at home. You can contact your local hospice organization to see if you could help with meal delivery or other services during the holidays.
Firefighters, EMS and Police – While it’s unlikely that you will be able to volunteer in one of these professions, there is still an opportunity to give. All of our emergency services are there when we need them, 24/7. There are thousands of people working every holiday to keep us safe. In doing so, many of these emergency worker are missing the holidays with their families. Something to consider is to make a meal or even just a dish of some sort and deliver it to your local fire house, police or EMS station. This toke of your thanks will be appreciated more than you can imagine.
These are just a few of the volunteering ideas that you can take part in this holiday season. If you are having trouble finding a place to volunteer, visit VolunteerMatch.org and search for volunteer opportunities in your area.
During this holiday season start a new tradition, the tradition of volunteering. HelpGuide.org puts volunteering into a great perspective “Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers. Giving time to religious organizations had the greatest impact.”