This year, we want the kids to go with us to give of our time and love to others this holiday season.
We have been so blessed over the last couple years — yes, even with the COVID crisis — and we want to pay it forward, if you will, to those in need.
But, where do you even start to look for volunteer opportunities during the holidays?
Don’t worry — we got you!! We have compiled a list of places to go, and things to do, to help others during this holiday season (and really, all during the year).
Volunteer Opportunities To Help Those In Need This Holiday Season
Christmas Caroling At A Retirement Home – They absolutely love it! Sometimes, people in homes are left and totally forgotten. These people love to spend time with others, and enjoy listening to the Christmas Carols — and oftentimes singing along. Call before you just show up. Set a special time to go there with a group and sing!
Chili For Veterans – I volunteered on a soup team at a veterans home, and you know what I learned? These (mostly) guys don’t get the luxury of chili very often, and they LOVE it!! Break out your crockpot, and all the fixin’s, and take them a batch or two of chili. Call before you just show up. Make sure it fits their eating schedule and needs.
Volunteer At A Hospital – Hospitals can ALWAYS use volunteers, but they can use even more during the holidays. Contact your local hospital and see what volunteer opportunities they have available.
Christmas Party At A Homeless Shelter – Especially a shelter that has a lot of kids. Plan a craft, take some cookies and punch, decorations, and lots of smiles. They will love having a time of celebration that they may not usually get to take part in. Call before you just show up. Set a time and place for your party with the people that run the shelter.
Toys For Tots – Put on by the Marines, Toys For Tots is already a holiday tradition for many. You just buy some new toys, and drop them off in the toy collection boxes. To find a drop box near you, simply click HERE.
Volunteer With the Salvation Army – You know all those santa-hat-wearing bell ringers outside some of your local stores? What about those Walmart trees full of names of children in need? That’s the Salvation Army. You can also give financially, or call to see if you can help in their collection center.
Bake Cookies For First Responders – You are probably making batch after batch of holiday cookies anyway. Wrap some of those cookies up in a nice Christmas container, and take them to your local firehouse, police station, or local paramedics.
Blessing Bags – This can be so many different things. I like to put new jewelry in tulle bags, and hand them out to random people during the holiday season — people who are stuck working the holiday, the retail worker who just had to deal with a harsh customer, the person at the drive-thru window — WHOEVER! I always say, “Have a blessed Christmas.” And, I always get a thankful smile.
Buy Someone’s Groceries – I mean randomly pay for that person in line ahead of you at the store. I had someone do this for me, at a time when I was really struggling, and it gave me all the feels. You can pay for someone that you see struggling at the checkout line, or just pay for that person who is in front of you. Sure, keeping that extra money makes you feel secure, but you will feel that Christmas Joy when you help out someone who might need it!
Wrap Gifts With The Proceeds Going To Charity – You can ask a local store if you can set up a table in their establishment, you can wrap at home — getting gifts to wrap by word of mouth, you can even get all fancy and make a website telling people what you are doing. Set a price per gift, and donate that money to a charity that really needs it.
Volunteer At The Animal Shelter – Animal shelters can always use someone to feed and walk the dogs. You might be able to go in and play with the dogs. You can even donate at some Shelters — they take donations of food, towels, and other pet supplies. Call before you show up, and see what volunteer activities are needed.
Hygiene Bags — A lot of times, these are done through homeless shelters, the Salvation Army, or some other local organization. They basically tell you what items to put in a gallon size Ziploc bag (usually things like toothbrushes, deodorant, socks, etc.), and then the bags get handed out to the homeless.
Gift Bags Or Blankets For Cancer Patients – I have had the unfortunate experience of spending some time in an infusion center. It is such a luxury and a blessing to receive a gift bag (filled with lip balm, pens, journals, etc) or a warm blanket while you are having to go through the difficulty of chemo.
Donate Gently Used Books – You can donate to places like schools, daycares, homeless shelters, the YMCA, your local library, and even the Salvation Army. They will get those books into the hands of a kid who will love and appreciate a book.
Send Christmas Cards To People Who Serve In The Military – Oftentimes, our military is forgotten about during the holiday season. Imagine how much joy it will bring a person in uniform to receive a little holiday spirit in the form of a Christmas card.
Offer To Babysit – Is there a single mom who could use a break this holiday season? Do you know someone with kids, who is just weary? Offer to babysit while they get away — maybe they can go get their Christmas shopping done.
Buy Dinner For A Friend In Need – We all know someone who could use a little break or a little help this holiday season. Call them up and let them know you are going to bring them dinner!! You can get pizza, sub sandwiches, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches — the sky’s the limit!! Ask them what they like, and provide them with a meal.
Rake Leaves For A Neighbor – Maybe you have an elderly neighbor, a sick neighbor, a single mom neighbor, or a neighbor that is just fine, but you want to help them by raking leaves. It doesn’t cost you anything but a little time, and that Christmas joy will be abundant in your life and the life of your neighbor.
Collect School Supplies For Teachers – Teachers get an influx of supplies at the beginning of the year. But, what happens when their supply dwindles? They are forced to use their own money to buy supplies. Surprise a teacher with a box full of school supplies. You KNOW they will appreciate it.
Sponsor A Family – Is there a family that you know needs a little extra love and TLC this holiday season? Maybe one of the parents has lost a job. Maybe someone in the family is sick. Maybe they are just struggling to make ends meet. Surprise them with a mini Christmas. Get gifts for everyone, maybe stuff to make a Christmas meal, and perhaps you can even get them a Christmas tree!!
Volunteer At Hospice – It is very important that you call before you show up at a Hospice House. Sometimes they are very selective with who they let in the doors due to the delicate nature of the situation. They might need someone to sit with the patients, someone to hand dinners out, or maybe just to go room to room spreading a smile and a little holiday cheer.
Take Treats To Nurses At The Hospital – These nurses work long hard hours all year long. Surprise the nurses with a box of cookies or tin of popcorn. They will appreciate the gesture of the holiday season.
Volunteer With Inmates – This one can be a little tricky. Make sure you call to find out what opportunities are available. A lot of times, they need help with education or religious efforts.
Volunteer At A Senior Center – Different from a retirement or senior home, a senior center is where elderly people go to hang out or do fun activities together. They can ALWAYS use volunteers to do many different things from answering phones, to helping out with activities, or even to just talk with the seniors. Once again, call before you just show up.