Every year when the holiday season rolls around I find myself reflecting on the many blessings in my life and what I can do to honor them. While a charitable heart is good year round [a big shout out to my local Junior League for getting me out volunteering in the community] I find that this time of year brings an urge to serve my community. Monetary contributions are great [and non-profits rely on them], but the giving of your talents, time, food, and possessions are needed just as much. So this holiday season get out in to your community and pay-it-forward; giving your time and serving will bring you tremendous joy.
Deliver Meals >> many seniors live alone which can result in feelings of isolation and depression – especially during the holiday season. Connect with your local Meals on Wheels program to deliver not only a nutritious meal to a senior or person with disabilities, but also a smile to brighten their day. Deliveries are family friendly and if you are unable to deliver meals, many of the local programs offer alternate volunteer opportunities such as preparing and packaging meals.
Assist Seniors >> create a volunteer account on Elder Helpers and lend a helping hand to a senior needing assistance. You can offer a range of everyday services from grocery shopping to cleaning to helping in the kitchen. Providing your services is a great way to support homebound seniors.
Organize A Clean Up >> no one likes filth so take pride in your communities appearance and organize a clean up day for your local beach, park, river, or community space. If you’d like to get involved on a larger scale consider volunteering through a local organization or a Keep America Beautiful affiliate. To participate in ocean clean ups visit Ocean Conservancy and for river clean ups visit the National River Cleanup.
Serve Soup Kitchen Meals >> over 48.8 million people in the United States face hunger on a daily basis. Connect with your local Salvation Army to learn how you can assist in serving meals to individuals and families down on their luck. The Salvation Army has many other volunteer opportunities too!
Clean Out Your Pantry >> we all have cans of food that never seem to get used up, instead of shoving them back in to the darkness donate your unused goods to your local food bank. Feeding America can connect you with a food bank in your area. Consider collecting food items from neighbors, family & friends to bring with you as well.
image via Salvation Army Orlando
Donate Books >> I’ll let you in on a little secret, most teachers are responsible for building their own classroom libraries. This year when ordering books for your child buy a few extras and donate them to a classroom in need. Interested in holding a book drive? Reader To Reader can assist in holding a book drive and sending your donations to a public school in need.
Become A Secret Santa >>the holidays can be hard for struggling families with children and donating a gift to a child who would otherwise go without can brighten their holiday. Many community churches can provide you with a list of items needed for families in your area. You can even make gathering items fun by hosting a holiday party and asking guests to each bring an item on the list.
Send Holiday Cheer >> with so many service men and women deployed over the holidays don’t under estimate the power of a heartfelt holiday card. Gather your friends for a card making party and send some holiday cheer to brighten a soldier’s spirits . The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is conducted by local Red Cross offices, visit their website for participation information and locations. Bonus tip: ask friends and family for addresses on where to send cards to soldiers actively serving from your community.
Small Acts of Kindness >> generosity and kindness doesn’t always have to equate to grand gestures. This holiday season, adopt a pay-it-forward attitude and perform small acts of kindness – do a chore for someone in your family or yard work for a neighbor, pay for a strangers morning coffee, offer your babysitting services to parents that need a night out [or in need of some extra time to simply get things done], or create and distribute toiletry bags for the homeless.
Please please please remember that the season of giving extends well beyond the holidays. It’s important to volunteer on non-holidays too, this is when community shelters and organizations need your support the most! Set aside a few hours each month to give back, Volunteer Match will connect you with a cause you care about.
Pay it forward friends!
How are you getting involved with your community? I’d love to hear in the comments below!