The holidays are a great time to give back and volunteer. Most everyone thinks so, and because of that, shelters and soup kitchens tend to be so overloaded with volunteers and donations. Sometimes they don’t even take sign-ups unless it’s months in advance because they fill up so quickly! So if you want to find a meaningful way to give back and volunteer during the holidays, you may have to get creative. Here are some ideas of how you can still make an impact!
1. Make baked goods for those serving your community.
You can bring them to the nearest animal shelter, police station, or fire station for their staff to enjoy. This personal touch is so appreciated, especially for people who are working late and are away from their families during the holidays because they are there serving their communities!
2. Create cards for patients in a children’s hospital.
Call your local hospital and ask if you can make “Get Well Soon” cards for the children in the pediatric wing. Make sure to find out how many kids there are so that each kid can receive a card! You could even host a card-making party with your friends to make a bunch.
3. Send mail to those incarcerated at your local jail.
Similar to the last one, call your local jail or prison and ask if you can make “Happy Holiday” cards for those incarcerated. People often forget about this population, and making a card for them during the holidays can really mean a lot. Being mindful of different cultures and religions when making the cards is really appreciated.
4. Design thank you posters for first responders.
You can create large posters that say “Happy Holidays” or that thank first responders and place them around your city. There have been so many natural disasters lately from hurricanes to fires, and our first responders have done an amazing job at keeping us safe. Attention to all you creative artists and hand letterers! This one’s for you!
5. Visit the elderly at assisted living facilities.
You can provide company to the residents by helping host dances, putting on game or bingo nights, organizing holiday parties, or even assisting residents with household tasks. Staying social has been found to improve health and decrease anxiety. When you visit these facilities and interact with the residents, it can be a meaningful experience for the both of you!
Volunteering and giving back during the holidays is a great way to get your foot in the door for this type of work. The truth of the matter is, though, that volunteering and donations are needed all year round. Once you get a taste of what it’s like to volunteer, think about becoming a regular, year-round, volunteer through a local organization in your community. United Way and the International Rescue Committee are great places to start! They all have affiliates or offices around the US, and can always use help sorting and serving food, mentoring youth, or helping immigrant families adjust to life in the US. Think about your skills and interests, and what type of volunteer opportunity you would like to be a part of even after the holidays are over.
Photos by: Eun Creative