The holidays are the perfect time to connect with family and friends and enjoy each other’s company while doing something good. A new tradition is blossoming all over the country as loved ones set out together to share their blessings with those less fortunate through holiday volunteer opportunities.
As Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and so many other holidays approach, think about what your family can do to give back. This time of year presents ample opportunities to bring a smile to someone’s face with fun, fulfilling gestures that will overwhelm your heart with the joy of the season. When you get the family together to share a little love—while spreading joy and cheer—it’s a true pleasure to volunteer for the holidays.
Below are a few easy and affordable ideas on how to give the gift of generosity and start volunteering with the whole family.
1. Share the Ingredient of Love
It’s no secret that a good way to reach someone’s heart is through his stomach. Food banks and soup kitchens are always in need of volunteers to help them with everything from sorting donations, to distributing non-perishable food, to educating communities on the resources available to them. Many homeless shelters are also in need of folks to help them serve hot meals throughout the fall and winter, especially during the holidays. FeedingAmerica.org is a great site that connects you to organizations within your community.
If you’re looking for something even more personal, consider making a treat for a senior neighbor who may have restricted mobility. Nothing says “love” quite like healthy holiday snacks or a plate of delicious holiday cookies.
2. Create and Decorate
If your family is more on the artistic side, consider spending some time at a nursing home to help them decorate for the holidays. While staff may already have things covered when it comes to community spaces, residents may need a helping hand adding some holiday cheer to their own rooms. Your family can volunteer to help with everything from putting up a Christmas tree to stringing lights across a window to covering existing artwork in wrapping paper so it resembles festive presents.
Professional gift-wrapping services can be expensive, but budget stores often have everything you need for a bargain. Bring along some extra bows and bags to the nursing home, and ask if anyone needs a hand wrapping presents.
3. Gifting and Giving
The holidays are often associated with giving gifts, but many families don’t have money to dedicate to filling stockings and placing presents under the tree. Teach your children that it’s truly better to give than receive by adopting a family in need. These anonymous programs are available on a national or local level. The best way to connect with a family in need nearby is to do an internet search for “Adopt-a-Family.”
You can also support the troops this holiday season by sending members of the military heartfelt gifts that will brighten their day. The USO Wishbook is full of great options, like sponsoring a game night, paying for a phone call home, and more, to choose from. Sit down with your kids and look through the options together to get the whole family involved.
4. Lend a Helping Hand
Holiday volunteer opportunities don’t need to be big events. Simply helping out around the neighborhood can be the most meaningful gift of all. Shoveling neighbors’ walks, decorating their porches, or even volunteering to take a senior citizen’s dog for a walk on a cold winter day are all great ways to spread holiday cheer right in your own community.
When you volunteer for the holidays, it becomes clear that the most important gifts of all are friends, family, and sharing your good fortune with the world around you. What are some of your favorite holiday volunteer opportunities? Share your traditions with a #GoodMatters tweet!
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom’s of Maine.