December 9, 2011

Why You Should Volunteer This Holiday Season

Volunteering is something people often do during the holiday season. This is probably because the “spirit” of the holidays is giving, and volunteering certainly involves giving – giving of your time, talents, and abilities. But why should you do it, and where? Here are some ideas.

Some Reasons for Volunteering

* People are in need! Volunteering meets a need, and this is a practical reason for giving your time to help.

* It builds you up as a person – you feel good about yourself if you’ve volunteered your time.

* Volunteering sets an example for those around you. Your friends and family may be inspired to volunteer themselves as they see your example.

* When you volunteer, it gives more meaning to the holiday season. It’s not all about commercialism and “gimme gimme” anymore.

Where to Volunteer

As you consider where to give your time, bear in mind that it is wise to choose a cause that means something to you. This will help keep you motivated, and will mean more to you spiritually and personally. Here are some possibilities.

1. Nursing homes

There are so many lonely people in nursing homes. Even those who have family members to visit them may not remember from one day to another – or even moment by moment – who has been to see them. Residents may feel lonely even if their family just visited them a little while ago. So taking some time to visit and bring an object to help residents recall your visit – a card, ornament, etc. – may be just the thing to help.

Not all nursing home residents have trouble remembering. Others just enjoy a visit and will remember it fondly.

Nursing home staff may need help, too, such as serving food or decorating, or help with special activities for the residents.

2. Food charities

Nearly all communities have food charities, whether it’s your local church’s food bank or a soup kitchen. When it comes to food charities, you can volunteer in several ways.

* Donate food to local food banks or pantries. Call ahead to find out what food the pantry needs at that time.

* Donate money to help buy food.

* Donate time and your vehicle to make deliveries to those who need food but can’t get out to pick it up (shut-ins).

* Help prepare food baskets and packages on location.

3. Homeless shelters

Homeless shelters sometimes rely on volunteer help to stay open and functioning. Serving food, decorating, and preparing food are just some of the ways you can help out at a homeless shelter. There may also be a need for volunteers to clean sleeping and eating areas. For a personal touch, you could bring cards to pass out to residents as they come in or pick up their meals.

4. After school programs

Volunteers are often needed to help with after school programs. Find out what programs your local schools offer, and call to see if they need help. You could also volunteer to do your own after school program.

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Alexis Rodrigo