Giving gifts is a traditional part of the holiday season in many families, and the tradition of giving becomes even more meaningful when it extends beyond your family. Whether you want to give things to an organization or volunteer your time to something that helps others, your gifting can extend out into the community. It’s a beautiful way to create positive feelings. It can also help teach your children about the value of volunteering when you join them to do things that benefit the community. Browse through these ideas on how to volunteer and give back to your community to find an idea that works for you and your family.
Holding or donating to a coat drive puts warm outerwear on the people in your community who need it most. Men, women, and children who can’t afford a coat are given the gift of warmth and comfort. You can organize a coat drive by establishing a place for others to donate warm winter coats or you can collect new and gently used coats to deliver to a coat drive. Additionally, you can volunteer to be the person who distributes the coats to the people who need them.
Volunteering to host a winter footwear collection for the needy in your area offers a similar experience to the winter coat drive mentioned above. The principle is similar. The goal is to provide warmth and protection from the elements to people who can’t afford proper winter footwear to keep their feet warm and dry. This type of drive can be done by setting up a donation box at a local business or school. Then, people who need warm footwear and can’t afford it can stop by or request delivery from a volunteer if they have no way to get out.
A hat and mitten tree is an especially easy type of volunteering that can make a big impact on people’s lives. It’s easy to set up and it makes it easy for others to make donations. Set up a Christmas tree and add a few ornaments and clothespins, along with a sign explaining that the tree is for donating winter accessories and the intended recipients, such as children at a particular school or residents at a local nursing home. Then, people can use the clothespins to hang warm hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves on the tree. At the end of the collection period, drop all the donated accessories in a large box and deliver it to the destination.
Adopting a family that’s had a rough year is a way to make life feel a little brighter for someone who has been struggling. This type of project can be done by one person or as a shared project for an organization. Typically, you can contact a newspaper or local service agency to get a list of family members and things that they want or need, such as special toys, clothing sizes, and household items. Then, the collected items can be delivered at a prearranged time or dropped off as a surprise.
Getting involved with a food drive is another easy way to volunteer during the holiday season. For this type of volunteering, large boxes or storage baskets are typically set up near grocery store doors so people can easily drop off non-perishable items. Then, the food is collected and organized into boxes. Recipients can either come pick up the boxes, or volunteers can deliver the boxes to people who aren’t able to get out.
To volunteer for a few hours, serving a meal at a church or other facility that helps the needy is a way to give back to your community. This type of volunteering fulfills both physical and emotional needs, too. The science of scent, in relation to food, means the fragrance of hot food can trigger positive memories that offer emotional comfort to recipients while the food you serve offers sustenance. Add a warm smile to that, and your volunteering time becomes deeply meaningful and caring.
Sometimes, the gift of your time is the thing people need the most, and you can make it the core of your volunteer efforts. Check with local nursing homes and hospitals to see if visitation is allowed, then pack a canvas tote bag or backpack with some books or playing cards and go spend time with people who can’t get out during the holidays. However, if visitation is banned, see if video chatting with residents or patients is an option.
Many of these ideas offer more than one meaningful way to volunteer, which makes it even easier to get involved and feel great about your contributions. For example, with the coat drive, footwear collection, food drive, and hat and mitten tree, you can volunteer your time to manage the event, or you can volunteer to give items that add value to the recipients' lives.