The holiday season sparks generosity and gratefulness in many people. While sometimes daily life gets in the way of volunteering as often as we’d like, the holidays are a great time to give back to the community. Whether you’re looking for a one-time opportunity or a way to get involved for the long-term, we’ve got some suggestions to get you started.
01 – FOOD DRIVE
Set out a bin at work or school to collect non-perishable items to stock the shelves at a food bank or homeless shelter.
02 – DONATE TO A NURSING HOME
Give the gift of your time to seniors who may not have family nearby or donate items such as blankets, pillows, lotion, nail polish or other items.
03 – MEAL DELIVERY
Donate your time to volunteer with an organization that delivers meals to the elderly or those in need such as Meals on Wheels through ElderCare.
04 – PET SHELTER OR PET RESCUE
Love animals? Get involved with a local pet shelter or rescue. They need volunteers to help with cleaning as well as walking and playing with the animals. They also are in need of donations such as pet food, toys, blankets and towels.
BONUS Many rescues allow child volunteers with their parents.
05 – DONATE BLOOD
There’s always a need for blood and blood products. If you are able, consider blood donation.
BONUS Some blood banks offer free COVID antibody testing with donation.
06 – PICK UP LITTER
This is an easy one that requires no coordination with an agency! Grab a trash bag and some gloves and clean up your neighborhood or a nearby area.
SAFETY TIP Make sure to wear bright and reflective clothing, stay away from the road and stick to safe areas. Wear heavy duty gloves to protect hands from sharp objects.
07 – ADOPT A CHILD OR FAMILY FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Help bring holiday joy to all families by adopting a child or family and providing gifts for the holidays. Organizations like the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program provide opportunities to put gifts in the hands of happy children.
08 – SERVE FOOD AT A HOMELESS SHELTER
Volunteer to serve a meal (or several) at a local homeless shelter. Consider chatting with some of the recipients for a greater understanding of homelessness.
09 – SEND CARE PACKAGES TO SOLDIERS OVERSEAS
Deployed soldiers may not be able to spend the holidays with their families and a care package would be a welcome surprise! Military.com lists several reputable organizations that will assist sending packages to our soldiers.
10 – TAKE A MEAL TO LOCAL HOSPITAL WORKERS, POLICE STATIONS OR FIRE STATIONS
Frontline workers have been working extra hard throughout the pandemic. Bringing a meal to local hospital workers or first responders is a great way to say thank you for their tireless work in keeping our community safe and healthy. Call your local hospital or station first to coordinate logistics.
11 – DONATE BOOKS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS, LIBRARIES, CANCER CENTERS OR TAKE A BOOK, LEAVE A BOOK DROP BOXES
Finished your latest novel and ready to pass it along? Have children’s books that your kids have outgrown but are still in good condition? Pass your books on to the next reader. Many schools and libraries will accept gently used books. Other places such as radiation and chemotherapy centers often have a library available for patients and visitors to read while they’re waiting. There are also several “Take a Book, Leave a Book” donation boxes around town. These are intended to donate books you no longer need but take a book as well.
12 – DONATE SUPPLIES
There are many organizations that rely on donations to support their mission. Whether you have gently used clothing, toiletries or other items, there are organizations who would be grateful for the donations. Here are a few options:
• HealthStreet Clothing, toiletry and personal care items
• Child Advocacy Center Clothing, books, toys or snacks
• Grace Marketplace and St. Francis House Clothing, toiletries, blankets and pillows
13 – VOLUNTEER AS A MENTOR WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS
Want to give back in a longer term capacity? Consider becoming a “Big” for a youth in the community and become a positive role model. Visit bbbsmidflorida.org to find out more.
Wherever your heart leads you this season, there are many opportunities to help others in our community and beyond. Before visiting any organizations or showing up with donations, call or check their website to see the latest in pandemic protocol and if there are any limited restrictions.