1. Feeding America
A great way to volunteer your time during the holidays is by working at a food bank. The Feeding America organization lets people help struggling families meet their food needs over the holidays. There are as many as 42 million people experiencing food insecurity in the US at any given time. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only made this problem worse. Among this group are as many as 13 million children. Feeding America is an incredible resource for finding food pantries, food banks, and soup kitchens in your area. Visit the website, enter your zip code, and find the closest organization to you and then contact them to find out how to donate your time this holiday season.
2. Red Cross
The Red Cross always needs donations of blood. This can be done any time of the year, but the holidays are a good time to do it if you’ve been intending to but haven’t found the time. The Red Cross uses the help of volunteers in a number of other ways as well. That includes helping out in emergencies such as home fires, floods, or other natural disasters. According to their website, the Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes. These efforts take thousands of volunteers to meet the needs of those affected. Their “Boots on the Ground” program gets people involved to lend a hand when it is needed most. Volunteering for the Red Cross could require physical labor, short notice, and long hours but helping those in need, especially during the holidays, is a very rewarding experience.
3. Catholic Charities
The pandemic has created the need for a large number of volunteers this year. However, it has also made meeting these needs more difficult. To keep people safe requires practicing social distancing. Catholic Charities does this in a number of ways with what they call their Socially Distanced Holiday Projects. That includes Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution, Holiday Food Bagging & Distribution, Holiday Arts and Crafts, Toys and Puzzle Sorting, Holiday Cleanup, On-Call Volunteer Roles, Coat Drive Donations, Holiday Baked Goods Drop-Off, Holiday Gift Bags, and more. Contact Catholic Charities to find out what you can do in your community.
5. Meals-on-Wheels America
Meals-on-Wheels provides meals to senior citizens who are house-bound or have mobility issues. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has raised millions of dollars to support over 600 local communities across the country. They provide healthy meals to seniors as well as much appreciated social contact. This is especially important during the holidays. Volunteering to deliver meals does not require a lot of your time and you can create a schedule that works best for you. It typically involves picking up meals from one location then delivering them directly to homes in your area. Visit the Meals on Wheels America website to learn more.
The YMCA has many volunteer opportunities. Locate the chapter in your area and find out what roles they need to fill over the holidays. Depending on your area, opportunities could include volunteering as a youth sports coach or as a referee. It could be teaching swimming lessons, fundraising, assisting with building and facility maintenance, providing administrative support. or sharing a skill in music or art or teaching a child a new language. Corporate and group opportunities may also exist at your local YMCA over the holidays. This could include collection drives for children’s books and board games as well as holiday gifts or food distribution. The Y relies on the help of over 230,000 volunteers. Find out how you can be one of them.
7. Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity helps build affordable homes for families in need and has a mission to help eliminate poverty housing within the communities it serves. Various volunteer opportunities are available, including construction, office support, helping out at special events, and at the ReStore, the organization’s home improvement thrift store. Volunteers at the Restore help clean, organize, and arrange items and are a valuable part of the effort to provide homes for those who otherwise could not afford it.
8. Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ronald McDonald House Charities provide housing, comfort, and support to families visiting their sick children in the hospital. For many families visiting sick or seriously injured children requires travel to a different city or even a different state. It can be challenging to find affordable housing in an unfamiliar city. The Ronald McDonald House provides these families with a place to stay during their visits. This work requires the help of volunteers to prepare meals and perform administrative tasks. While COVID-19 has impacted the charity’s ability to operate at pre-pandemic capacity, the organization still provides assistance to families of children in hospital care, including food and transportation.
9. Salvation Army
One sure sign of the approaching holiday season is the Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Ringers. This program solicits donations from the public in a unique and very personal way. Volunteer your time as a bell ringer and engage with the public as you spread joy and raise money for the needy. As people shop for presents for their loved ones they’ll be reminded of the good they can do for the less fortunate as well. The funds raised by bell ringers help support the organization throughout the year.