Great Places for Volunteering at Christmas. Be a Volunteer
Another way to give at Christmas
At Christmas many of us overspend including on presents to give to friends, colleagues and loved ones but what about giving your time to help others?
For those readers who would like to give something back to their community and volunteer to help those in need at Christmas there are many places where your help would be greatly appreciated.
This article has some general ideas for volunteering during the Christmas period and on Christmas Day but research online and locally for local options.
In the run up to Christmas
it takes a very special person to volunteer Christmas Day, though many of us could spare an odd hour or two to help others If we tried.
However, in the run up to Christmas there are also many ways you can help others.
- Volunteer to help out at a local food-bank. You never know this could lead to a year round commitment. Food-banks in England are not open over the Christmas period so check the best time to donate your time or groceries
- Donate goods or cash to a local food-bank. Local food-banks often run short of basics such as long-life milk so it is a good idea to ask what they need. But they will gratefully accept most donations. Most do not accept alcohol. Remember some people who use food-banks have no cooking facilities and in some cases no gas or electricity. Consider giving instant soups, pot noodles, tins of fish such as tuna and sardines, biscuits, crackers, tea and coffee, bottle drinks, toiletries including sanitary wear and soap. The first time we donated I thought hard about what would be nutritious and easy to cook not even considering that some people may only have access to an electric kettle and others even less
- We donate to the local food-bank by visiting it but you can leave goods as a donation at various supermarkets. Look out for the donation bins
- Clear out your unwanted goods and clothes to make way for Christmas gifts. Donate them to a charity or charity shop or sell on and donate the money to a worthy cause
- Help genuine homeless people living on the streets. It is a tragedy that some people are left sleeping in the cold on our streets anytime of year but especially over Christmas. Some rough sleepers are happy just to receive a smile from you and a “how are you doing“but you could buy cheap gloves, socks and hats and give them out to rough sleepers
A twinkling Christmas Tree looks great but the real meaning of Christmas is much more
The real meaning of Christmas
Christmas means many things to many people but do you really believe that the real meaning of Christmas is spending lots of money, overeating, getting drunk, having lots of expensive presents under a huge overly decorated Christmas Tree and dressing up to go to as many parties as possible?
You may enjoy all or some of the above but the Christmas story surely is more philanthropic?
On the big day itself
Your local hospital will probably be glad of some help at Christmas. Volunteers sometimes help with serving food, clearing the dishes, answering the phones and more.
The children’s wards of hospitals are usually inundated with offers of help but what about helping on wards that have elderly people as patients?
Older people often have few living relatives and friends and are sometimes abandoned at Christmas by what family they do have.
Contact your local hospital and see how you can help.
In these days of high incidence of crime volunteers will need to be vetted but any help will be greatly appreciated.
You could simply offer some time, company and conversation or perhaps take some treats to the ward.
Such gifts would need to be checked as safe of course. Older patients in hospital may be bored silly at Christmas and most of them would probably love some extra visitors. Check out your local retirement and nursing homes too.
Homeless shelters quite simply offer a person life at Christmas. For those that live on the streets winter is a cruel season and it an also be deadly.
A homeless shelter may offer warmth, food and perhaps even a bed. Volunteers help serve food, clear up and so much more. On Christmas Day volunteers will keep such shelters manned.
At Christmas time animal shelters are overflowing with unwanted and abandoned pets. The staff who work tirelessly at such rescue centres also have families and friends who they want to share a little time with at Christmas. Volunteers can help the staff enjoy a break and may also benefit the animals. Volunteers walk dogs, feed the animals, help to groom the animals, bathe them and more.
Volunteering in your neighbourhood
There are many ways that you can help others by volunteering your services in your local neighbourhood-
- Try offering to be the driver. You may have elderly or infirm neighbours who want to visit a relative in hospital or simply go to church. With no public transport on Christmas Day your offer could be a much appreciated
- Invite an extra guest for Christmas dinner. If you have a lonely neighbour who you know will be spending Christmas alone invite them to join you and your family for Christmas dinner. If they want to stay home offer to send over a serving of the Christmas dinner you have made
- Volunteer to clear any icy paths for those neighbours who are less able.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army help many people around the World. They are sure to be grateful, of any help that you can offer and may be able to utilize you in various ways.
Volunteering to bring some good, old-fashioned Christmas cheer to others on Christmas Day is a great idea.
When you look at being a volunteer you will find that there are so many ways you can help someone experience the real meaning of Christmas and along the way you may discover the real you.
Be a Volunteer
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What about you?
Would you help others on Christmas Day?
© 2009 Ethel Smith