The holiday season is the peak time for volunteerism, as families, friends, and coworkers make giving back a part of their winter traditions. People often feel more thankful and joyous during the holidays, which compels many to contribute to their communities and help those less fortunate than themselves. From the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, charitable organizations increase their services and Americans donate their time and goods at rates higher than any other point of the year. But after New Year’s these figures taper off dramatically. Volunteering should be a year-round habit, not simply a once-a-year event. Consider these options for serving your community year-round:
- Donate to Food Banks: During the holidays, food drives are easy to come by. Local grocery stores take donations, schools host food drives, and local food banks encourage donations of holiday staples like turkey and pies. But even after Christmas dinner is complete, the need for food remains. Purchase canned and nonperishable food and drop it off at local food banks on a monthly, perhaps even a biweekly, basis.
- Clothing Drives: Schools, churches, homeless shelters, and others often host clothing drives around the holidays, especially in areas subject to the bitter cold of winter. Make this a year-round habit by organizing your own clothing drive, donating quality items you no longer use to local charities, or even purchasing clothes on sale and donating to those in need.
- Hospital & Nursing Home Volunteers: As one would expect, people living in nursing homes or bedridden in hospitals feel lonely. A few minutes of your time can make someone’s day by providing them with companionship and making them feel less alone. If you really hit it off with residents, you might even become a consistent figure in their lives and form a meaningful connection. Contact your local hospital or nursing home to determine whether or not they accept volunteers and what the process looks like.
- Clean Up!: Whether you live in a metropolis or an idyllic beach town, there is bound to be litter somewhere. Not only can trash be visually unappealing, but it can also be harmful to the natural environment. Join organizations committed to keeping areas clean or create your own cleaning cohort with friends and neighbors.
- Serve as a Mentor: Children are our future and growing up is tough. With minor challenges like homework to major life choices like where to go to college, children are always in need of guidance and advice. Public schools and youth organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, are great places to start. Helping children is a rewarding and hugely impactful act of service.
These are five of the many ways you can give back to your community. Through a quick google search, you can find countless ways to get involved and even search for opportunities tailored to your specific interests (animals, environment, elderly citizens, etc.). Better yourself by bettering your community. Volunteer.