“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time they have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew
The holidays and winter tend to shine a light on the needs of those less fortunate, homeless, depressed, and lonely more than usual. There are many simple Done in a Day projects that can change lives in our communities. Acts of kindness are the best gift you can give during the holiday season!
Get Crafty – Put activity kits together for sick children at your local pediatric hospital or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Kits can be simple, colored pencils, crayons, and a coloring book, for a little waiting room fun. Make something for children in need, the troops, seniors, and those with terminal illnesses by connecting with opportunities through the online site Giving Artfully. Projects include knit blankets, handmade cards, and more. Need by Social Issue — Giving Artfully
Deliver Care Packages and Holiday Blessing Bags – Create holiday care packages of snacks and bottled water to hand out to homeless people, shelters, and food banks. Contact a soup kitchen or other hot meal service in your city. These centers may need extra help on the holidays, and they are likely to need day-to-day volunteers as well. Bring a meal to a local police/fire station/EMT/hospital (Especially during third shift!) Remember troops overseas. Organizations like Operation Shoebox offer tips on how to get your packages together.
Be a Mentor – Reach out and read holiday stories at events and for children in the community. Contact your local public library to see if the staff needs volunteers to read to children. Check in books or complete administrative tasks. Drop off holiday books to the local Little Free Libraries too. These small outdoor library boxes are full of books that you can take for free.
Decorate the town or local nursing home – Spread some holiday cheer! Offer to plant in and decorate public areas or spend a day cleaning up the area or local park. Local nurseries can be a source of donations. Donate your gently worn shoes – organizations such as Soles for Souls provide footwear to people around the world.
Focus on health – Cook a healthy meal for the local police officers, firefighters, or nursing home residents. Assist girls and women throughout the world without access to personal products by donating feminine hygiene kits locally or through organizations like Days for Girls. Focus on your personal health too! Download an app like Charity Miles to earn money for great causes just by going on your morning jog or walking the dog. Also, check out sites such as active.com for a list of charity runs in your area.
Additional ideas: Buy in Bulk or Shop Until you Drop! Next time you find a deal or a buy one, get one free article of clothing or small appliance, donate it to the local Goodwill or shelter. Donate your loose change. Clean out your children’s rooms and donate toys and stuffed animals. First responders can give them to children affected by fires, accidents, etc. Organizations like SAFE — Stuffed Animals for Emergencies — also accept these donations.
Remember to Elevate Women and Girls and Advocate for Children this winter!
Karen Throckmorton, GFWC-NC 1st Vice President
Pam Mediano, GFWC-NC Dean of Junior Community Service Programs