Healthy Holiday Volunteer Ideas for Giving Back

Welcome to December, which means tis’ the season to give. Sure, you can make a digital donation online or buy a bunch of gifts at your local mall to drop off at your local hospital or homeless shelter—but isn’t it more rewarding for you and those you’re helping to get hands-on with your volunteer and charity work?

Here are eight amazing, creative, and healthy ways that you can give back to your favorite charity, local food bank, or support organizations this holiday season…


1. Support Senior’s Needs

As we age, simple tasks, ones we took for granted in our younger years, can suddenly become difficult or altogether impossible. So a senior some love this holiday season by letting them know they are not forgotten.

Become an elder helper when you offer up a list of everyday tasks that you can help a homebound senior with. Bring the whole dang family along to aid with raking leaves, shoveling snow and clearing walkways, offering rides, grocery shopping, or even lending a hand with holiday baking and meal preparation.

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2. Give the Gift of Blood

If you really want to get hands on…or arms on in this case, really give an important part of yourself when you give blood to your local blood donation center. According to the American Red Cross, giving just one pint of blood can save as many as 3 lives!

And blood donation centers require more than just your blood. You can stick around and help serve cookies and juice, book appointments, pass out information, manage donors as they arrive at the center, and more—even if you’re scared of getting the actual needle, you’re time is still needed and appreciated.


3. Dog Days of Charity Work

It’s a dog’s life to want to please others. So take a cue from your precious pooch and share the inspiration of pet ownership with others. Many organized charity walks and runs welcome participants to bring a pet along for the trot.

Plus, the presence of a furry friend often raises the spirits of others. You dress up as Santa and volunteer with your pooch (dressed as an elf or reindeer). Visit your local children’s hospital or senior’s home (with permission) to bring some holiday cheer to those who may feel lonely and miss their own pets.


4. Thank a Soldier

Men and women who have served, and currently serve, in our military deserve gratitude beyond Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day in Canada). Spread some thanks in time for the holidays by sending a care package to soldiers and military personnel stationed far from home.

Take the time to write a heartfelt note in thanks and remembrance. Reach out to non-profits who organize the shipping of care packages to soldiers and veterans (i.e., Operation Gratitude). You can find many others via a quick, geographically targeted Google search.


5. Cook Up Some Thanks

Preparing food is one of the many ways that we can show love and gratitude to others. Considering that many folks can’t cook for themselves during the holidays—due to a lack of shelter, illness, advanced age or a disability—paying it forward with a home-cooked meal is a grand gift from the heart.

Collaborate with a local food delivery organization and bring the whole family to volunteer at your local soup kitchen. Or prepare comforting, wholesome meal kits for those who can’t shop or cook for themselves. If you’re not a gourmet, you can always volunteer to deliver meals.


6. Donate Time and Mentorship

We all have a personal and specialize set of skills that could benefit someone else. Maybe you’re a whiz with math or a talent with taxes. Perhaps you write a wicked resume or cover letter or can help with college applications.

Make your community and those living it in feel empowered by donating your time to mentoring local school children, college students, reading to seniors, or by conversing with recent immigrants in a new language. Trust me; your community has a mentoring program eager for your skill set!


7. Show Some Animal Love

Like the Grinch, my heart expands five times whenever I’m in the presence of a furry feline or a perky pooch. That’s why I donate my time to my local animal shelter and humane society by helping feed, clean, walk, play with and rub down animals in need of forever homes.

You local animal shelter or animal rescue is always in need of animal-loving volunteers. You can even take in a stray to foster over the holiday season and make a difference in the life of a cat, dog, bunny, hamster, or bird in need.


8. Built a Home Sweet Home

Grab a hammer and apply your construction or engineering knowledge in your own community. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are always looking for volunteers to help build and furnish homes for those in need.

Giving the gift of a clean, safe, and warm forever home to a family in need will be a valuable learning experience for your own children. If you aren’t handy with a hammer, donate furniture, appliances, clothing, linens, or offer up temporary space in your own home to a family in need or one arriving as new residents in your country or city.


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