As dedicated as regular volunteers are, the demands of a busy holiday season sometimes interfere with their desire and intentions of volunteering. It’s not too late for you to help by taking up some of the slack. Volunteering is a great opportunity for a family to spread some of the Christmas joy to those less fortunate. What a wonderful lesson to share with your children!
1. Visit a local nursing home
Often, there are seniors in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities who would love to have visitors over the holidays. Having someone willing to spend an hour just listening to their stories is a wonderful gift they will truly appreciate. And what a gift it is for children who can’t be with their own grandparents this holiday season! Bringing a handmade card, plant, or other small gift is an added bonus that will remind them of your visit long after the holiday season.
2. Visit hospital patients on Christmas
Patients in the hospital over the holidays might appreciate some company on Christmas DayÐÐparticularly if they’re new in town or otherwise without regular visitors. Who knows, you just might end up with a new friend as a result of your kindness. Be sure to contact the hospital’s patient coordinator beforehand.
3. Sing carols at a nursing home
If your family or friends are musically inclined, many nursing homes (and the residents!) also welcome carolers around this season; as well as some hospitals. Call ahead of time just to be sure.
4. Volunteer at the Elderhaus
Elderhaus provides veterans and the elderly with daycare activities that stimulate their minds and keep them active. You, and your family, can volunteer to serve meals or help with craft activities.
5. Donate food and volunteer at homeless shelters
Veteran and homeless shelters can always use help with feeding their residentsÐÐparticularly at this busy time of the year. Besides donating food and other supplies, volunteers are needed to help prep and cook all of that food, as well as serving and cleaning up afterwards.
6. Lend a hand at a food bank
Food banks also need extra hands during this busy season. Consider it an opportunity to serve those less fortunate while making some wonderful, heartwarming memories of your own.
7. Become a driver for Second Helpings
Second Helpings drivers pick up donated food from grocery stores, bakeries, and restaurants throughout the community and deliver them to the Good Shepherd Center. As the Center’s site says: “Without these amazing drivers, we have no food!”
8. Collect winter gear from family and friends for a local shelter
Volunteer to collect extra coats, hats, gloves and other warm winter wear from family, friends and coworkers and drop them off at a shelter. Those you collect from will probably appreciate your help making extra room in their closets and the residents will definitely appreciate starting off the New Year with something warm to wear.
9. Start a neighborhood food drive
Start a neighborhood food drive and donate the proceeds to a food bank. If you take plenty of photos of the donors and the piles of donated items, the food bank will probably enjoy sharing them on their social media sites. Who knowsÐÐyou might start a new holiday tradition. Several neighborhoods could even challenge each other to see who can donate the most!
10. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to help feed, clean up after, and walk their animals. The animals’ needs remain the same although the number of volunteer hours usually don’t. Dogs and cats don’t appreciate the meaning of Christmas, but they do appreciate a meal and a pat from a loving hand every dayÐÐeven on holidays.
11. Invite a neighbor over for Christmas
Do you have a neighbor who is a shut-in or who might be alone on Christmas? Why not invite them to your house for the holiday meal? It’s a wonderful way to spread holiday cheer. Invite them to go with you to see the best Christmas light displays in Wilmington, followed by hot chocolate back at your house before you escort them to their door.
These are just a few of the ways you can get involved in Wilmington over Christmas this year. For even more volunteer opportunities in the year to come, check out the Cape Fear Volunteer Center.