Holiday Volunteer Opportunities
Spread Holiday Cheer by Helping Your Local Community
[Post Updated 10/12/2015]
Holidays are often a time when we think about giving to others and giving back to our communities. Volunteering can be a good way to do that. In every town there are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer and contribute to the comfort and safety of others. Older adults are unique in that they have expertise and life experience that they can share with others. Whether your interests are in human rights and advocacy, arts and culture, animals or board development, there is a volunteer post for you.
Why volunteer as a senior?
Why should you volunteer? What do you get out of it? Volunteering helps to keep your people skills sharp, establish valuable networking skills and boosts your self-esteem. Special skills such as sewing, accounting, construction, computer and information technology, teaching or crafting can be put to good use to benefit others. And other skills like listening, greeting, and serving meals can help alleviate bottlenecks in service quality for non-profits.
Volunteer work can open a whole new world of possibilities and the rewards are endless.
However you choose to spend your holiday, consider volunteering your time and services to help someone in need. It may be just what you need to get into the holiday spirit and make a difference in someone’s life.
12 Holiday Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors
There are several great places that will welcome you with open arms during the holiday season. These include:
1. Deliver Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels supplies meals to shut ins and senior citizens who qualify for the hot meals. The delivery is all done by volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering for this organization, contact your local office of Meals on Wheels.
2. Connect with local hospice organizations.
You can contact these folks to see if you can help deliver meals or maybe do another service you’re qualified for. They can use volunteer help during the holidays and regular days too.
3. Help out your local library.
You could hold a weekly storytime for children about holiday stories, choosing an appropriate short book or story and reading aloud. Arrange a convenient time with your librarian so she can put it in the newsletter. Or help to re-shelve books.
4. Get trained as a docent at a local museum.
If you are a fan of history, science, cars, or whatever, you may be able to find a museum near you that would welcome some help.
5. Organize a community cleanup.
Organize neighbors or friends to clean up a local eyesore – be it a vacant lot, streambed, or something else, most communities have an area that could use some tender loving care. Contact your local government official and let them know of your plans. They may help out with a dumpster, limb shredder or other useful equipment. Bring your garden gloves, pass out the jumbo garbage bags and collect that trash.
6. Adopt an alley or building that has graffiti.
Get paint and rollers (not spray paint) and cover the gang signs and words. If you are artistic, you might think about painting a mural or graphic on the wall to help prevent future tagging. You will need to get permission for this.
7. Serve as a mentor for a local youth organization.
Sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister, or help with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts or a class at a local school. These groups are always looking for people who are willing to make a one year commitment. If you aren’t up for that, you might be able to help provide adult supervision on an outing.
8. Tutor a child or an immigrant.
Many children need help with homework and their parents aren’t available to help (or don’t speak enough English). These volunteer programs are often handled by the local library (for immigrants) or by the school district (for children).
9. Work at a local food bank.
The holidays can be an especially difficult time for some people – these facilities see an increase in the use of their food products during this season. You can help by organizing donations or handing out food.
10. Contribute to a local religious charity or church.
Your local church or neighborhood center may need some extra help during the holiday season as well. From setting up Christmas displays to checking in people for special holiday events, there’s always an extra set of hands that can be used.
Religious charities help all those who need it, not just their own denomination. Find out if there is a niche for you by checking with Catholic Family Services, Jewish Family Service or other local group. They organize drivers for those who need a ride to medical appointments, have food banks to provide emergency food, and offer other services.
11. Clothe the needy.
Organize and put price tags on clothing donated to a local thrift shop. Knit, quilt or crochet receiving blankets and baby clothes for a local home for unwed mothers. They especially need caps for newborns and preemies. They can usually provide patterns.
12. Lend a hand to your local animal shelter.
If you relate to four-footed friends better than to two-legged ones, they have lots for you to help with. Bringing warmth and cheer to a family looking to a adopt is a great way to lend a helping hand.
Volunteering makes us feel good about ourselves. Sometimes it seems that we get back more than we give.
Are you volunteering anywhere this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!