Five Ways to Volunteer During the Holidays
Here are five ways to reach out this holiday season…and more for all year long.
The increased expenses of the holiday season can put a strain on any family, and for those in need throughout the year, this is especially so. From helping to provide a filling holiday meal, or a few special gifts, many local organizations try to help to make the the holidays happy for all.
With the rise in demand for assistance comes more ways that you can help. From coat and toy drives to food pantries, it can be hard to hard to decide where and how to help. But whether you wish to donate food, gifts, or time, it is assured that local organizations will appreciate your efforts and every little bit helps.
Donate Gifts and Toys
Gift and toy drives are a fun way get into the holiday spirit, not only by shopping for those who will really appreciate it, but also by helping to distribute the donations. The Elizabeth Peabody House is looking for volunteers for December 20th through the 22nd to help with their annual gift drive. Volunteers on the 20th will prepare gift bags, while those helping on the 21st and 22nd will be distributing them to families in need. More information can be found at on the organization's website or by emailing Paul Kuhne, Outreach and Resource Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Another local organization that is in great need of toy donations is Greater Boston Catholic Charities. They will be accepting donations at their Somerville location all of next week, to pack up and send to local children. For more information, those interested in dropping off gifts can contact Tara Anderson at 617-625-1920.
Food and Time
The holiday season brings about many volunteer opportunities for hungry families as well. The Somerville Homeless Coalition will take as much food as possible to stock their shelters. Call the Coalition at 617-623-6111 for more information on need.
At the Elizabeth Peabody House, volunteers can bring in food or host food drives to collect canned or non-perishable items for the Emergency Food Pantry. Another way to help out is to spend a few hours helping the food pantry clients to "shop" for items on-site at the Elizabeth Peabody House. This interaction, says Kuhne, creates more of a community between the volunteers and those being served.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services also has opportunities to interact with those in need. The organization is running a Meals on Wheels program on December 23rd and 30th, where volunteers will assist the staff driver in bringing lunch to those who are not able to leave their homes. Thus, delivering both a sense of community and a warm meal, that might not otherwise have been had. Call SCES, at 617-628-2601 for more information or to sign up, and visit them at www.eldercare.org.
Volunteer Throughout The Year
After you've had a successful volunteering experience over the holidays, you can make it regular activity --each of these local organizations, and many others, have ways you can help year-round. The Elizabeth Peabody House runs an after-school enrichment program and an infant and toddler center that both need volunteers. While Somerville-Cambridge Elder Care Services hosts a Brown Bag effort on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, bagging up 600 brown bags of groceries to deliver to those in need.
The Somerville Homeless Coalition is in particular need of more volunteers year-round in their shelters, to play and tutor children and also to cook for and spend time with the shelter guests. All the organizations mentioned require food donations, especially after the holidays.
However you choose to help, know that you will bring a little joy into the lives of those in need this holiday season, and that's something worth volunteering for.