There are many ways to volunteer or support nonprofit organizations looking to help the community in the 2020 holiday season. This holiday season is shaping up to be so different from others. One question facing many people is what they can still do to give back this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For those looking to volunteer, some charity and outreach organizations are able to accommodate volunteers at their locations, while others are unable to, but have other ways for people to contribute.
Five Ways To Volunteer During the Pandemic:
1. Host a Toy Drive or Canned Food Collection
This can be done at your job. Most local food pantry or shelters accept canned food donations. If you don’t have time to plan a volunteer event or can’t because of the pandemic, hosting a collection for toys, books or food is a very simple way to contribute to a cause.
Toys For Tots is a nonprofit organization that collects toys for underprivileged children around the holidays. The charity has donation drop-off locations across the country, as well as corporate opportunities for hosting a toy drive.
2. Build Homes with Habitat For Humanity
If you’re located in warmer climates, a really good way to volunteer as a group is connecting with your local Habitat For Humanity chapter. The organization works to provide homes for those in need. Make sure you’re social distancing and using proper precautions.
3. Host a Letter Writing Party
More Love Letters is a letter writing campaign that originated in New York. The idea is to send anonymous love letters to people who are going through a difficult time.
The holidays can be really tough for some people, so this is a fabulous way to spread holiday cheer to those who need a little boost during this time. More Love Letters is currently running a “12 Days of Christmas” themed letter writing campaign. You could host a small love letter writing party via zoom or with your co-workers and write a few letters.
4. Adopt a Family
One of my favorite ways to volunteer during the holidays is hosting a family to buy Christmas presents for. You can usually set this up through your local Salvation Army Angel Tree branch or a community center such as a Boys and Girls Club.
5. Share Time With Others
Beyond physical donations, one of the best ways to volunteer over the holidays is to give of your time. You don’t have to find an official charity event, either! There are plenty of informal opportunities in your day-to-day life that are still COVID-19 safe:
- Rake leaves, shovel snow or take out the trash for a neighbor.
- Go caroling (but maintain a safe social distance!).
- Make handmade cards and distribute them to nursing homes, health care workers or overseas soldiers.
- Make homemade masks for neighbors or friends.
By finding simple ways to share your time, you’ll show your kids that sometimes the most helpful gestures are small, spontaneous acts for the people around us.
Five Places/Ways To Donate This Holiday Season:
- Pay Away the Layaway is a non-profit organization that helps to pay off layaway balances for families in need. By donating, you can pay off balances on gifts for children—everything from games, toys, and books to backpacks, clothes, and coats. What better way to give back this holiday season than by helping those in need provide their families with the things they need, as well as gifts for a real holiday miracle?
2. Take lunches to people who work during the holiday. This may be difficult due to the pandemic but I feel like most places allow catering as long as it’s individually boxed. This would be a good idea for hospital workers, firefighters, police officers, retail workers, etc. While many people relish in the time they get off from work during the holidays, there are some people that don’t get time off. Bring holiday cheer to these folks by bringing them lunches during their work day. Not only are you saving them money, but the gesture itself will make being stuck at work a little better.
3. Help those who have fallen victim to natural disasters. Remember that there are places such as California and Florida that experienced numerous amounts of natural disasters this year and are still recovering from the destruction. You can help make sure their holiday festivities are better by donating to Operation Blessing’s website, which helps families that have been devastated by disaster.
4. Help out this year by wrapping presents for Shared Hope International. This organization works to prevent sex trafficking and restore victims of sex slavery by training first responders to identify sex trafficking warning signs and by raising awareness about child sex slavery in communities through campaigns. You can support Shared Hope International and their mission by wrapping Christmas presents for their donors and supporters.
5. Donate gifts to those in the foster care system. SantaCAN is an online gift registry for children who are in the foster care system. The website allows you to see exactly what specific kids want for Christmas so that you can purchase something, mail it, and make their whole day.
Here are 10 ways to volunteer your time or donate this holiday season! I hope that these suggestions were helpful! The best way to get started with volunteering or donating is focusing on something you care most about. I know it’s hard to choose but there are plenty of organizations that offer a variety of things for those in need.
What are some ways that you and your family like to give back this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!