By Meghen Jones
There comes a time each year when the holiday spirit reaches its absolute peak, and we actively seek opportunities to help those within our community. And as the season of giving inevitably approaches, why shouldn’t you begin considering all of the ways that you can give back to those less fortunate than you? It’s all about being mindful, guys…you haven’t already forgotten that from our tips last week, right?
Granted, it can be a bit difficult to decide how to go about volunteering your time, especially if you’re a newbie. Luckily enough for you, there are so many options to choose from when it comes to fulfilling the reason for the season. Plus, uCribs has compiled a list of 7 ways that you can make someone’s holiday extra special this season. ‘Tis the season to be filled with love, warmth, and care as you get into the spirit of giving.
Adopt A Family
“Adopt a Family for the Holidays” is a popular holiday volunteer option in the U.S. The process typically consists of adopting a disadvantaged family that does not have enough financial resources for gifts during the holiday season. In other words, many of these programs provide gifts for working single parent homes or working two-parent homes that can only provide basic resources for their children in lieu of presents.
By agreeing to adopt a family, you make a commitment to provide the chosen family with enough gifts from their wish list to give them a meaningful holiday to remember. Since this suggestion is a little out-of-ballpark for someone on a student budget, gather a few friends or family members together that are interested in participating in the cause. Sure, rallying the troops may take some elbow grease, but just think about how rewarding it will feel to shower a hardworking family with the gifts their children deserve this holiday season.
Show Our Soldiers Appreciation
While the holidays can be filled with insurmountable joy, they tend to be a hard time of year for many. There are those who can’t spend time with their families due to commitments or obligations, like the men and women serving in our armed forces. Although you may not be able to relate on a personal level, you can recognize that there’s nothing more disappointing than being away from your loved ones—on the holidays or otherwise— because duty calls.
Imagine being stationed in another country, far away from everything you love, then add the holiday season on top of it. Seems pretty rough, doesn’t it? Well, show your appreciation to those who fight for our country by creating sweet care packages this holiday season. These thoughtful packages can include a short thank you note, non-perishable items like Pringles, and simple necessities such as a hand sanitizer or lip balm. While these small and inexpensive care packages may not seem like much, these thoughtful items will be an excellent gift to our soldiers that will be appreciated and remembered for years to come.
Volunteer at a Local Organization
Have you ever felt that signature, “warm and fuzzy” feeling after spending a few hours of your spare time volunteering? Whether it be at a children’s hospital or a campus carnival, it’s such a rewarding feeling to know that you took the time to help someone without expecting something in return. Plus, if we do say so ourselves, it does help you grow as a person.
So, why not spend some of your extra time volunteering at a local toy drive this holiday season? And if you can’t seem to find a worthwhile toy drive in your area, search for other opportunities within your community that are currently seeking volunteers—a food bank, an animal shelter, or a program dedicated to providing affordable housing, like Habitat for Humanity. The options are seemingly endless, and your effort— wherever it is placed— will definitely not go unnoticed.
Host a Coat or Food Drive
Winter is well on its way, and it will not be too long before temperatures begin to drop—and in most places around the United States, it already has! Whether you love cold weather or absolutely despise it, you need to be prepared for it. And believe it or not, there are many families that have to face the harsh winter days without a coat to keep them warm or a hot meal to fill their stomach.
One way that you can bring them some warmth is by hosting a coat or food drive amongst your favorite student organization, part-time job, or student apartment complex. Once you decide where to host your drive, place bins in the appropriate places with clear, concise labeling, outlining what you’ll accept as a viable donation versus what you will not. Don’t forget to set plenty of reminders for your peers, co-workers, or neighbors—whether you post them on social media, opt to hang flyers where necessary, or simply use word-of-mouth.
Serve a Holiday Meal
When you think of the holidays, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is all the good eats around the community table. Man, they sure do hit the spot. Since you have so much to be personally grateful for, it might not come to mind that there are many individuals who don’t have the same access to meals, gifts, or time spent with family. So, why not take some time out of your holiday to serve them a holiday meal they more than deserve?
Throughout the holiday season, many local soup kitchens and homeless shelters serve special holiday meals to hundreds of people in their respective areas. Not only are these meals meant to nourish the bodies of the less fortunate, but it’s also a way to spread some much-needed holiday cheer to those who need it most. Don’t be afraid to donate a few hours of your precious holiday break to ladle gravy, wash dishes, and greet strangers in need with a smile and some service.
Give Back to Your Neighborhood School
Pencils, pens, highlighters… these are all of the must-have items that are necessary to get through a productive school year. As a college student, you’re no stranger to these long demanding lists and how quickly funds can add up by the time you purchase every single book, supply, and specialty item you need.
With school budgets becoming tighter, many teachers have to buy school supplies themselves—all on an educator’s meager budget. But, this is where you come in! You can lend a helping hand by putting together specialized school supply packages for your neighborhood elementary, middle, and high schools. If you’re unsure of what supplies are needed, partner up with a former teacher for a desired wish list. If all else fails, you could even search through Facebook or LinkedIn to find a teacher to sponsor!
Visit A Nursing Home
As Christmas approaches, there’s just one place we can’t seem forget about—nursing homes. If you weren’t aware, senior citizens in need of extra help can receive the care they need in a facility such as this. Some have families, but many do not, and let’s face it, those who are surrounded by the care capable doctors and nurses could still use a visitor or two during the holiday season.
Call your local nursing home to schedule a visit. You could stop by to join a new friend for lunch, deliver greeting cards to brighten up their room, or simply sit beside them to watch their favorite soap opera. If you want to add an extra dose of joy, gather a few friends to sing holiday carols to the residents. They will appreciate being surrounded by company, and we have no doubt in our minds that you will enjoy it equally as much.
The good, ol’ saying “a little goes a long way” comes to life during the holiday season. Whether you choose to act alone or with others by your side, there is no greater feeling than working towards an initiative larger than yourself, especially during the holiday season when making someone crack a smile can go a long way. Trust us your pals at uCribs when we say that your volunteer efforts will be appreciated more than you know.