November 19, 2013 at 04:14pm
Pine trees. Gilded glass ornaments. Big gold boxes wrapped with shiny red ribbons. The image of the holidays we have is one of people cozying up next to the fireplace stockings in their knitted reindeer sweaters with a plate of gingerbread cookies in one hand and a present in the other.
For most of us, our biggest worry is whether to buy the green scarf or the blue scarf for our mother-in-law, or which Lego kit was the one our son wanted. Yet for many others, presents are the last thing on their minds this holiday season – they’re just thinking about how to last the winter months with enough food and warm clothing.
This holiday season, while you’re shopping for gifts or decorating your Christmas tree, stop and think of all the ways you could give back this winter. Here are some of the best ways to volunteer at nonprofits that brighten up the holidays for those in need:
Give a Family Their Christmas Dinner
Volunteer with Christmas Cheer to deliver 15,000 warm meals on Christmas to needy families and lonely seniors, as well as wrapped toys and books for the kids. Or, call your local food pantry or soup kitchen and see if you can help serve meals for the holidays.
Play the Part of Santa
Be An Elf, part of USPS’ Operation Santa program, lets you go to your local post office and read real letters from kids written to Santa. If you find a letter that touches you – some of the kids write asking for new backpacks for school, clothing, or just food – you can be their own Santa and send them the Christmas presents they want. Likewise, check out Angels For Kids for other ways to donate gifts to children who otherwise wouldn’t have any on Christmas.
Send the Holidays to Our Troops
Soldiers’ Angels sends care packages to soldiers around the world during the season of giving. Get involved to bake cookies, sew blankets, write holiday cards, and more to send to the troops who can’t be home with their families for the holidays.
Heifer International Foundation gives livestock to impoverished countries around the world and trains communities in animal management to ensure that they can start a sustainable food production system. The Heifer at Hanukkah program encourages people to give livestock as a Hanukkah present to needy communities through a funded contribution, fulfilling the Jewish idea of tzedakah – giving to charity.
Make a Wish Come True
Volunteers at Unity, A Journey of Hope grant wishes to adults 18 or older with life-limiting illnesses and also run “Operation Christmas Wish” to give the spirit of Christmas to families whose parents are ill and cannot afford Christmas festivities. See how you can get involved to grant these people their holiday wishes.Have a story to tell about one of the nonprofits that help out at the holidays? Share it here!
Related GreatNonprofits posts:
- Help Victims of Typhoon Haiyan
- Get The Most Out of #GivingTuesday
- Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in San Francisco