Finding Yourself with Volunteering

Hello Readers!  You know, during this time of the year I like to reflect over my charitable contributions and see if there are other ways to give more to my community in some way.  I like to start now, in mid November, because there are still ways to give back to the community with charity and volunteering.  So, here are a few ways I like to volunteer and that I encourage you to check out.

Meals on Wheels.  On Thanksgiving Day, many communities come together to take meals to the elderly or those housebound due to illness or injury.  The meals are the typical Thanksgiving fare-turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, roll, and the like-and they are packaged up in a community kitchen or a church kitchen before volunteers take them to different people across the community.  What I like about this is that it is a great way to give back to the community and provide a home-cooked meal for those whose families may not be close by and who are housebound due to illness.  Volunteers package the meals, organize them, and send them out, so everyone-including kids-can volunteer and be a part of this event.  To add to it, most of the time this event is held in the morning and is completed by mid afternoon, so you can still enjoy time with your family and your own Thanksgiving traditions.  But, it’s a great way to include your family in volunteer work and give back to the community.  For more information, check with your local parish to see if they know who may be putting on this event as it is typically done by a church organization.

Blanket/Coat Drive.  Okay, so this may seem like a cop-out because it doesn’t involve volunteering, but it is an important event to be involved in.  As most of you may know, this event typically takes place in participating stores and businesses and there is a drop off location for warm coats and blankets of all kinds for the needy.  I can tell you, from my own past, that Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations typically do participate in this event, along with grocery stores and other similar businesses.  Aside from donating coats and blankets, you can still volunteer at this event by offering to help with pick up and coordination of one of these events.  For more information, contact your local homeless shelter, or look into Warm Coat, and organization that focuses on these donations.

Soup Kitchen.   This one is an obvious choice, but it’s also a great way to volunteer your time for the needy.  As you may know, this event is typically held every day and provides a meal for anyone who needs it.  These soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers to serve food, to bus tables, to restock supplies, and more.  And it’s a great way to promote volunteering among your children by letting them help along side you.  The homeless shelters and Catholic churches typically put on something like this for the needy in your area.  But if you are unsure of who may hold this event in your area, you can always check with the Parish hall in your own church to find out.

Food Banks.  I love volunteering at the local food bank, and they always need help.  Food Banks always need help sorting non-perishables, creating food baskets to hand out, storing non-perishables, and whatnot.  I cannot stress enough the importance of this place as they provide food to the needy in your community.  And they will often tell you that the winter months are not the only times they need help, so it’s definitely worth checking out.  For more information, contact your local food bank or talk to your parish office to find out where they may have one in your community.

The Angel Tree.  I love choosing a child from the local Angel tree in my community and helping that child have a better holiday season.  For those of you not familiar with this event, the Salvation Army often displays trees in businesses or schools, and instead of ornaments they have small notecards-typically in the shapes of stars or angels-that list a child’s holiday want on the card, along with an age.  This can be everything from a store gift card for a teenager to winter clothes (like hats and boots) for a child to diapers for a baby.  My husband and I typically look for a more needy wish, such as diapers for a baby or winter clothes for a child, but we always encourage giving back in any way you can.  For more information, check with your local Salvation Army office or with your local schools to see if they are participating in this event.

The Church.  It may not seem like it, but your own parish office could always use volunteers to help out in different ways.  There are always community events at churches that need volunteers to help set up and clean up, letters and cards to stuff and send out, child services like Sunday school and pageants that need leaders, and other volunteer opportunities.  Most churches will take a few minutes during their usual Sunday services to let parishioners know what needs they may have.  If you happen to miss this during services, you can always check with your parish office for more information.

So hopefully these options have inspired you to volunteer some of your time during the holidays.  I know I’m eager to get busy volunteering!

Until next time,

-BBM

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