Many times a year, people go hungry. Many people suffer from the effects of not possessing money and other resources year round. Over the holidays, however, many people suffer from these ailments while having to deal with the holidays. That includes the conflicting atmospheres of the holidays vs. their situation, as well as the temperature/precipitation.
Overall, Christmas is not always the happiest time.
And though I always advocate for serving your community regardless of the situation, if you want to volunteer in your community, you should during this time of year, and in the subsequent months of January and February, for many reasons.
For one, as previously mentioned, the holidays are always consistently colder with freezing temperature and snow making up the majority of weather forecasts. For those that are homeless, this is extremely detrimental and potentially lethal. This is why homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other facilities are vital, especially during the holidays. However, these locations can be overloaded or understaffed during the holidays.
That is where you step in.
Secondly, it is a great way to connect with not only those you are serving but also those you volunteer with (and yourself) as well. A great example of this for me personally is when I volunteered at a shelter for homeless individuals as part of my school's Catholic group. While I was there, I was able to converse with both kids and parents, and also got to prepare meals for them.
Safe to say, it was an illuminating experience with laughs, tears and a great experience. It taught me a lot about who I wanted to be in terms of my career and also allowed me to reflect on just how good things are for me. The experience also brought out the best qualities in many of my friends — empathy, kindness, sympathy and being outgoing — and showed me that volunteering can bring the best qualities out of all of us.
Lastly, you will be undoubtedly bringing joy to the myriad people you meet. Believe me, there are so many ways this can be done. A child receiving a gift they would not have expected to receive, the family that just received enough food to make a holiday dinner or the individual who just received the clothes necessary to brave the winter. These are just many examples of the ways joy can be brought — a need can be filled by these actions, and you can help bring joy to their faces.
The way to do this? Volunteer. Serve. Be active in your community. It is good for you, certainly, but more importantly, benefits the greater society.
Contact a soup kitchen. A homeless shelter. Volunteer to buy a child a gift.