Every year I can always expect my family to do the same things around the holiday season. From putting up decorations immediately following Thanksgiving, to always attending the same Christmas show in downtown Charleston. These are some of the traditions that I love and have come to cherish most over the years. However, my favorite tradition that I hold dear is the tradition of volunteering during this time of year.
Ever since I was young, my family has always been involved in volunteering that was never really limited to any particular time of the year. I just remember that around the holidays we did a little extra. This volunteering was even more so encouraged through my involvement in Girl Scouts especially with my mom being my troop leader. I am now in my 16th year of being a scout and have loved the many opportunities that it has afforded me, but volunteering has by far been the best. Even as I grow older it is a tradition that I hope to carry on throughout my life.
Here are some way that you and your family can volunteer this holiday season:
Contact your local Blue Star Mothers:
Blue star mothers is local organization that has been setup to provide any wants or needs that the troops may have. Around Christmas time you can help them stuff stockings to send them, or even donate supplies. In order to make them a little more personal my family will typically place in holiday cards and write them a message.
If you would like to contact a local Blue Star Mother Chapter and see how you and your family can help this season, or throughout the year, simply go here.
Adopt a nursing home:
Most years we try and find a nursing home that is in need in some way. We typically donate food, blankets, or even basic care necessities. If you want to make it a little more personal you can ask if there is a resident who may not have visitors as often and help make their holiday a little more festive. By making decorations, bake goods, or even writing them a letter. Every little bit counts!
Submit some gifts for Toys For Tots:
This is perhaps my favorite one of them all. Toys for tots allows you not only to donate toys to local children in need, but you can even help bag and deliver toys. Bags for each family are created based off of the child's age and gender, everything else is completely anonymous. The best part is toys are delivered on Christmas morning so that no child has to go without a toy.
If you would like to find a Toy for Tot location near you please follow the link below. Once followed you can search for local drop of areas as well as submit a family that may be in need. Please follow: http://m.toysfortots.org/mobile/toys.asp
Support a family through Ronald McDonald House:
A cause that you may not have thought about was your local Ronald McDonald house. Often these families are consumed by the illness of child and may not be able to afford everything they need during the season, sometimes they may not even have time to cook. Best thing to do is contact your local Ronald McDonald House and ask if there is any family residing in the house that may be in need of supplies. Also you can ask if you and your family can drop off food, or even cook for them.
You can find your local Chapter at: http://www.rmhc.org/chapter-search
Volunteer at a local soup kitchen:
With the seasons changing and the weather cooling, people are going to need a warm meal to help them through the cold long days. What better way than stopping by a local soup kitchen and being able to see the joyous smile on your face?! Seriously smiles are contagious and can help someone have a better day!
If you would like to find a local shelter near you, donate, or even participate please follow: http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/
These are all things that me and my family do every holiday season and are just some basic ideas to help get you started. However, I have barely even scratched the top. There are so many things that you and your family can do this season. If you want to extend this out to volunteering with your friends then go for it! If you have a sorority, a scout troop, or even a Sunday school class. I highly encourage every single one of you to get involved this Christmas and see what impact you can help make in your community! Better yet, why limit this spirit of giving to just the holiday season? These are all things that you can do throughout the year.
"We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change." -Gandhi