As we dive into the busy holiday season, please consider giving back -- sharing your time, talents and treasure to bring joy to your community and lift the spirits and situations of those in need. Make your service even more powerful by recruiting your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors to join with you in meaningful action.
Here are 7 Simple Holiday Service Ideas to get you started:
1) Adopt-a-Family or Organize a Giving Tree for the Holidays. Contact your local church, United Way, or local service organization to get assigned to a family in need. Or perhaps you know a neighbor or service worker at your school or congregation that could use extra help? Get this family's 'wish list' and publish it on VolunteerSpot, then invite your posse (friends, neighbors, coworkers and class parents) to sign up to bring toys, clothes and food. What a great way to make the holidays joyful for others and fuel your heart at the same time!
2) Warm the Homeless. This one is easy and fun for families with small kids. Simply purchase packages of warm socks, granola bars and bottles of water. Stuff the water bottles and granola bars in the socks and store them in a box in your car. Next time you see a homeless person on the street corner, share a warm gift of comfort.
3) Create a Caring Circle Calendar for an Elderly Neighbor or Relative. Rake leaves, shovel snow, prepare a meal, or visit for coffee -- these are simple gestures that can make a world of difference for elderly neighbors and relatives during the holidays (and throughout the year). VolunteerSpot makes it easy to create a Caring Circle Calendar and invite helpful neighbors, friends and family to each choose a day to pitch in.
4) Send Holiday Mail for Heroes. Gather friends or classmates to send warm Season's Greetings to service members and veterans across the country and abroad. Letters must be mailed prior to December 7 and should be bundled in a single envelope (up to 50 letters). Please mail to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456 Learn more here.
5) Run for a Cause. Sign up the whole family to participate in a 5-K or fun-run for a cause you care about. Too physical? Sign up to staff the water stations and cheer for the participant
6) Feed the Hungry. This is another terrific activity for families with young children. Decorate reusable grocery bags and ask your neighbors to help fill them up. Deliver full packages to your local food bank. Community pantries and soup kitchens need extra hands this time of year and welcome your help. Many have special programs that welcome families volunteering together. Search for your local food bank by zip code at Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief charity: www.FeedingAmerica.org.
7) Skip a Latte' (or martini) for Charity. Make a commitment to skip a latte' (or your beverage or choice) once a week or more during the holidays. Take the savings and donate to a local nonprofit or a cause you care about. With 7 weeks left 'till Christmas, you could easily save $30 or more. $30 would make a big difference to hungry families and kids without books and medicine here or abroad. Recruit your friends and coworkers to pledge to Skip a Latte' too, and see what kind of impact you can make together.
Also see our related post: Creating Global Good This Holiday Season
Learn About our Giving Tree Giveaway - Click Here
Inspired to get out there and serve? We've got a great way to save you time, simplify your holidays AND help you give back this holiday season! Register a new account and plan a holiday service activity on VolunteerSpot and Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in your name. Register a new account at VolunteerSpot and add the word “TREE” where we ask what type of group you organize and be sure to invite at least 4 volunteers. Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in your name in a fire-damaged national forest.
Please share your holiday service ideas by clicking 'Comments' below.