Where to Volunteer for the Holiday Season — and the Rest of the Year, Too
Funny how the Thanksgiving holiday often gets us thinking about what we can do to help others who may not have the same level of security that we do. The holiday season offers a perfect opportunity for us to take stock of what’s important, to focus on how we can be the change we wish to see in the world and give back to our friends, families, and communities.
But even if we have the best intentions to help, where do we even start? While one standby impulse — to hit a local community center or soup kitchen to sling food for the day — is certainly a good start, it might not always be a feasible option (especially, say, in the middle of your workday), or even the best way to support communities in need. In fact, it might be better for us to save our good intentions for a different time of year altogether — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the holiday season to set up future volunteer efforts.
“If you really want to volunteer, pick any day, but don’t pick Thanksgiving or the day after Thanksgiving,” Eileen Heisman, CEO and President of the National Philanthropic Trust, told USA Today in 2017. Instead, Heisman suggests donating money during #GivingTuesday to a charity (local or national) that is important to you.
If you are still interested in volunteering your time, charities, community centers, and food banks need help all year round, and can often get overwhelmed with volunteer requests around the holidays. Instead, ask the organization you’d like to work with when and how you can be of most help, and plan for that.
If you’re unsure of where to volunteer, Volunteer Match helps connect you to organizations that need help across the country. It’s set up like any other search engine — just enter your location and what type of group you’d like to volunteer with. Otherwise, you can always do a little Google sleuthing to browse local organizations and find what’s right for you.
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