Want to Give a Little Extra This Season? Here are 5 Tips for Volunteering Over the Holidays

Posted December 14, 2015 by Paul M. Parker, M.D., FACS

volunteer-group‘Tis the season for giving, and we don’t mean the piles of perfectly-wrapped gifts under your tree—we’re talking about sweat equity. There are so many organizations and people who need assistance, and while supporting those in need should be a year-round goal, many people particularly enjoy volunteering over the holiday season. Here are some tips for holiday volunteer work this season and, hopefully, for years to come.

1. Start Looking Early

Because the holidays allow for more time to lend an extra hand and many people share the same desire to donate their time during this time of year, finding the perfect opportunities can be hard. In fact, most organizations fill their holiday volunteer openings quite quickly.

To make sure you get the opportunity to volunteer where you would like, find the organization early. This can even require planning up to a year in advance! But don’t fret if you’re just starting out for this year—there are other ways you can help (see tip #2!)

2. Keep Your Options Open

Because you may find that the organization nearest and dearest to your heart does not need additional help during the holidays this year, you should keep your options open. Diversify your opportunities by finding schools, churches, senior centers, and town halls to see if they need any assistance if your first choice isn’t a possibility. You can also find other ways to give, such as toy donation, canned food drives, and winter clothing drop-offs.

There are a vast number of New York volunteer opportunities at your disposal, and if you’re in Paramus, NJ, there are plenty of options right here in our community.

3. Get to Know the Organization Before the Holidays

Another reason to start look early is that it’s important to build a relationship with the organization you plan on volunteering with before the start of the holiday season. There are many tasks to learn, and sometimes it can take some time to get the knack of things. By developing a relationship with the organization, you will familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the nonprofit and possibly make some new friends while you’re at it.

We suggest you attend an orientation at least a month in advance so you can see if you are aligned with the organization’s vision and how they benefit your local community. It’s may be too late for December, but now is a great time to check if there are any informational meetings or orientations for the new year.

4. Be Creative

There are other ways to give your time to those in need this holiday season that don’t involve volunteering for an organization. Here are other ways to be a big help to your community:

  • Visit a nursing home: There are plenty of nursing homes that allow for visitors to help with special activities. Contact a local home to see if they need any help during the holiday season.
  • Start a coat drive: Start gathering clothes from the attic that you no longer wear. Additionally, tell your friends to start collecting warm clothing they no longer want and donate to a local shelter.
  • Donate old toys: Have your children, nieces, or nephews gather their old toys and see if there is a national or local organization that will take them.
  • Make kits for the homeless: You don’t have to work with a specific organization to lend a helping hand. Try making these care packages to hand out to the homeless in your community.
  • Random acts of kindness: Challenge yourself to see how many random acts of kindness you can incorporate into your day-to-day routines. One idea to raise holiday spirits is purchasing gift cards to a local coffee shop, then give strangers a free cup of coffee just because it will make their day.

5. Find Ways to Give Year Round

We believe in maintaining involvement within the community by giving back year-round. Currently, the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery works with Alzheimer’s NJ, Wounded Warrior Project, Jersey Cares, and Children’s Aid and Family Services.

We suggest you find ways to give your time based on your own ideals. Which nonprofits are making a difference in your life? Find them and give your time. It will no doubt help make your year ahead great!

Happy holidays from The Parker Center for Plastic Surgery—may they be merry and bright!

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