Holiday Volunteering: How to Help Others Have a Brighter Holiday

Connie McKinneyStarred Page By Connie McKinney, 9th Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Holidays & Celebrations

Tis the season to volunteer. Learn how to help others have a brighter holiday this Christmas season.

Holiday Volunteers

The jingle of a bell. Toys overflowing a donation box. The sound of Christmas carols echoing through the hallways of a nursing home.
These are some of the sights and sounds of the holiday season courtesy of volunteers. For many people, volunteering during the Christmas season is just as important as shopping, decorating and preparing for Christmas. Why not join them this holiday season?
This is a good time to give back. Christmas is supposed to be about giving, not shopping. Also, many people are out of work, homeless or living in a nursing home. They would appreciate any help you can give them.
Let's look at some of the ways you can volunteer.

Become a Bell Ringer For the Salvation Army

Salvation Army bell ringers are a familiar sight in front of shopping malls, department stores and grocery stores this time of year. Some bell ringers are clients of the Salvation Army. Most are volunteers. This is the major fund-raiser for the organization, and every quarter dropped into the kettle helps feed, shelter and transition people to other services or jobs.
Salvation Army members also help during disasters. More than two years ago, my city suffered a devastating flood. I volunteered with the clean up effort and saw the Salvation Army in action. A mobile van with a grill traveled to hard hit areas and served hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches to people who needed it. Electricity was shut off so people couldn't cook for themselves.
Another nice part about bell ringing is it's an easy way to volunteer, especially if you have children. Feel free to bring the kids along. Most shoppers won't be able to resist a cute child bundled up in a snow suit and waving a bell.
Bell ringing is also a good activity if you want to volunteer with a group of friends, co-workers or club members and spend a Saturday afternoon (or a whole Saturday!) volunteering. I've been the chief bell ringer for groups, and I've also done solo slots.
My main role as the organizer is to serve as the coffee fairy. I ask each volunteer how they like their coffee and then go fetch them some. The children get hot chocolate. This helps the volunteers stay warm and gives me a way to thank them for their hard work.
One year I had so many people show up for a Saturday afternoon of bell ringing that there was no room for me to do it. At least I could be the coffee fairy that day.

Help Toys For Tots

Another way to help during the holiday season is to donate to Toys For Tots. The Marines run this toy drive for needy families. They make sure every child gets a Christmas present.
Helping Toys For Tots is another way to get children involved in volunteering. Take the children shopping for toys. Have them pick out a toy for a child in need. Then, have them drop it into the donation box.

Don't Forget the Elderly at Christmas

This can be a lonely time of year for older people who live in a nursing home. Some don't have family who can visit them. Others have family members who live far away.
One way to help them is to sing Christmas carols at a nursing home. Join forces with your family or friends or recruit singers from your office or civic group, if you belong to one.
I've seen people's faces brighten when they hear us singing. Many people like to chat with us after the songs. They love seeing us - even if our group would never make it past the first round of "American Idol".
I once sang with a group of friends in the dementia unit of a local nursing home. One resident didn't talk much, according to what the staff told us. But she started singing along with "Silent Night." We connected with her on some level and brought her out of her shell - if only for one evening.
Another way to help the elderly this time of year is to buy small gifts for them. Check with the staff first to see what people need or want. Your gift may be the only one they get this year.
So why not spend some of your holiday season singing Christmas carols, ringing a bell or shopping for needy children? You'll have fun, feel good about yourself and might even receive a gift from the coffee fairy.

To volunteer with the Salvation Army, go to
Here is a story I did about holiday depression


The photos came from Morguefile.
This article was based on some of my experiences volunteering this time of year.
This article was based on one I previously published for Yahoo Voices


Christmas, Holiday, Holidays, Volunteer, Volunteering

Meet the author

author avatar Connie McKinney
I enjoy exercising, pets, and volunteering as well as writing about these topics and others.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
9th Dec 2013 (#)

We don't have bell ringers here Connie , but there are still many opportunities to volunteer to help others ..I help with a Food Bank which feeds many families at all times of year .. but winter is especially a needy time .
God bless you my friend
Stella ><

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author avatar Connie McKinney
9th Dec 2013 (#)

Stella, that's great to hear. Winter is a tough time for a lot of people. Keep on volunteering, and I will, too.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Dec 2013 (#)

Aha! I could read it on my phone. Glad they were able to help out after the flood. It does make a difference in that situation. :)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
10th Dec 2013 (#)

A big thumbs up to you on this article, Connie.
I am starting a whole series of articles on the needy, homeless and on organizations that serve them. Thanks for linking to
Have as happy and blessed holiday.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
10th Dec 2013 (#)

Phyl, so glad you could read my story. Or is it reed my story? Lol Thanks so much

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author avatar Connie McKinney
10th Dec 2013 (#)

Thanks, Jerry. So glad you are doing this series. Good luck with your series. Have a great holiday, as well.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
10th Dec 2013 (#)

Bravo my dear Connie, not only for tose you bring joy, but for yourself as teh kindness that you're giving to others, Ilike working in serving the homeless holiday meals as ell donating for toys for tots from the Marines, anything you give to the community, hang a star on this post

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author avatar Connie McKinney
10th Dec 2013 (#)

Thanks, Fern. I enjoy helping others. It's a lot of fun and very rewarding.

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author avatar Carol
11th Dec 2013 (#)

What a great article Connie, we should all pull our weight

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author avatar Connie McKinney
11th Dec 2013 (#)

Thanks, Carol. You are so right.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
16th Dec 2013 (#)

Endless possibilities to spread cheer around and to us too thereby. Thanks Connie. Though we have no winter in most parts of Asia, Christmas season is alive and well especially in cities - siva

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author avatar Connie McKinney
17th Dec 2013 (#)

Glad to hear the spirit is alive and well throughout Asia, Siva.

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