Volunteering is about giving your time and energy free of charge to accomplish a task that truly benefits others. It’s the time of year when most volunteering around the country and around the world is seen the most. Salvation Army bell ringers are outside stores raising funds for the less fortunate, holiday meals are served at churches and community centers, the United States Marine Corps participates in a toy drive to give presents to children, to name a few.
As the holidays approach, most look forward to being with family and friends, gift giving, holiday shopping and the endless treats and feasts. However, the less fortunate are more than likely unable to experience most of these traditions and signs of the season. For those in recovery or battling a mental health disorder, the holidays may be difficult while they battle their own demons, which may also include the loss of some of those same traditions as well.
For people who have had difficulties such as alcoholism or substance abuse and are in recovery during this season, volunteering could contribute to the healing process. People who have suffered trauma, chronic depression, anxiety or who are recovering from PTSD could find helping others provides perspective, hints of hope and selflessness by participating in heartfelt acts that benefit others. Places such as treatment centers, sober living homes, nursing homes, hospitals and hospices always welcome volunteers and will offer a sense of companionship with others in treatment or recovery.
If volunteering at rehabilitation centers or sober living homes is still too soon, here are a few other ideas to look into for volunteering in your community:
- Tutoring at classrooms for final exams
- Book drives
- AYSO registration
- Collecting sports equipment
- Senior center/nursing home
- Red Cross
- Food banks
- Soup kitchens
- Clothing drives
- Salvation Army
Charity events (not fundraising)
- Volunteering at marathons or race events
- Dinner and senior dinner/dancing events
- Silent auctions for charity
- Work at animal shelters or rescue centers
- Beach cleanups
- Vegetable picking
If there is a worthy, non-profit group in your area, give them a call and ask what you can do to provide assistance. A charitable and warm act of volunteering could also involve picking up groceries for elderly neighbors or family members, especially for those that live in snow-filled areas. Snow can also be unkind to holiday travels, so shoveling driveways is also appreciated for neighbors of any age.
The gift of volunteering, holiday season or not, will make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate or going through hardship during this period in their lives. While helping those in need, people in recovery are also evidently strengthening the healing process for themselves as well.