“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill.
This time of year it can be easy to get caught up in the what you might get or what you need to get for others but it is also a great time of year to focus on giving to your community. Volunteering is a great way to build relationships with your family, friends and coworkers and depending on the volunteer opportunity, a great way to get physical exercise. Here are some suggestions on opportunities that I have personally done with friends and coworkers over the last few years that I really enjoyed.
Contact your local senior center: See if there are opportunities to go and clear some driveways or sidewalks and check in on seniors in your area after a snowy storm. Knowing that someone is around and looking out for them means a lot to seniors and their families who may not live nearby. Plus you’re getting active by shoveling the sidewalks and drives.
Contact your local police and fire department: One year a bunch of coworkers and I got together and along with the fire department dressed up a fire engine and went out to neighborhoods to collect canned food. Weeks prior we put fliers on their door informing them of the event. That night we turned on the lights on the engine, had Santa waving from the truck and as we collected literally bags full of food, we handed out candy canes. It was chilly, but we walked alongside the engine and had a great time seeing the smiles and excitement on kids faces.
Local community gardens: If you live in a warmer climate this is a good one for you. Seek out a community garden in your area and see if they are holding any events where they might be preparing for winter, harvesting, or overhauling the garden. I have done this in several different states and the most recent was for Neighborhood Impact. See if there is a Neighborhood Impact in your area and what opportunities might be available to participate in. http://www.neighborimpact.org/
There are a few things you will want to do in order to coordinate an volunteer activity.
1. Have one person be the point of contact and coordinator.
2. Take an assessment of the availability of those on your team or in your family or friends. See what opportunity fits best for the most people.
3. If you’re doing this as a work team make sure that the place you are volunteering for is compatible and approved by your company.
4. See if there are people in your group that already volunteer regularly and if their organizations need any help during the holiday season. That also helps with them becoming the point of contact and coordinator of the event.
5. Invite friends and family to join if possible.
Not only are you going to get to spend some quality time together but you will be staying active and helping your community out too. Make it a monthly tradition if you can. Try out several different opportunities to keep it engaging or if you find a really great organization see if they have predictable events that you can be a part of. Life can get pretty hectic but taking some time to step away and help others always helps put things in perspective and replenishes the soul. I don’t know about you but around the holiday season I get overwhelmed and it always helps me to help others. Stay Merry & Bright!