It’s almost cliché to hear people say the holidays are a time to “give something back.” Yet it’s exactly this time of year when wintry weather conditions and economic pressures put the greatest strain on charities, nonprofits, and other public-good organizations. It’s the time when these groups can use the help of volunteers the most.

female,doctor,surgery,patient,taking,gp,physician,taking blood,sample,blood donor,Blood Test,Cheerful,Hospital Ward,Smiling,20s,Twenties,Young Adult,Caring,Caucasian,Color,Colour,Image,Expertise,Giving Blood,Healthcare,Helping,Holding,Hospital,Indoors,InsThe Red Cross – the international flagship of relief organizations, the Red Cross offers a variety of opportunities for holiday volunteerism. The Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign, provides personal thank you messages to American service personnel stationed overseas.

The holidays are also the time when blood and plasma donations are needed the most. The Red Cross hosts thousands of blood donation drives nationwide that need staff and donor recruiters.

Habitat for Humanity – The trip home is the centerpiece of any holiday season, and Habitat for Humanity creates homes for the less fortunate across the United States. In many cases volunteer groups from companies, churches, and other organizations work together on a specific construction project in a one-day build.

A list of local projects and volunteer openings is maintained on the organization’s website. Plan to make reservations to help several weeks in advance.

iStock_000023495039LargeFood Banks and Food Delivery – Getting meals to the elderly, the homebound, and the disabled takes on new levels of challenge during cold and icy weather conditions. At the same time, food banks’ holiday food drives require additional volunteer support as demand for supplies skyrockets.

Giving your time at food banks, in soup kitchens, and with meal delivery services helps you help others enjoy a holiday meal they might not otherwise receive. Donate food or donate your time in cataloguing and inventorying food and supplies.

Nursing Homes – Every year thousands of elderly nursing home residents spend the holidays by themselves. Giving only a few hours of your time can help them feel better about the holidays and provide hope for the New Year. Contact your area nursing homes for volunteer guidelines.

By Michael Kabel

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