Volunteering in December - Of course, it’s the FESTIVE SEASON!

If local retailers are any clue, you’d think that Christmas and other December festivities are only days away! And while that’s not true, having regard to the calendar, it IS TRUE that in the volunteering community, many December opportunities are already spoken for (filled).

Especially for December 25, shelters, food banks with holiday meal programs, and church-related organizations enjoy repeat engagement of volunteers, year after year, a kind of ‘tradition’ that comes as a surprise to aspiring volunteers who seek involvement for the first time, and who may come away discouraged.

We say: Let that not be so!

Charities still need volunteers to assist in prepping for gift-giving and other programs prior to the holidays. Easiest examples are gift-wrapping volunteers at major shopping centres who fundraise by providing that service to shoppers, and we should not forget the volunteers who sort and wrap toys that ultimately will find their way into the hands of less fortunate children. Or those who are on hand to put together food hampers and other items for families in need. To be part of these outreaches means that you have to ‘Apply Now!’ (borrowing from the yellow rectangular box bearing that message that is found in Volunteer MBC’s ‘volunteer position’ descriptions).

Is that the end of the story? The opportunities? We say: No! Remember that the Festive Season is all about sharing, with particular focus on the family, your family, my family, the human family. There are many more ways that we can bring everyone into our sharing and caring.

How do we do this, and who will benefit? Take more than a moment and think who is most in need, and do not think only of tangible gifts as the sole response.

Ironically, it’s often the simple things that make the biggest difference, and mean the most, to both the recipient and the donor. Simple things such as calling on a senior whom you know lives mainly alone to volunteer to help with daily living, or to engage in simple, thoughtful conversation. A gesture founded upon health and wellness of someone who will benefit and thank you for it. Something that money can’t buy.

Consider the newcomer to Canada, separated, even uprooted from the home country, and as yet unsure about acceptance in Canada. Actions beyond a welcome will mean so much. And not just living in a community, but becoming a genuine part of it, thanks to a caring volunteer. Another ‘gift’ from the heart that money can’t buy.

In particular, the Festive Season is the best time to reach out as a family, through self-generated projects and social engagement. A priceless opportunity to acquaint children with the joy of giving, the satisfaction of volunteering, helping create a mindset of generosity that can easily last a lifetime.