Do you or your kids have some down time during winter break? Would you like to find some Christmas volunteer opportunities to help your community during the holidays? Check out the 10 ideas below that will help beat the winter blues and do good at the same time!
Best Christmas Volunteer Opportunities
1. Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots host toy campaigns across the country. At the point of writing this post, this organization has donated 627 million toys since it started back in 1947. To put it another way, if the donations were equally distributed through the years, that would be over 8 million toys a year. That’s just amazing to me. They have put a lot of smiles on kids faces at Christmas time. If you want to join in on the fun of bringing some Christmas joy to kids, I have a few ideas for you.
Fundraising Event or Toy Drop Location
First you can host a Toys for Tots fundraising event or apply to be a toy drop location at your school. Create your Toys for Tots local campaign here.
Youth Ambassador Program
Second, you can become a Youth Ambassador in your region of the country. The Youth Ambassador program began in 2021, so it’s not that well known yet. Since the program is just starting out, my gut is they are eager for more volunteers to grow the program. It would be a great opportunity to make a big impact.
To become a Youth Ambassador, you need to contact the local Toys for Tots Coordinator. You might need to host a toy drive to be considered for the program. Each county coordinator has different ways of being contacted. Some use social media and others will provide an email or phone number. Find your local county coordinator here. If your county is “not covered”, I recommend finding a nearby county.
Virtual Toy Drive
Lastly, would be to donate to their Virtual Toy Box. I don’t believe you can coordinate a drive online with their virtual option, but it would be an easy way to donate. 🙂 If you are still wanting to do something online, you might consider creating an Amazon Toys for Tots gift registry.
2. Operation Christmas Child
The Operation Christmas Child (OCC) effort was started by a non-denominational Christian organization called Samaritan’s Purse. This organization started in 1970 to “meet emergency needs in crisis areas” utilizing Christian churches and groups.
The whole point of this effort is for children in need to receive a shoebox that is filled with toys, school supplies and personal care items for Christmas. You can decorate your own shoebox or you can purchase shoeboxes in packs of 50. If you are coordinating a shoebox packing or collecting event, the packs might be a good idea so you have all of the boxes on hand. If you want to participate in National Collection Week, in mid-November, make sure your order before November 1st.
After packing the shoebox, you can download labels for the shoebox to indicate if the items inside are geared toward a certain age group and/or gender. You can download the labels for free or donate $10 for the labels and receive the ability to track the box with a QR Code.
Shoebox Drive Project Ideas
- Get the word out to your neighbors that you are collecting packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. You might include some of the back story on OCC and Samaritan’s Purse.
- Create a shoebox drive at your church or school. If you are going to try to coordinate something at your church, I would suggest reaching out to your youth group counselor. At your school, contact the school counselor or maybe reach out to the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) coordinator.
3. Giving Tree
You have probably seen Christmas trees in schools or churches that have the little gift tags all over them. This is such an easy way to give back during the holidays. Most times these tags have the age, gender, and possible gift ideas. Sometimes the gift idea is explicit, so carefully look at the tag to make sure it fits within your budget.
If your school doesn’t have one of these, you might talk to your counselor to see if you could start one. It’s possible that they might say no, but you don’t know until you ask. If you have to provide the tree, you can start small and purchase one from discount store. It doesn’t need to be a fancy tree. You could even make one out of green butcher paper to put on the school walls. The school likely has the paper and if they are open to the idea, then they might let you use their paper.
There are many places that would welcome gift donations. Reach out to a local organization to get a list of needed items to put on the gift tags. A few ideas are as follows:
- Homeless Shelter
- Battered Women’s Shelter
- Homes for Children (who have been victims of abuse, abandonment or neglect)
- Animal Shelter
- Senior Living Community
4. Help Decorate a Hospital for the Holidays
Another one of the fun Christmas volunteer opportunities is decorating a hospital for the holiday. When my daughter was in elementary school, she was hospitalized for a week. She was checked in on December 5th and at the time we had no idea how long we would be there. To top it off it was in the middle of a winter storm, so the road conditions made it hard for people to visit.
You know what made the whole hospital stay a little better? All of the Christmas decorations that were around the hospital. We had several days when walking around looking at the decorations was the highlight of the day. Those decorations helped make a scary situation, a little less scary. It gave us something to look forward to and something besides her health to talk about.
Fast forward a few years later, my daughter and I had the opportunity to decorate the same children’s hospital for Christmas. It was so much fun decorating the trees, working with my daughter and getting into the holiday spirit. The best part was knowing our work just might put a smile on a child’s face while they were facing a potentially scary hospital stay.
5. Jingle Bell Run
Another festive idea would be to participate in a Jingle Bell Run. They are held across the country to support the Arthritis Foundation. To be honest, I had no idea these holiday runs supported a non-profit. I thought is was just a run hosted by cities to get people into the holiday spirit. I LOVE that it helps a worthwhile organization.
The proceeds from these runs go towards raising awareness and funds to support research for better treatments and a cure. My mom suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for so many years. I’m glad I now know about the Jingle Bell Run’s cause. I might just give this run a try this year!
One other fun thing about this run is that a lot people wear some sort of festive clothing. It might just be some holiday socks or a whole out fit. What a great way to get into the holiday spirit!
6. Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is an organization that helps us to remember & honor our American heroes. Every December, this organization coordinates the laying of wreaths at over 2,500 locations across the United States on National Wreaths Across America Day. This organization started quietly in 1992 by the Worcester Wreath Company. That year, the company chose to put all surplus wreaths in veteran cemeteries.
In 2008, Congress voted to make December 13th officially Wreaths Across America Day. You can donate wreaths for this day, or you can help place the wreaths at the cemetery. At the time of this writing, $15 is the cost to sponsor each wreath.
The Wreaths Across America events are held on either the second or third Saturday in December. To find a location near you, click here.
7. Mobile Meal Pack for Feed My Starving Children
The Feed My Starving Children meal pack is a fun way to volunteer as a group. I have volunteered for a meal pack with friends and family. If you have a group of friends that want to give back during the holidays, I encourage you to check out this volunteer opportunity.
The meal pack is comprised of many meal pack stations that operate in an assembly line format. Each person at a station is responsible for one portion of creating the pack. You might be scooping or weighing the food, sealing the pack, or filling the box of meal packs. I believe there are around 7 or so tasks for each meal pack station. So it’s even more fun if you can get enough people for one station.
If for some reason you can’t stand for a long time, you can work on putting labels on the meal pack bags.
Volunteers under 18, you will need to be accompanied by an adult. A group of students might need multiple adults. Check out the requirements here.
8. Volunteer at a Food Bank
In the United States, millions of people face hunger every single day. If the problem of world hunger tugs at your heart, volunteering at a food bank will help you be part of the solution. Food banks have many options for volunteers that want to help solve the food insecurity problem in our country. Feeding America has a nationwide network of food banks. To find one near you, click here.
If you have a distribution center near you then you will have lots of choices for volunteering. Typical tasks might include sorting, bagging, and boxing food.
Often times there are mobile pantries setup at various churches in the community. Here you will might help unload, set up and distribute food directly to those in need.
Please check the age guidelines for the the food bank you choose. Certain ages might need to be accompanied by an adult. Also, remember to check out the attire guidelines. I know my local food bank requires closed-toe shoes. Just want to make sure when you arrive, you can definitely volunteer.
9. Host a Holiday Dog Toy Making Party for Local Animal Shelters
Are you looking for Christmas volunteer opportunities that help our furry friends? Animal shelters always need new toys for the dogs. Gather a group of friends with some holiday themed fleece and make tug toys for some well-deserving animals. You might just help a dog get adopted when someone passes by their cage and sees how happy they are with their new toy.
You can use up to 4 different colors of fleece and it should be 24″ to 36″ long. Cut the material so you have 4 strips of equal size that are 1-2″ wide by 24-36″ long. Click here to see a YouTube video on exactly how to make these toys. Keep in mind they might be using a different size of fabric, but the process is the same. The end result is a tug toy that the dogs will love!
10. Holiday Parade Volunteer
There are so many parades around Thanksgiving and Christmas! I know you probably immediately think of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The Christmas season officially starts at the end of that parade. Ever want to know how they organize or put on such an entertaining event? The best way to find out is to volunteer! Big and small cities alike have holiday parades. Just search for “holiday parade near me”.
Volunteer positions might include the following:
- Bleacher Host
- Banner Carrier
- Block Captain
- Pooper Scooper Clown (for the horses) 🙂
This post is all about Christmas Volunteer Opportunities.
If you are looking for Christmas volunteer opportunities, I hope you have found some inspiration here! Who knows, you might just start a holiday tradition!
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