International Volunteer Day
Today on International Volunteer Day, we celebrate globally the contributions that volunteers make that better society every day of the year. Our Duke of Ed participants are no strangers to community service – it is a requirement of earning the Award after all. That is why we thought today would be the perfect day to share our list of top 5 ways you can volunteer over the Holidays. Whether it’s to complete your Award section, or just because you are feeling particularly giving this season, here are a few ways that you can channel that holiday giving spirit.
The Holidays are traditionally about giving gifts to family and friends, but how often do we think about gifting strangers? It’s easy to forget that 3.2 million Canadians are living in poverty, including over 634 000 children, but the Holidays are a perfect time to remember. Why not channel your inner Santa and put some of that gift giving spirit to use by picking up a little something extra for a kid in need? All Things Christmas is a great resource that provides many links to different charities that facility gift giving. Often times, your local church, police station or fire hall will have a tree that lets you pick the name of a child to buy for.
2. Host a Holiday giving party
Holidays parties are arguably the best part about the season. It’s a chance to connect with friends and colleagues while wearing ugly sweaters and drinking egg-nog. But do you really need another vanilla scented candle from cousin Susie? Instead of having a gift exchange, why not challenge everyone to bring a non-perishable food item, some warm clothes, blankets, books or toys that you can donate to your local shelter?
Who doesn’t like getting mail? If you consider yourself a little on the shy side, and find volunteering intimidating, why not put pen to paper (I know, so old-school) and write a few well wishes on some post-cards? This is something you can get in the habit of doing year-round, but is especially fun with seasonal cards. Organizations like Send Kids the World provide mailing addresses for kids who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. Alternatively, Postcards for Peace is an initiative specific to Canada that provides an opportunity for youth to send postcards to express messages of thanks to those who served Canada during times of conflict.
Is there a better way to get into the Holiday spirit then decorating? Even the Grinch couldn’t resist a beautifully lit tree and some carols. But decorations never seem as beautiful if you have no one to share them with (cheesy, but you know I’m right). Maybe you’ve hung up about as many lights as your hydro bill can muster, and you’re feeling a little bummed that your walls can’t handle another stocking. Why not take you savvy decorating designs to a hospital, or nursing home? Anyone who’s put up a tree knows that hanging the ornaments is half the fun of admiring the finished project. Many ill or senior folk would love the chance to enjoy the spirit of the Holidays with some decorating cheer. So pop on some Christmas carols (Alvin and the Chipmunks anybody?) and deck those halls!
One of the many joys of the Holidays is sitting around a table with our family and friends to enjoy a nice, warm, home cooked meal. Unfortunately, not everyone is afforded this luxury. Programs like Meals on Wheels provide nutritional means for vulnerable adults who are unable to afford or cook nourishing dinners for themselves. Meal delivery is a great way to get to know the people in your community, along with allowing them the dignity of independence in their own home.