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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Holiday Volunteering: The Gift of Giving

Hands open and outstretched holding small gift wrapped in brown paper and red yarn ribbon

Liza Summer/

As we indulge in magnificent feasts and open gifts in cozy living rooms, let’s pause to express gratitude for all that we have and look for ways to help those less fortunate. The holiday season is the time for giving. One of the best ways to get into the spirit is by volunteering time and treasure to meaningful causes and underprivileged individuals. Here are a few ideas.

Adopt a Family

Find a nearby impoverished family that could use a houseful of gifts, including toys, blankets and warm clothes, then do a little shopping and make their holiday dreams come true. Local social service agencies can help identify the lucky family.

Handmade Holiday Cards 

Spend an afternoon making holiday greeting cards to warm the hearts of lonely seniors, U.S. armed service members and children in hospitals battling serious illnesses. This is a great activity to do with kids—teaching them important lessons about kindness and generosity. For card-making ideas and distribution help: The Red CrossLove For Our EldersCards For Hospitalized Kids and Color A Smile

Toys for Tots

Nothing is sadder than a child without at least one holiday gift. Fortunately, several organizations and thousands of generous people do their very best to fill those empty little hands with merriment. Here are a few places that need donations of time, money and gifts: Toys For TotsSamaritans PurseSalvation Army and Operation Help A Hero.

Make a Blanket

Some kids could really use the cozy warmth and comfort of their very own security binky. Here are two organizations that provide blanket-making ideas and instructions, and also help facilitate their collection and distribution: Project Linus and Binky Patrol. This is a wonderful group project for families or classrooms. 

Holiday Meals 

Food insecurity is a serious problem in this country, and low-income families that rely on government assistance and food banks for everyday nutrition will likely not have the wherewithal for a holiday feast. Here’s where our help comes in. The following organizations either serve free holiday meals or give away food baskets: local churches, temples and mosques; Meals On Wheels America; neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens; and Salvation Army. 

Children Battling Illness and Troubled Families

Here are a few charities that accept monetary donations and sweat equity to aid children battling serious diseases or troubled family situations: St. Jude's Children Research HospitalOne Simple WishMake-A-Wish Foundation and Prison Fellowship.

Help for Neglected Pets and Imperiled Wildlife

These organizations accept donations of money and time: the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsNational Wildlife FederationBest Friends Animal SocietyFriends of AnimalsAnimal Welfare InstituteAlley Cat AlliesJane Goodall Institute; and The Humane Society of the United States.

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