Updated 10/4/18 for relevancy.
Guest post by Maile Proctor
When the holiday season rolls around, many of us cherish the time we get to spend with our loved ones. During this time, however, it’s also easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the season. Hectic travel schedules and frenzied last-minute shopping can make the holidays more stressful than they need to be. So instead of getting caught up in what gifts to buy, spend some time thinking about how you can give back to those who may be less fortunate. After all, giving back is the best way to spread holiday cheer.
There are countless opportunities to volunteer and lend a helping hand during the holidays, but part of volunteering is understanding why you should help others. Here are nine fantastic reasons to volunteer this holiday season.
Please keep in mind, however, that because the holidays are such a popular time to volunteer, many nonprofits already have shifts filled for the holidays. And nonprofits need just as much help throughout the year as they do at the end of the year. So even if you can’t find the perfect chance to give back during the holidays, there’s still plenty you can do to help out in the new year.
- You Have More Time
Most people are off work or home from school during the holidays, so this makes it even easier to find some time to help those in need during the holidays or in the new year. Throughout the year, we can easily get caught up in our day-to-day responsibilities, and it can be hard to carve out the time needed to volunteer.
You never know, if you enjoy your volunteering experience (and you most likely will), you’ll be more liable to seek out service opportunities down the road.
- You Can Give Someone (or a Family) a Warm Meal
Most of us overindulge during the holidays. We spend time cooking too much food, fill our plates with huge portions, go back for seconds and dessert, and end up feeling too full to move. Instead of spending your entire day preparing food (if you already have more than enough to go around), why not offer your time and service at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or donate food to those in need? You can do your part to ensure underprivileged members of your community get a nice, warm meal.
Think about the families you can help. When you see the smiles on their faces, you’ll know how much they appreciate your time. You’ll have a more fulfilling holiday, and you’ll still have a chance to go home and enjoy your family feast.
- Volunteering Spreads Holiday Cheer
Donating food, cooking, serving a meal aren’t the only ways to help those in need this holiday season. While many of us may get stressed out about family gatherings, think of the individuals who don’t have their family near to spend time with.
You can volunteer to help veterans in your community, get involved with a hospital that puts on a holiday celebration for patients, volunteer at a retirement home, and so much more.
- You Can Lead by Example
With so many family members around during the holidays, why not set a good example for the little ones (or even the stubborn adults)? Lead by example: share your plans to volunteer and explain why you want to be of service. Then encourage your family to register for kid and teen-friendly volunteer opportunities in your area.
Help your family, especially the younger members, understand some of the benefits of volunteering.
- Make it a Family Affair
Besides just explaining the benefits of volunteering to your family, get everyone involved! It’s quality time you can spend together, or a distraction if you need one since you’ll be preoccupied with helping others.
Volunteering is an excellent way to spend time with family and make a difference. According to Nancy Mann Jackson from Parenthood, “For today’s families who rarely have time to spend together — much less, the time to add another commitment to the schedule — volunteering can actually be a solution.”
Getting involved in your children’s classroom activities is another great way to give back, and you can do this any time of the year. Offer to volunteer as a chaperone on school field trips, for example. It’s a great opportunity to spend quality family time and check out new places.
- You’ll Get Back Just as Much as You Give
Volunteering is not working for free. Sure, there’s no monetary compensation, but you get just as much (if not more) out of it than you put in. You gain countless benefits from volunteering including health benefits such as a boost in your mood, happiness, and satisfaction. According to these facts on kindness, “Performing good deeds for others, even in as little as a 10-day span, has been reported to boost happiness and life satisfaction.”
- You Can Try Something New
Because of all the different volunteer opportunities available to you during the holidays — like teaching, building, crafting and more — you have the chance to try something new or something you never thought of trying before. Who knows, you might even discover a new hobby or passion, or you may stumble upon a hidden talent!
- Volunteering Builds Personal Relationships
Volunteering is one of the best ways to connect with your community, make new friends, and boost your social skills, which is important for both adults and children.
When you help people in need, you create a special bond with them, and you also build strong relationships with the people you volunteer alongside. Your fellow volunteers may be people outside of your social bubble; people you may not interact with under normal circumstances. Volunteer groups bring like-minded individuals together for a good cause and create avenues to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
- It Helps You Appreciate What You Have
Helping someone in need can put things into perspective. It’s an eye-opening experience that helps us count our blessings and realize the things we should be grateful for. Volunteering can help you adopt this attitude of gratitude.
There are so many different ways to give. With VolunteerMatch, it couldn’t be easier to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Remember, although we encourage volunteering during the holidays, it’s important for nonprofits to have volunteers year-round. Have a safe and healthy holiday season, and have fun giving back!
Why do you enjoy volunteering? Let us know in the comments below!
Author Bio: Maile Proctor is a full-time blogger and content editor. She earned her Bachelor’s in Television Production from Chapman University. When she’s not writing she enjoys hiking; finding new, fun fitness activities; and officiating basketball in Southern California.