5 Ways to Give Back During the Holidays

With the holidays, most college students are looking forward to relaxing after the stress of exam week, spending time with their friends and family, and enjoying the warmth of the season. However, there are many people who are less fortunate, and could use the help of those who are more privileged. If you have some spare time on your hands over break and you’re looking for some great ways to give back this holiday season, try the following.

  • Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens

A very popular option is to volunteer at a food pantry or a soup kitchen, either by serving the patrons, or helping to set up or prepare the food. Around the holiday season, many places like these experience an influx of patrons and are in desperate need of volunteers.

Serving at a local food pantry can help you get in touch with the need in your community, and feel great about helping those less fortunate. It’s amazing to interact with people, and to know you’re helping them to get a warm meal and some great company during the holidays.

  • Toys for Tots

Many local charity and non profit organizations across the country put together a Toys for Tots drive around Christmas, where people can donate new, unwrapped toys to be given to children in need.

They often need many volunteers both to help set up the tables of toys (which are often strategically categorized by age group, size, and style of toy) and to help the parents and children pick out items. How cool would it be to get to hang out with some adorable kids all day, and on top of that, know that you’re helping to make their holiday season much better with one simple act.

  • Salvation Army Bell Ringer

You’ve all seen them – the people in red aprons standing on street corners and in front of stores during the holidays, ringing their bells. Chances are that you’ve slipped a handful of change or some crumpled dollar bills into their little red buckets. But have you ever seriously thought about them? These people stand out in the freezing cold, sometimes in awful winter conditions for the sake of their charity. They certainly aren’t paid to stand there and ring a bell, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

So maybe you’d consider donning the red vest and ringing the silver bell to raise money for those in need. Chances are, if you do, that you’ll get to witness just how great some people can be – and you probably won’t avert your gaze and smile awkwardly the next time you encounter a fellow bell ringer at your local supermarket. As well you shouldn’t – these people just want to give back.

  • Caroling

Many towns, schools, and churches organize groups of carolers during the holidays to go and sing in places such as nursing homes and hospitals to those bedridden patients who may not be able to enjoy the sounds of the season otherwise. Hearing all the lovely carols can really perk these people up, and make their days much brighter.

Even if you’re not American Idol worthy material, grab a group of friends and slap on some Santa hats, and look at that, you’ve got a caroling group! If you know someone who can actually play songs on the guitar (or sing, or play harmonica, or anything really), it’s all the better. Make sure to check with the nurse on duty or call ahead before you traipse in there, however, to ensure that it’s a good time for everyone involved.

  • Assisting Shut-Ins

You can always offer to bring leftover holiday meals to elderly neighbors who may not be able to get out themselves, or who may not have anywhere to go for the holidays. A few kind words go a long way, and the food would always be a help.

Additionally, offering to shovel snow, wrap presents, or clean and decorate or undecorated for some may be extremely helpful as well.

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Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson is a freshman at Central Michigan University, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Elizabeth is a member of the CMU Honors Program, and is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life, the student run campus newspaper. When she’s not in school, she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching movies, and enjoys traveling and performing in plays.
Elizabeth Benson

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