Holiday Giving: How to Volunteer from Home

The season of giving is here! Now that the lights are up and the holiday spirit is in full swing, many people are looking for ways to give back to their communities. Some of us have traditions of serving at shelters, singing carols at retirement homes or making meals for the hungry. But since the pandemic hit, many of our long-standing rituals have changed. So how can we still help those in need this season while maintaining safety during these uncertain times? There’s a lot you can do if you have an internet connection, some helping hands and a willing spirit.

Here are three organizations that could use your help from home.

  1. UNICEF Global Vaccine Campaign — UNICEF is working to deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the world. If you want to help their mission, you can advocate by sending a letter to your elected officials, donate or start a fundraiser. All the resources are available on their website.
  2. Become a Crisis Counselor — If you have time to devote to training and want to do some meaningful work, becoming a crisis counselor is a great way to give back. Crisis counselors answer text messages from people going through distressing situations. By listening to what is going on in the individual’s life, the counselor helps de-escalate the moment through problem solving and safety planning.
  3. Volunteer at Smithsonian — There are multiple ways you can serve online at Smithsonian. From transcription services to solving the mystery of the Archives of American Gardens, the institution provides unique ways to give back.

Volunteering from your computer is one option, but you also can involve family and friends in more hands-on activities.

  1. Write cards to vulnerable communities. A warm holiday greeting is a great way to lift someone’s spirit. Whether they go to isolated individuals in retirement homes or soldiers overseas, breaking out the construction paper, markers and stickers is a wonderful way to have fun with family and friends. You can even invite long distance loved ones to join in and work together on the cards via Zoom or FaceTime.
  2. Donate gifts. Organizations like the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree and the Marine’s Toys for Tots are always looking for gift donations. You can go shopping with your family and friends to find what items local children are hoping for this holiday. Items can be dropped off to maintain social distancing.
  3. Collect food items. While volunteering at a food bank may not be in the cards this year, donating food is a safe and meaningful option! Whether you decide to order the groceries to your home or go out and purchase them, you can make an impact.

The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for many of us. If you feel like you don’t have a lot of time or bandwidth, nonprofits are always looking for financial donations. These organizations can’t survive without the help of their supporters.

To broaden the scope, you can promote giving throughout your community by opening a virtual giving campaign. Consider enlisting the help of family, friends or co-workers to donate to a charity you all are passionate about and work toward a common fundraising goal.

There are plenty of ways you can give back this holiday season, even if it doesn’t look like years past. It just takes a little research, creativity and cheer!