During the year I go on-line to freebie sites. I get a lot of samples in the mail and save them up for stocking stuffers and care boxes. These care boxes are made up to send to overseas soldiers, my local woman's shelters, and convalescence hospitals, depending on how much I can get a hold of. In these boxes are toiletries, socks, activity booklets, pens, and a small little gift that I have handmade.
By Lorna from Clinton, OK
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Get into the spirit of the holiday by playing Santa for a friend or neighbor in need. By "in need", I don't just mean financially; there are so many people who are alone on the holiday.
It's that time of the year when most children are wanting gifts from Santa. While that is typical, please teach your children that giving is more important than getting.
My 95 year old Mother found buying and wrapping gifts for her 50 descendants was too big a chore. We took a picture of her on her birthday and printed 50 wallet size photos and bought her Christmas cards and postage stamps. Now we will enjoy sitting with her and helping address the cards. She loved the idea.
If you participate in Christmas gift charities, such as Operation Christmas Child and the like, here is a tip to make giving those gifts much easier and which will also have you thinking of the recipients all year long!
If you possibly can, PLEASE pick a name from church or store, or anywhere that you can, to buy for a complete stranger for Christmas. We have a "Share a Christmas" gift at our church, and it may be someone from there or someone that a member thought might need a little help.
Christmas Decorations For Needy Neighbors. I live in an urban neighborhood with a wide range of income levels. Last Christmas, I noticed that my elderly neighbor lady didn't have a Christmas wreath or any decorations on her door.
In Canada, we have coins for $1 and $2. I start saving them in mid-November and put about $20 worth in my coat pocket at Christmas time whenever I go out. Each time I see a Salvation Army donation globe, I drop some coins in.
Working in a Soup Kitchen for the homeless on Christmas would show our kids what giving really is. I am planning on doing this with my family this Christmas.
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I would like to start a tradition with my teenage boys this Christmas to volunteer at a shelter or possibly locate a family in need that we can deliver presents and food to. We live in Hamilton County.
By Gina from Atlanta, IN
20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Other People by Volunteering
Have you ever thought about volunteering your time to a local charity or community organization? There are many different reasons for you to start volunteering:
One of the hardest parts of volunteering can be finding a volunteering opportunity that fits your personality. The following list will give you lots of different ideas and will show you many different possibilities. Look in your local area until you find a volunteer position that works for you.
If you live in a city of any size, then there is at least one homeless shelter that helps homeless people with meals, beds and other services. Most homeless shelters welcome volunteers and have a variety of programs through which you can get involved. You might help prepare or distribute meals, work behind the scenes in the business office, help organize a food drive to stock the pantry, etc. You can learn more about the problem of homelessness and ways you can help by looking at this site. Look in the phone book for a local homeless shelter if you are interested.
Food banks often work with homeless shelters, but they also serve poor people living in the community (especially around the holidays). Food banks collect food, manage their inventory and distribute food to those in need. The following link shows you the different volunteer opportunities available at food banks around the country:
If you would like something to do in your spare time at home, one innovative way to volunteer is to get involved in The Guideposts Sweater Project, sponsored by Guideposts magazine. People around the country knit sweaters that are then sent to needy children around the world. This article gives you a description of the project and a pattern for the sweaters. Don't know how to knit? Not a problem, because the article also links to sites that teach you how!
Ronald McDonald House
There are Ronald McDonald Houses around the country - almost every major city has one. The idea behind all Ronald McDonald Houses is very important. When a child is seriously ill, the child is frequently treated for long periods of time at a hospital or university medical center. Many families have to travel long distances to get to the hospital, and "where to stay" becomes a problem. Staying at a hotel becomes extremely expensive, and a hotel can be a lonely and sterile place. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a low-cost "home-away-from-home" for parents and children to stay during treatment. Volunteers help prepare meals, talk to families, take care of the house and so on. The programs offered at the Dallas Ronald McDonald House are typical, and you can read about volunteer opportunities there. Then call the Ronald McDonald House in your area to find out more.
As described on the web site for Special Olympics International, "Special Olympics is an international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental retardation." The site also describes a wide variety of volunteer activities, including sports training, fund raising, administrative help, competition planning and staffing, etc. Look in the phone book for a local office or search the Special Olympics Web Site for more information.
Habitat for Humanities
Habitat for Humanities builds and gives houses to poor people in local communities. Volunteers not only help others, but can learn a great deal about building houses by getting involved. See the Habitat for Humanities web site for more information. Call the national office or your local office for information about volunteer programs in your area.
Many state parks offer volunteer programs, and in these programs you can try anything from educational programs to trail construction and maintenance. This site for the North Carolina State Park system shows some of the possibilities available. Contact a state park near you and see what options are available if you are interested.
Most large cities offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities. Look in the phone book and call around to see what might be available where you live. [Do not be discouraged if your first few calls seem to hit a brick wall. Many city governments are large and fairly disorganized. Keep calling around until you find someone who understands what you are talking about and who is willing to help.]
Helping Others Learn to Read
When you think about it, reading is one of the most important skills an adult can have. Many adults, however, have never learned how to read. Literacy volunteers act as tutors who help illiterate children and adults learn this important skill. There is probably a literacy program in your area. See also Reading Is Fundamental (RIF).
Many hospitals have volunteer programs to help patients both inside and outside the hospital. This page for the Summit Medical Center is typical. The volunteers programs allow participants to explore medical careers and gain work experience. Contact local hospitals to learn more about opportunities in your area.
Many libraries need help reshelving books, running children's programs, making books available to the community, and so on. This program specifically for teens at Phoenix Public Libraries trains teen volunteers to assist library staff and the public during the Summer Reading Program. Contact a local library for volunteer opportunities in your area.
Senior Citizens Centers
Many senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship and community activities to senior citizens. If you would like working with senior citizens, call a senior citizen center in your neighborhood and see what kinds of volunteer programs they have available.
The United Way is a nationwide umbrella organization for thousands of charitable organizations. The United Way raises billions of dollars and distributes it to these charities. There are local United way affiliates across the country and they need volunteers. Contact your local affiliate for more information.
The American Red Cross helps people in emergencies - whether it's half a million disaster victims or one sick child who needs blood. Volunteer opportunities exist across the country. Contact your local Red Cross for more information.
The Salvation Army provides social services, rehabilitation centers, disaster services, worship opportunities, character building activities for all ages and character building groups and activities for all ages. Volunteer opportunities exist across the country.
The Sierra Club (and numerous other environmental groups) encourages volunteer support to help with environmental activities. You can help in many ways: by helping lobby on conservation issues, by leading hikes and other activities, or by lending a hand at the Chapter Office. Contact the local office of an environmental organization near you.
If it's an election year, there are thousands of opportunities to volunteer in political campaigns around the country. You can learn more than you imagine by helping a candidate win election. This article talks about some of the options. Pick a candidate whose ideas you believe in (either on the local, state or national level) and volunteer to be a part of his or her campaign.
800 Number Volunteer
Many 800 help-lines rely on volunteers to staff the phones and handle other tasks. If there is an 800 phone bank in your area, you may be able to volunteer to help out.
Many small charities and organizations do not yet have web sites. You can help by learning how to create a web site and volunteering your services. You could also raise money to pay for the web site, or seek help from a local company in the form of a donation. When creating a web site for a charity, you will want to take care to listen very carefully to the people who work for the charity to understand exactly what they want their web site to look and feel like. This will be extremely important to them.
You may have things like we do here on the gulf coast, like the waterfront rescue mission, and of course there is salvation army, who help people, especially during the holidays, but actually all year. You could take them to senior care facilities to visit with, read to, take cards to, give small gifts to people who do not always have visitors, which can be very depressing on "special" days or seasons. We enjoy jigsaw puzzles, but usually only work them once, so pass them on to a senior care facility, (I refuse to call them "nursing homes). If the desire is there, you will find places to go, and ways to serve. How about working at a food distribution center for a day.
We also load up boxes of non perishable foods as we manage to get them together, and take to our church, who has emergency supplies for members, or strangers in need. Sometimes that takes a bit of time as we are on social security and have med. Bills, the whole nine yards, but this is just something we feel compelled to do. Your family would get an idea as to how fortunate they are, compared to so many others. You are doing a great thing to want your kids to develop this attitude. Bless you.
In these sad times many people need help. If you can't give money, give of yourself and include family members.
God bless those who reach out to make a difference!
Gina, you have a great idea and bless you for acting on it. If you want to stay local till you develop your helping wings, start with your local antique tractor clubs. Many do some sort of Christmas deal for the community. It's hard to get the info you need from the local schools and so forth. Being a part of the tractor club helped open doors. You could always ask the school for shopping info and you could deliver the packages back to the school for "whom ever". Other than that, contact your closest homeless shelter. Ask for a generalized head count per whatever day or weekend you plan on being there and make and deliver gift sacks (socks/razors/soap/shampoo/gloves/hats/jerky/crackers/tuna packets...). Email back to me if you wish. nellie2b2004 AT yahoo.com. Nellie from Fairland, IN.
I am looking for help for a friend of mine who has schizophrenia. She lives alone, and I check on her. She doesn't do well with people. She gets disability once a month. I am trying to get some help for her for Christmas. Can anyone direct me to a site that can help her?
She needs things like: sticky note pads, pens, and household supplies. She also needs a bed or a bigger air mattress; hers is on the floor. She could use some personal things too. Thank you.
Check with your department of social services. They might know of someplace that can help her. As far as a bed goes, go to the office of your local Salvation Army and tell them she needs a bed, and they will give a voucher to take to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and if the store has any beds they will give her one, however, somebody will more than likely have to transport it. There might be other organizations that provide help like that, too. It just depends on where you live. The Salvation Army might also help with some little gifts for her. Although most of the organizations that provide gifts for people have an age cut off limit of 12 years.
If your friend is 55 or older, the Department of Social Services should have a program called something like Adult Services for Aging. I don't know if they would help with a bed, but they have bought a shower bench for me and a walker. Also, nationwide there is a program that basically is called Opportunities for Independent Living, they also help with different things.
The big problem finding that organization is they have different names in different towns. Where I live it is called one thing and where my sisters live it has a different name. Somebody at Social Services should be able to help you find it, and if they can't I would contact some of your congress people.
If you have a minister talk to him, he might know some people in the church that have a bed, and some of the other little bit larger things that she needs. Sometimes a minister will take up an anonymous free will offering of cash or items that you tell him she needs. It is always good to have a minister as an acquaintance.
Is there an organization that collects used/clean toys at Christmas time to be given to needy children? I know there are ones that collect new toys, but a lot of children outgrow their toys and they are still in very good shape and would be greatly appreciated by another child and his/her family. I lived in St Petersburg, FL and was a single mom and they had an organization that helped me with some used toys when my children were small. I was so happy to see my childrens' faces and they didn't know they were used toys, as they looked new.
If there isn't such an organization I would love to get with others to start such a place. Sometimes there aren't enough new toys to go around and in today's economy there are a lot of families that need help.
By Jane B from Ocala, FL
Make each Christmas more memorable and charitable by helping out a needy family. This is a page about helping a needy family this Christmas.