Christmas is the season of giving, as they say, but the getting part is the focus of plenty of kids around here.
It's always an excellent idea to get your kids involved in volunteer projects and community work all year. But, for those of us with more than we need, the holidays are a great time to drive home the point that not all of us are so lucky. These are tough times and there are folks in our community who could use some help,
So, for the third year, I worked with the United Way of the Greater Triangle, who shared some easy ways for kids - from tots to teens - to help out this time of year. Today, our focus is on opportunities for young children. Tomorrow, we'll have more for tweens and teens.
Megan Fitzgerald at the United Way passed on these great ideas for spreading holiday cheer by being a volunteer. Thank you, Megan!
Here are her recommendations for volunteering opportunities for young children:
- Toy drives and donations are always needed during the holidays. You can sponsor a child through organizations such as Learning Together and you can help the Genesis Home by creating a barrel of joy with essential household items for families in need.
- Holiday cards are a fun and creative way to teach your little ones kindheartedness. You can visit local assisted living facilities, police stations and fire houses to drop off the cards and spread a little holiday cheer.
- Stuffed animals are a favorite toy of many young ones and one way to share a holiday hug would be to drop off some at a local children’s hospital. Please call ahead to be sure the hospital can accept the stuffed animals. (Editor's Note: The Comfort Project, a local group, does accept stuffed animals for sick children).
- Food donations are always needed by many different organizations including Boys and Girls Clubs, rescue missions and various groups that support families in need. Host a neighborhood food drive and let your neighbors drop off items in a box in your driveway.
- Get a group together to visit local assisted living facilities and spread a little holiday cheer by singing holiday carols.
Specific agencies that could use some help:
- Salvation Army of Johnston County – Food basket donations
- Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina – Help in the food banks and pantries.
- Genesis Home – Create a barrel of joy with essential household items
- Local Boys and Girls Clubs – Winter clothing donations, healthy snacks, board games and art supplies are needed
- Learning Together – Sponsor a child during the holiday season
If you're looking for more ways to help out, the United Way of the Greater Triangle's "Get Connected" software helps people find out about local nonprofit agencies and volunteer opportunities, in-kind needs, events and job openings.
Fitzgerald recommends that it's always best to visit a nonprofit's website to learn more about their goals and objectives and to find the group's volunteer coordinator who can help answer any questions. You can follow the United Way on Facebook and Twitter too for regular information about volunteer opportunities.
And mark your calendars: The 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is Jan. 21. Service projects will be taking place across the Triangle. Go to the "Get Connected" site to sign up.
If you want to talk to somebody directly, Fitzgerald is more than happy to field your questions. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we'll have more from Fitzgerald and the United Way tomorrow!
Looking for other holiday ideas? Check out Go Ask Mom's Holiday Central.