The holidays are a busy time for many people. We scramble to get all our shopping done, to decorate our homes with sparkly lights and shiny ornaments, and to prepare holiday feasts fit for kings and queens.
Sometimes we get too caught up in the holiday festivities that we forget the essence of this time of year. At the heart of it all, holidays are a time to celebrate all that we are grateful for – good health, good fortune, and our family and friends.
One of the best ways to celebrate and express appreciation and gratitude for all that we have is to share these blessings with others in the community who may not be as fortunate as we are.
This year, help make the holiday season a special time for all Calgarians. There are plenty of little things that you can do to make a big difference in somebody else’s life. There’s no better time than this to let your generosity shine.
Here are a few ideas of what you can do to help out over the holidays.
1. Lend a hand at a homeless shelter.
MUSTARD SEED. Help Calgarians in need have a wonderful time this holiday season! There are TONS of opportunities to help out at the Mustard Seed. Provide festive entertainment, make cards, prepare sandwiches, serve meals, pack holiday hampers – and more! Click here for a list of things you can do to help out!
DROP IN CENTRE. Help keep Calgarians out of the cold this winter. Lend a hand at the Drop-In Centre. Click here for ways to volunteer.
2. Wrap presents to help raise funds.
MEALS ON WHEELS. Help Calgary Meals on Wheels raise funds for meal service programs for seniors, disabled, elementary school kids, and working homeless. Various gift-wrapping shifts from December 8 – 24. Click here for more information.
CALGARY FAMILY SERVICES. Are you looking for a meaningful teambuilding Christmas opportunity with your co-workers? All proceeds will go to the Calgary Family Services’ Nurture Yourself Program that teaches valuable techniques in empowering individuals and further developing their self esteem. This opportunity is available from December 1 – 24. Click here for more information.
CYSTIC FIBROSIS CANADA. If you have a talent for giftwrapping and enjoy working with people for a good cause, Cystic Fibrosis Canada will be setting up booths for their “Wrapping for a Cure” event from December 3 – 24. This is a fun and easy way to give some of your time and can include friends and family! The gift wrap has three Calgary locations where volunteers wrap gifts in exchange for a donation to the CF Foundation. Click here for more information.
HERTAGE PARK’s Once upon a Christmas. Each year, the Heritage Park is transformed to bring Christmas circa 1910 on the Prairies. The goal is to provide a festive experience with children’s crafts and activities, gingerbread decorating, retail, hospitality, and Santa and his reindeer. Volunteers are vital to the success of this event. Once Upon a Christmas runs for five weekends, beginning November 19 to December 18. Click here for more information.
CALGARY ZOO. Volunteering at the Calgary Zoo during Zoolights is a holiday tradition for many Calgarians – why not make it one of your new traditions? By participating in this major Calgary Zoo Special Event through hosting warm crackling fires or burning off the extra piece of shortbread in our Penguin Plunge Kids Zone, there is something for everyone! Various positions available throughout the event from November 24 – January 7, 2012. Click here to get involved.
4. Adopt a family.
CALGARY URBAN PROJECT SOCIETY. Yes, it is that time again!! Adopt a struggling family at Christmas so that they may have a fun time filled with the joy of seeing their children open their presents and the smell of Christmas dinner fixings wafting throughout their home. Your participation in the CUPS Adopt-A-Family program makes a great many people happy at a time when situations may seem hopeless, more so this year with the economic downturn. For more information, click here or contact Deanna Holt at 403-671-6564 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEIGHBOURLINK. Bring joy to your neighbors in the Calgary community who are struggling to make ends meet this Christmas. NeighbourLink’s Adopt a Family program is a wonderful opportunity for you (and your family) to reach out. Have fun buying a present for each member of the client-family, as well as a gift certificate for groceries and some Christmas treats! Connect with your adopted family and find out what would make their Christmas extra special. Click here for more information.
5. Be a Snow Angel.
Shovel your neighbours’ walkway and / or driveway and keep the streets safe for everyone. All you have to do to be a Snow Angel is simply adopt an older adult’s sidewalk this winter, and keep it clear. Watch for people in your neighbourhood that could use help removing snow from their sidewalks and driveways and ask if you can lend them a hand.
Alternatively, if you and your neighbours or other members of your community would like to develop a more organized snow clearing program, call the City of Calgary Seniors Services Divisionat 3-1-1. Read more about being a snow angel here.
6. Shop for others.
SAMARITAN’S PURSE. No time to shop but want to make a child’s Christmas morning happy? Pack shoe boxes online and support the work that Samaritan’s Purse is doing around the world. It’s a quick and meaningful way to do something good! The packed shoeboxes will be given to children in need in a developing country. Select from a variety of gift items for a boy or girl in each designated age group. Personalize each shoe box you pack with a photo and personal note. Click here to pack a shoebox online.
SANTA’S SECRET SERVICE. Can you help make Christmas merrier for isolated seniors? Santa’s Secret Service’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for individuals 60 years or older who are alone or isolated in the community. Every year, they provide gifts and services for up to 2,500 seniors who may otherwise be overlooked during the holiday season. Click here to see what they need.
NEIGHBOURLINK. Make sure that no child goes without a warm bed and the bare necessities. Have your group collect a crib or cribs and fill them with baby items like, diapers, formula, and baby food. Hold your drive for as long as you want and when the cribs are full donate all the items to NeighbourLink. This is an ideal group (family, employee) volunteering opportunity! Click here to get started.
The above are just a handful of ideas that can get you started. Hopefully, these will help get the creative juices flowing and get you thinking about the many ways you can make the season merry for everyone. If all else fails, give the best gift of all — the gift of time.
The options are endless and you can be as creative as you want about how you give of your time. Bake cookies to share, decorate somebody’s tree, sing uplifting Christmas carols, have a cup of coffee with someone — you can offer up your time and talents for a good cause, even if that just meant making another person’s day a little bit brighter.
Get into the spirit of giving and add more joy and meaning to your holiday season!
A word of warning: Once you get started volunteering, it can get quite addicting! Start volunteering this season and you just might find yourself volunteering all year round. For hundreds of volunteer opportunities, check out www.volunteercalgary.ab.ca
Happy holiday volunteering!