The 2020 holidays are officially here! This year might look very different than most, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the season — and that includes by participating in community volunteer opportunities.
It might feel great to get a gift or attend various festivals around town, but consider lending your time and effort to helping those who might be less fortunate to really get a sense of the holiday spirit. It also might be a great opportunity to connect with others during a year that has otherwise been pretty isolating.
There are many community service opportunities in the Washington, D.C. area, whether you are an animal lover or committed to making sure that people all over the city have enough food to celebrate mealtimes with their families. It can be difficult to locate the right opportunity, though, so we’ve rounded up a few volunteer opportunities throughout greater D.C.
This guide will help you find one that is just right for you.
Important Things to Know About Volunteering During the Holidays
Before you start your community volunteer journey, there are a few important things to consider:
- The holiday season is a very popular time for many people to get involved with local charitable organizations.
- You should be prepared for longer telephone wait times to speak to organizers or fuller-than-normal shifts at certain times of the day or week.
- There will likely be additional safety precautions in place to safeguard against exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Some organizations might require a negative COVID-19 test or another proof of health before they allow you to partake in in-person volunteering.
- Be patient and know that these organizations want the best for the community (even though it might seem like a bit more inconvenience upfront).
Ultimately, the rewarding experience at one of these volunteer opportunities will likely cancel out any possible inconveniences. Just plan ahead, and you will be all set.
Where Volunteers Can Make a Difference
There are so many places around the Washington, D.C. area that will be happy to welcome volunteers during the holiday season. Here are just a few neighborhood favorites, curated in one place for you to review. Pick the one that speaks to you, and get set to experience the joy of the season.
Bread for the City
Bread for the City is an organization that focuses on providing low-income individuals in the Washington, D.C. area with opportunities to improve their lives. It provides food, medical care, clothing, and access to social services — all intended to nourish and uplift these communities. Bread for the City always welcomes volunteers and traditionally hosts several fundraisers and opportunities to serve throughout the year. Contact its staff to see which options are available this holiday season.
The Salvation Army
An international, Biblically based ministry, The Salvation Army has become linked with the holiday season and the spirit of giving. While it hosts many fundraisers and events all around the world, there is a way volunteers can get involved right at home in the Washington area — by becoming a volunteer bell ringer! The Salvation Army welcomes volunteers of all ages, and has COVID-19 safety protocols in place for all bell ringers, including wearing a mask at all times.
Capital Area Food Bank
The Capital Area Food Bank is a well-respected organization that has remained in operation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to serve Washington-area people in need. It focuses on providing healthy, nutritious foods to people of all ages, and regularly partners with programs that provide health care, job education, and educational needs opportunities. The Capital Area Food Bank distributes an average of 88,000 meals daily, too, and always welcome the opportunity to get volunteers involved in fundraisers and community-focused events.
The Humane Rescue Alliance
Our furry friends have definitely been affected by the recent pandemic, but some people might not feel comfortable stopping by shelters full of other individuals to find their next pets. The Humane Rescue Alliance not only works to take care of animals, but also to provide people with companion animals through foster and adoption services — and it needs volunteers to make those goals happen. With multiple adoption events coming up, there are plenty of ways to get involved and serve your local community.
Virtual Volunteering This Holiday Season
If you don’t want to get out of the house this season, but still want to get involved with the community, check out the many virtual opportunities for volunteers going on in the D.C. area. Lots of organizations are featuring virtual fundraisers and events that allow you to make a difference without leaving the comfort and safety of your home.
Capital Caring Health
For those with a passion for home health care and helping the elderly, Capital Caring Health might be a great volunteer option. The organization offers a wide variety of support services, from in-home hospice care to veteran’s health services. Even with strict COVID-19 protocols in place, there are many volunteer opportunities available. Capital Caring Health has a number of openings for volunteers to make supportive phone calls to the elderly or infirm, including “tuck in” calls or check-in phone calls.
The Birthday Giving Program
Many underprivileged people in the D.C. area might not have the luxury of celebrating their birthday in the traditional way that many others do. The Birthday Giving Program is out to change that, with a mission to provide birthday giving bags and celebrations to people of all ages. You can get in on the fun and make a difference in someone’s life by participating in one of their many virtual volunteer opportunities, which offer contact-free ways to celebrate the season and do some good.
Women Giving Back
Women Giving Back has a simple mission: to empower women and change lives through the power of access to free professional clothing, which can open the door to work and other job opportunities. The organization is actively collecting baby supplies like diapers, wipes, and toiletries, as well as clothing and accessories for women and children. Sometimes a donation can feel just as good as a day spent on volunteer projects, so consider sorting some gently used professional clothing and making a donation.
As the year winds to a close, there is no better way to make a difference in someone’s life than by donating your time or resources to doing good in the community through the many volunteer work projects available. Hopefully, these suggestions will help to get you off to a good start, and empower you with the tools you need to be of service as a volunteer and make someone’s holiday season truly amazing.
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