With the holiday season in full swing, it’s easy to get caught up in shopping lists, decorating, and attending celebrations with friends and family. In the upcoming weeks, set aside time in your busy schedule to connect with and give back to your community. Not only is volunteering a major mood booster, but you’re also sure to make new friends and feel a greater sense of purpose.
Here are some easy ways to spread holiday magic in your neighborhood while experiencing what the holidays are all about–giving.
Volunteer at Your Local Soup Kitchen
Soup kitchens rely on volunteers to support their mission, so signing up for a shift or two to provide hot meals for those who need them goes a long way. Organizations like Hospitality Kitchen, aka “The Hippie Kitchen,” and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in Central LA are looking for generous spirits to serve healthy meals with a smile. Getting involved is as simple as creating an online account and selecting a date and time that works with your schedule. Create a special family memory and teach your kids about the good in giving back by registering as a group.
Donate Your Skills and Experience
Nonprofits need help with all facets of their organization. Everyone has the skills or talents to complete at least one meaningful service or project. For example, if you’re a good writer, you can draft grant requests, press releases, or ask letters. You may even get to be Santa for a day! Some organizations write and deliver letters from Santa and need creative writers to pen them.
Love singing Christmas carols? Volunteer at a nursing home or children’s hospital to spread joy to patients and the medical staff who cares for them. You’ll remember their smiles and laughter long after the season is over.
Canned Food Donations
If you’d prefer to donate items, numerous shelters and community fridges need canned goods or other nonperishable items to supply meals to many families in your community. Even a seemingly small donation goes a long way in helping a family enjoy a delicious holiday dinner. Organizations like Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and World Harvest Food Bank have the days, times, and drop-off locations listed on their website. Check to see what kinds of food and items are most needed, add a few to your grocery list, and deliver them at a convenient time.
Small businesses are dependent on the holiday season to flourish throughout the year. Supporting your local mom-and-pop restaurants, boutiques, and services is a simple way to give back and an opportunity to shop for unique gifts while connecting with your neighbors. Purchase eclectic finds for book lovers at The Library Store, boho jewelry and accessories at Tenzin Imports, and vinyl records and vintage electronics at Common Wave Hi-Fi.
The Los Angeles community is a vibrant population with authentic food from across the globe, exciting events, and hidden treasures. However, the city of angels also has the second to the largest unhoused community in the United States, and the numbers continue to climb. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reports a 1.7% increase in homelessness In 2022. This group relies on services from organizations like Midnight Mission for food and emergency shelter and always needs extra helping hands. A few hours of your time will help this group access food, blankets, and other necessities to survive harsh, cold nights.
The holiday season is a time of joy, reflection, and spending time with loved ones. This year, give the gift of service to those who need warmth and cheer the most. You’ll be surprised how meaningful the experience will be for you. It may become one of your favorite memories of 2022.