Want to volunteer for a cause but unsure of where to start?
By: Amanda Bengard
‘Tis the season for dozens of Amazon orders and frantic holiday shopping. Everyone is busy brainstorming the perfect gift ideas and the Staten Island mall experiences foot traffic resembling Time Square.
With incessant Peloton and SUV commercials on loop throughout day and nighttime television, it’s easy to feel like the best gift has to cost hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Amongst festive chaos, the holidays are a time where many Islanders count their blessings and want to give back instead of receiving in abundance. Volunteer work during the seasonal months and beyond could help bring joy and happiness to those less fortunate.
College students are likely to apply for volunteer positions this year for the benefit of their resume, career paths, and a greater sense of self. Volunteer work also relieves stress, as you spend a few hours each week focusing on others.
Instead of exchanging expensive items, grab a friend or a family member and bond through generous acts of kindness! Getting started requires some research and outreach but after deciding the right way to begin, it becomes second nature when implementing giving back in day to day living.
Most volunteer opportunities fit into a busy schedule, and can be managed as they are mainly part-time. Students may also find that balancing volunteer work can also help gain time management skills by fitting this helpful activity into class time and studying.
Students may also benefit from helping others as it shows the initiative to go the extra mile, and to professors and employers, these students will stand out in a positive way. After a few good reasons as to why one should involve themselves in the giving process this holiday season, the next feat is how?
From simple things someone can do on their own to volunteering for an organization, there are hundreds of ways to get involved during all the seasonal splendor. If students are interested in contributing on a large scale, New York City has plenty of organizations to choose from.
For over 30 years the Food Bank of NYC has been the city’s biggest hunger-relief organization, working relentlessly to end hunger within the five boroughs. From distributing food to organizing efforts to spreading the word, the Food Bank is one way to help out this year.
If feeding people is not your niche, Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct organization that helps homeless persons. Starting December 15th, Coalition for the Homeless holds an annual toy drive for homeless children.
Aside from hosting a toy drive locally at school or work, buying a toy and dropping it off at the organization shows how simple volunteering can be. In 2017, Operation Santa reached its 105th anniversary lead by the U.S. Postal Service.
Since children are likely to write a letter to Santa prior to Christmas, as a result they work to provide a written response in order to promote writing and literacy. In select Post Offices the public is welcome to “adopt” Santa letters making it possible for individuals to send responses and gifts in Santa’s place.
Easy ways to help the community never go out of season, such as orchestrating a yard sale offering the proceeds to a local charity. Not only will you recycle unused items to those who may utilize them like new, but the donations can make a large impact when it comes to helping underprivileged families and persons.
Other ideas include, visiting a homeless shelter, coaching a local youth team, tutoring a student, paying for someone’s coffee, participating in a run for a good cause, donating previously read books and returning a lost item. Volunteer work helps make the world feel connected by spreading joy and generosity.
The community can use citizen’s efforts, but remember to start in the most convenient place: home. Be sure to spread the love wherever you go this season.
Below is a list of five local charities that can use volunteers this holiday!
Food Bank NYC, foodbanknyc.org, (212) 566-785, 39 Broadway, New York, NY 10006
Where To Turn Volunteer Programs
Including Snow Shoveling for Seniors, www.where-to-turn.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, (718) 966-653, 150-L Greaves Lane #312, 10308
Project Hospitality, projecthospitality.org, (718) 273-6737, 514 Bay Street, 10304
SIMHS, School Reading Volunteer Program, simhs.org, (718) 442-2225, 669 Castleton Ave, 10301