December is a month for giving back and teaching our kids the importance of volunteering, but like everything else in 2020, this year is different. We may not be able to volunteer at a homeless shelter or visit a nursing home to spread some holiday cheer, but there are many ways you and your girl can stay safe while helping your community!
Host a supply drive – While it is common (and helpful) to host a food or toy drive near the holidays, think of other causes that may not get as much attention this time of year. You could put together care packages for the homeless, gather supplies for a local animal shelter, see what items foster care organizations need other than toys, or even reach out to your school and see what supplies teachers need. Once you and your girl know what items you want to donate, work with her to create a plan for gathering them. Social media is a great tool for getting the word out – using Facebook or Neighborhood apps to reach your family, friends, and neighbors will help you double your efforts. Remember to:
- Stay safe when collecting from family, friends, and neighbors – for example, putting a drop off box in front of your house will help you stay socially distanced.
- Reach out to the organization you want to support BEFORE gathering items. They can let you know what they need and how-to drop-off your donations.
- Get creative and promote your supply drive locally.
Adopt a grandfriend – Many elderly people look forward to visits from family during the holidays, but in most cases that won’t be possible this year. Instead of visiting in person, you can still spread joy by reaching out to a local nursing home, senior center, or even hospice care facility to find a pen pal to write to, send care packages, or even call regularly. Alternatively, you can send letters and holiday cards to the staff at hospitals to thank them for their hard work and dedication to our communities. This is a super fun activity that you and your girl can do at home, and feel free to get creative and personal when sending your letters. This is a hard time for everyone, and a little human connection goes a long way. Remember to:
- Call the organization ahead of time to find out if they have a pen pal program in place.
- Be creative and heartfelt in your message, and ask questions!
- Include a return address to keep the conversation going.
Hold a neighborhood cleanup – Find a local park, beach, or neighborhood that could use a little TLC and make it happen. Cleanup your community with your family or gather a group together and make an afternoon of it (be sure to socially distance and wear face masks when out in public). You can make this project as big or as small as you want – encourage participants to dress up in matching outfits, make it fun by challenging people to pick up a certain amount of trash, or even host multiple cleanups in your area. If picking up trash isn’t your thing, reach out to a local nature center and see if they need help getting rid of invasive species, or see if a neighbor needs help with their yard work. Remember to:
- Stay safe by socially distancing, wearing a mask, and using gloves.
- Recycle items that are accepted by your local recycling facility.
- Whether it’s just you and your girl, or a group that you’ve gathered, have fun!
BONUS Support your favorite nonprofit by sharing their posts on social media. This idea might not sound exciting, but it helps so much in terms of getting people engaged in that organization’s message. Whether you support a local shelter, science center, park, or children’s organization – sharing their social media posts helps tremendously. Not only does it show that you engage with their mission, but it helps spread the word locally, which for a small nonprofit, means a lot!
Some other great resources to help you give back this season:
- Learn about local and virtual volunteer opportunities at volunteermatch.org
- Explore more socially-distanced service project ideas from signupgenius.com
- Find more at home volunteer opportunities from the collegeboard.org