During the holidays, many students have a number of days off and no homework in sight, so they feel inclined to give back to their community and world with little service projects. By volunteering your time to an organization or project, you won’t just feel great about yourself — you may find an issue that you’re passionate about. Start with these 8 wonderful ways to volunteer during your winter break.
1. Host an International Student or Family
The holidays are particularly hard on those far from family and friends. For international students, that may mean spending the holidays trapped in an empty residence hall building or an apartment. Many colleges have programs that link local families and students with a college student who wants a little companionship. Bring them home for the holidays or New Year’s, share a meal, or take them out shopping.
2. Hold a Food or Clothing Drive
Gather your friends and family and inspire them to bring in non-perishable food items or new (or lightly used) winter clothing. So many appreciate a great meal or a new hat, so you will be spearheading a campaign to make the lives of others better.
3. Make a Friend at a Nursing Home
During the holidays, many living in a nursing home have very few friends or family to come see them. Make it a point to stop by and play a game, sing a song, or just stop in to say hello. Nursing homes often love visitors and can even set you up with pen pals or companions for a longer period of time.
4. Help Clean the Kennels
Animal shelters often struggle to keep up with intake of animals. And unfortunately, after Christmas, there is an influx of dogs and cats that are surrendered or lost. Give an hour or two to homeless animals by offering to take them on walks, play with them in supervised groups, or even clean their living spaces. It’s a messy job, but it means so much!
5. Tutor a Student
For middle and high school students, the long break between their semesters can mean falling back on their studies. Offer to run catch-up sessions at the library for free. This is especially beneficial if you are studying to become a teacher or are taking a math course and need a refresher.
6. Work in a Kitchen Line
After Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteers for soup kitchens go down dramatically. Keep up the spirit by volunteering on non-peak days (such as weekdays). You may wash dishes, serve food, or help with cleanup.
7. Pack Care Packages for Overseas Soldiers
Many organizations have drives for items for soldiers overseas, and after the holidays, volunteers get together to put the packages together and ship them out. If your community doesn’t have a program, set one up by visiting Military.com for a list of what to and not to ship and how to get it to those in need.
8. Knock on Doors for Candidates
Studying political science? This is your time to shine! With elections just around the corner, you can make a difference by signing up to volunteer for a local, state, or national candidate. Most volunteers start by doing cold calls or knocking on doors, but you may find yourself rising up quickly if you are a passionate, self-starter.