Christmas is the perfect time of year to step out of yourself and go in search of that perfect volunteer opportunity you’ve been looking for. Whatever your forte is or wherever your interest lies, there is likely an opportunity for you to help out in that capacity. Here are just a few examples of some opportunities to give back to the community during the merriest of seasons (and hopefully beyond).

 

Community Care

This organization has many different programs including food and shelter to emergency services.

How you can help:

  • donating food or organizing your own food drive
  • Adopt an Angel: toys and stocking stuffers are collected for children, from babies to 12 years of age.
  • Adopt a teen or senior angel: backpacks or bags on wheels are filled with necessities.
  • Keep someone warm: donate hats, gloves, coats, boots or slippers, and help keep somebody warm.
  • Adopt a family: your family can adopt a family in need, and help give them a wonderful Christmas.
  • Fill A Holiday Barrel. This is a great initiative for companies, organizations, schools or apartment buildings. Each week you can collect a different type of donation (toys, winter wear, hygiene products, food)

For information on all the different programs available at Community Care, visit, communitycarestca.ca

Project SHARE

This organization provides emergency food and support services to residents of Niagara Falls.

How you can help:

  • You can “adopt” a family at Christmas time and help them to have a happy Christmas.
  • You can also make donations of in-kind items, some of their most needed items are: gifts for teenage girls, gifts for teenage boys, gift cards, gifts for toddlers, pajamas, winter accessories and toiletries.

More information is available at projectshare.ca

Meals on Wheels

This non for profit delivers nutritious meals to those in need and helps to foster independence. Recipients of meals are usually elderly, have a chronic sickness, a physical disability, etc.

How you can help:

  • Volunteer to be a meal delivery driver (maybe even on Christmas eve or day).
  • Help out in various other capacities as well, such as with fundraising, PR or office work.

Niagara Health System

The NHS is made up of six sites throughout Niagara (in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, St. Catharines and Welland).

How you can help:

  • There are numerous volunteer positions available at these hospitals, and they involve:
  • Assisting with patient and family care
  • Auxiliary membership
  • Fundraising and retail
  • Information and customer service

Visit niagarahealth.on.ca for more info.

RAFT

A place for at-risk youths in the Niagara Region

How you can help:

Volunteers are always needed to assist with special events and recreational programs such as:

  • The annual Christmas dinner.
  • Donations of items such as hygiene products, healthy snacks, prepared meals, canned goods, office supplies, winter accessories such as hats and mitts and socks.
  • Items can be dropped off at any time during business hours.

Volunteering at Nursing Homes

How you can help:

There are many nursing homes throughout the Niagara Region, and many have numerous senior citizens who never get any visitors. Spread some holiday cheer by going and chatting with the residents, or maybe volunteer to organize a social event…who knows what kind of new friends you will make!

For a full listing of nursing homes in the Niagara Region, visit niagararegion.ca. Volunteer opportunities are outlined on the website.

Kristen French

Child Advocacy Centre Niagara

How you can help:

The main mission of this charity is to provide service to children and families in the Niagara Region who have been impacted by child abuse. This charity operates without any government funding and relies on fundraising efforts to keep operating. They are always happy to receive:

  • One time donations
  • Monthly pledges or an annual gift
  • In memoriam donations
  • In-kind donations such as teen/tween friendly DVDs, youth and family-friendly magazine subscriptions, stuffed animals, non-perishable snack items, new toys and books and more. 

More info at kristenfrenchcacn.org

Helping our Furry Friends

How you can help:

If you love animals, there are many animal charities that can use donations around the holidays. Donations of various items such as:

  • food
  • cat litter
  • bedding,
  • bowls
  • towels and more

Are always appreciated by the non-profit animal groups in our area. They are also always looking for assistance with fostering animals, which involves taking care of an animal until a forever home can be found. Some local groups to look into helping are: Pets Alive Niagara(petsaliveniagara.ca), Animal Assistance Society of Niagara, Port Colborne Feline Initiative (pcferalcats.org), Community Animal Allies of Niagara (caancatmobile.org), and Welland Humane Society (wellandspca.com)

There are countless ways to give back to the community, not just during the holidays, but on a year round basis.

A great site to visit to see what organizations are looking for volunteers and the various positions available is niagara.cioc.ca/volunteer. You can search by organization name, or area of interest.
For more articles about Niagara Establishments, visit our Best Of Niagara section.