Whatever your forte is, there is likely an organization who can benefit from your skills and passion.  Here are just a few examples of some opportunities to give back to the community during the merriest of seasons.

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 their annual Christmas dinner. Check out theraft.ca for more information.

COMMUNITY CARE
This organization has many different programs including food and shelter to emergency services.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. By donating food or organizing your own food drive
2. Adopt an Angel: toys and stocking stuffers are collected for children, from babies to 12 years of age.
3. Adopt a teen or senior angel: backpacks or bags on wheels are filled with necessities.
4. Keep someone warm: donate hats, gloves, coats, boots or slippers, and help keep somebody warm.
5. Adopt a family: your family can adopt a family in need, and help give them a wonderful Christmas.
For information on available programs 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. 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.
VOLUNTEER AT A NURSING HOME
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.

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 assisting with patient and family care, auxiliary membership, fundraising and retail, and information and customer service. Visit niagarahealth.on.ca for more info.

HELPING OUR FURRY FRIENDS
If animals are your thing, 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: St. Catharines Pets Alive (stcatharinespetsalive.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)

LAST CHANCE HORSE AND PONY RESCUE
This charity rescues and rehabilitates abused horses and ponies, and then trains them as therapy animals for children and adults with disabilities.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Volunteers are always needed to help take care of the horses (feeding, mucking out stalls, filling water, maintenance…tasks will vary depending on how much experience you have with horses.) Visit lchpr.org for more information.

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 informationniagara.com. You can search by organization name, or area of interest.