Giving financially always feels good, but participating in something feels even better.
I still remember grocery shopping with my Interact Club mentor for a family in need at Thanksgiving with the proceeds of our 50/50 raffle. Even years later, it still sticks out in my memory as a special moment that I helped to make a difference. I want to do more of that.
If you’re like me you want to do something, but you don’t know where to start.
Start small. Pick one opportunity, start there. Then add more if you want. This will help you gauge how much of you time, energy, and finances you’re able to give during the holiday season.
Volunteer Your Time or Talent
Volunteer for the Polar Express. Dec. 14-15th, 2019 dress like an elf and help create a magical experience for the little passengers and their families on their way to the North Pole.
David’s House is an amazing place to provide a place to stay for families whose children are in the hospital. You can volunteer by being a hospitality assistant or cooking meals.
Talk to Nick Koloski of Claremont, local philanthropist and firefighter and businessman. He frequently posts opportunities for ways to help the community in the Claremont and Upper Valley.
The Haven in White River has many opportunities to help like supporting students in the after school program, providing childcare, teaching educational/life skills, stocking the food shelf, and more.
Lebanon Christmas Day Dinner is a meal for everyone to share in the holiday cheer, regardless of need and is free. It is hosted by the Listen Center. There are plenty of ways to volunteer: cook a turkey, which they provide the materials and turkey; bake cookies, any flavor is fine; give someone a ride to the meal; or help at the meal. I like to make cookies for this even and loved feeling like I could give back even in a small way.
Help at the Local Senior Center in Lebanon or your local town for Meals on Wheels and other volunteer opportunities.
Make a gingerbread house and donate it to a local organization. This would be fun to do for next year’s Gingerbread Festival.
Donate Gifts and More
Often deadlines for gift giving are the beginning of Dec. So if you’re interested in one of these opportunities, around Thanksgiving is a good time to start reaching out to offer help..
By participating in Hartford Norwich Holiday Basket Helpers you can sponsor a child, teen, or senior for clothing. The gift drop off deadline is the first week in Dec. at St. Paul’s Church.
St. Mary’s in Claremont also has a similar giving program called an Advent Tree of Life where you purchase clothing for an individual by collecting an envelope from the tree; you can sponsor a man, woman, teen, or child (they go fast). I’m sure there are many other churches that do events or programs like this, so contact your local church to see what you can do.
David’s House always needs household and food items for the guests at David’s House whose loved ones are ill at Dartmouth.
Listen provides Holiday Baskets during the holidays for families in need. Families, businesses, and groups can sponsor a family for the holiday. The baskets include items of warm clothing for children and seniors and a grocery gift card. If the deadline for this year has passed, don’t fret! You can also donate to the food pantry, donate personal care items, or other household goods. You can also serve at one of their community meals. See how here.
Toys for Tots is a toy drive by the Marine Corps for children across the country. Donate new unwrapped toys. Local businesses and organizations have signs with the red train logo if they are a drop off center. Lebanon was the Regional Winner in 2015 for collecting toys!
You can donate to the Haven food items, personal hygiene, or baby products.
Bucket List for Next Year
Did you miss the deadline or have other commitments? No worries. Make it a goal to try one of these next year.
If you want to volunteer more throughout the year the Valley News has a wonderful resource of ways to help in the area. Knowing about this
would’ve saved me a lot of futile internet searching. I’m so glad we have this resource!
There’s also a facebook group called Volunteer Upper Valley I just learned about from a forum, thank you!
I hope you find ways to make the holidays shine for others that makes you feel great too!