Shortly after we have all trampled, kicked and karate-chopped people to get to that 40-percent-off plasma TV, one of the biggest service months of the year begins.
December is the time of year for giving, or at least that’s what all our church leaders, favorite cartoon characters and parents have said to us growing up.
But is one month enough?
Some volunteers who do service work year-round might be apprehensive, if not judgmental, of those that do all their year’s service work in the last month of the year. Those who volunteer religiously may feel invaded by the holiday volunteer tourists flooding their soup kitchens, donation boxes and food pantries. They may even scoff and assume that these tourists are only volunteering because Santa, God or karma is watching.
OK, so maybe in my experience with nonprofit organizations, I’ve only met volunteers who were absolute sugar. I know they really love the extra help during the holidays and always welcome the extra supplies. They probably look forward to December based on the fact that so many people want to give back and feel guilty for all the Black Friday shopping they did (or perhaps they are just good people). But why do we volunteer so much in just this one month?
When it comes down to it, December really is the best time of the year to do service work, because there is so much selection. December is like the buffet of service opportunities. It is the Sears catalog of chances to do good deeds for others. It is the tsunami wave of service projects you surf on, throwing hang-10 signs. There are food, clothing and toy drives in almost every grocery store. There are Sub for Santa projects, auctions and fundraisers.
Among all of these, my favorite is the Angel Tree. The Angel Tree is a tree without ornaments, but full of cards describing needy children and their Wish Gifts (the present they wish for the most). I read each card attentively, visualizing what each child looks and acts like: A 6-year-old who wants Tonka trucks. A 13-year-old who wants headphones. I try to find the one I find I could relate to the most — the child who I feel would benefit from my taste in gift-giving the most.
This year, my best friend and I chose an 11-year-old girl who wants a skateboard. We could not be more qualified to find this young girl a rad skateboard and maybe some cool kicks. I think this year, I will also be participating in some food and clothing drives as well.
With all the different ways to give back this season, there is a charity opportunity for everyone. That is what makes holiday volunteering so great. You can pick the service that best suits you and what you’re good at or comfortable with. I think being helpful is something everyone can get behind.
Whether you are scheduling time at your local homeless shelter to serve dinner, making donations or even just taking the time to shovel your neighbors’ driveway, you can’t deny that this December has got everyone in the giving mood. After giving back to the holiday season where so many of us have all we need (and more), maybe this New Year, we’ll make a resolution to join the volunteers who give back all year round.