Involved with a Cause

By Gabrielle L. Wheeler         

As the leaves on the trees fall and the landscape begins to promise of the upcoming winter, my mind turns towards the holidays. I always have the desire to do some sort of holiday volunteering but sometimes don’t know how. If your thoughts parallel mine, here are some ideas on how you can get involved, either for the season or throughout the year.

Support the elderly: Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers healthy meals to the doors of elderly folks that can’t get out any more. If that doesn’t sound like your forte, driving folks to medical appointments or just being a ‘phone-a-friend’ buddy might be other options. Call your local office for the aging to inquire.

Support the children: Children often feel differences in family income most during the holiday season. As a response many counties have developed programs to support families in need by supplying gifts for children. Contacting your local Salvation Army, food pantry, or domestic violence shelter might get you connected to the organizers of these programs. Lately, I have also been seeing that some school classrooms are doing sponsorship programs so that every child in the classroom receives a book through the Scholastic Book Clubs. Check with your local elementary school to inquire if there are any programs of this kind.

Join the Board: Many organizations are run by a Board of Trustees. A few years back I joined the Board of my local library and loved it! Boards make important decision on how to manage money, sometimes make hiring decisions, and help keep the direction of the organization’s goals.

Take a class or go for a visit: Many non-profit organizations rely on grants to operate. To receive grants, they must apply for them using statistical data of how many people they intend to reach with their services – and how many people have already been impacted. If you wish to support your local non-profit, use their services. Arts councils offer classes like painting, pottery, and cooking; libraries offer a myriad of activities such as movie nights and language classes; nature centers offer educational, hands-on programs. Visiting a museum as a counted visitor helps that museum receive funding to stay open and offer their specialty programs.

The wonderful thing about volunteer work is that you get to decide how much or how little you do. You also get to choose an organization whose work resonates with your soul. Volunteering can be incredibly satisfying and a great way to make a positive impact in the communities we live in at the holidays and all year long.

Gabrielle Wheeler is a freelance writer from the heart of the Finger Lakes Region. On her parenting blog,, she writes about tending to the whole child and parent. She also works in a local health center as an interpreter/patient navigator.

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