The holidays represent a time of giving for many people. And in the spirit of giving, you may be wondering about Christmas volunteer opportunities this year.
There are opportunities throughout the year to give back to your community. But perhaps it’s easiest to be reminded of this during the holidays — when we remember that not everyone has the same privileges.
Over half a million people are estimated to be homeless at this very moment. About 11% of adults experiencing homelessness are Veterans. The issues they face every day include securing adequate shelter, food, and mental health services that could be life-saving.
While our active duty service members are not homeless, it doesn’t mean they don’t struggle. Approximately 200,000 are deployed overseas right now: some in dangerous war zones for up to 15 months at a time.
Here are 10 Christmas volunteer opportunities where you can give back to our military community, now and throughout 2020:
Christmas Volunteer Opportunities
1. Soldiers’ Angels
Soldiers’ Angels relies on volunteers to accomplish everything they do, which includes fundraising to support Veterans and sending care packages to deployed troops. When you volunteer for them, you can be an Angel or a Team Angel.
Angels can work out of the Soldiers’ Angels office in San Antonio, in one of the many Veteran Mobile Food Distributions across the country, or even a VA Medical Center. Team Angels, on the other hand, are able to serve the military community virtually; writing letters, sending baked goods, and much more.
Find out how to start your journey with Soldiers’ Angels here.
2. The USO
The United Services Organization was built on the backs of volunteers, and it’s no different now. They provide much-needed care packages, housing assistance, support groups, recreation, and entertainment for our deployed troops.
Volunteers can help out at one of their 160-plus locations around the world, working at their events or interacting personally with service members.
Learn how you can be part of the USO here.
3. Homes for Our Troops
The main function of this non-profit is building homes for wounded Veterans who are in need of them. The homes usually end up around 2,650 square feet and are completely wheelchair accessible. Their tagline is “Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives” and they’ve been living up to that for the past 15 years.
Helping out at HFOT is one of those Christmas volunteer opportunities you’ll never forget. You can attend a build event near you to get hands-on and help build a home for a Veteran: making a lasting impact that will forever change their life. If you’re in need of a new vehicle, you can also consider donating your old one.
Click here to learn more about volunteering at HFOT.
4. Operation Gratitude
Each year, Operation Gratitude sends hundreds of thousands of care packages to those who serve. And there’s several ways you can help them meet their goal this holiday season:
- Host a donation drive to collect items to send to soldiers
- Send the items yourself
- Write heartfelt letters
- Volunteer at local events to screen letters or pack care packages
To learn more about volunteering with Operation Gratitude, click here.
5. Wounded Warrior Project
As the name suggests, WWP is all about helping our wounded warriors. Their site says that for every service member killed, there are seven wounded — meaning there are 50,000 service members who have been wounded since 9/11. WWP works to ensure the physical and mental wellness of wounded Veterans by connecting them to career and VA counseling and developing a network of support.
You can help accomplish WWP’s mission by fundraising, participating in one of their local 5Ks, volunteering in Veteran fundraisers, and more.
Click here to find out how to get involved with Wounded Warrior Project.
6. Hope for the Warriors
Our sixth out of 10 Christmas volunteer opportunities, Hope for the Warriors focuses on three main things: Veteran transition, health and wellness, and sports and recreation. They have various programs to help Veterans exceed within these categories and live fulfilling lives post-military service.
You can get involved with Hope for the Warriors on both a national and remote level. Click here to learn about it, view their event calendar, and sign up for a local event (or volunteering remotely).
7. Volunteers of America
For more broad Christmas volunteer opportunities, you can sign up for Volunteers of America. They work especially hard to accomplish goals of affordable housing, assistance for people with disabilities, behavioral and mental health services, programs for children in need, and more.
As a volunteer for VofA, you can work at one of their 30 local offices delivering meals, providing admin support, recruiting and managing other volunteers, or providing professional services if you have specialized skills to offer.
To learn more about VofA volunteer opportunities, click here.
8. Fisher House
Fisher House provides free lodging to the family and loved ones of a hospitalized Veteran or service member. They have homes at VA and military centers around the world. They also help military families fly out to see their service member in the event of an injury, and offer scholarships to military kids.
Volunteering at a local Fisher House can include: serving meals to residents, doing housekeeping chores, organizing drives, babysitting, and collecting holiday gifts for military families. If this sounds fulfilling to you, click here for more information.
DAV stands for Disabled American Veterans, and is one of the most well-known Veteran non-profits across the nation. They primarily support disabled Veterans by giving them free rides to medical appointments, assisting with benefits claims, connecting them with meaningful employment, and more.
You can volunteer at a local level by working at VA hospitals and clinics to assist Veteran patients. You can also sign up for the Local Veterans Assistance Program and do things for disabled Veterans like grocery shopping, yard work, and other errands.
Check out DAV volunteer opportunities here.
10. Food Bank
If the above organizations don’t offer opportunities near you, you can always volunteer at your local food bank. You’re almost guaranteed to live near one, and one of the populations you might be serving is Veterans who are experiencing homelessness or hardship. Giving back to your community by donating food, organizing food drives and actually serving food to people is often referred to as “soul work” because it ultimately helps you, too. To put it simply, it just feels good.
Find a local food pantry to volunteer at by entering your ZIP code here.