The fall and winter holidays are an important time of year to volunteer at your local food bank, food pantry, or soup kitchen. For people of all cultures and faiths, this time of year can represent a seasonal opportunity to invest their time and efforts into helping their communities. A spirit of gratitude and service is wrapped into several holiday traditions, and many employers and faith communities further encourage this do-good behavior through structured activities centered around volunteerism.
Regardless of what holidays you celebrate this season, you’ll find a wealth of volunteer opportunities at Food Bank of the Rockies or your local food bank. The challenge of hunger doesn’t take a break for the holidays, and we’d be grateful to have your help. As an extra bonus, many of our volunteers have forged friendships, found their life partner, and developed a close community, making volunteering with Food Bank of the Rockies that much more special. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your holiday volunteering opportunities this year.
Reach out as early as possible
Remember how we said that volunteering is a popular part of many holiday traditions? Well, the statistics back it up! Service projects saw a 42% increase in holiday season volunteers in 2016 compared to the rest of the year, according to nonprofit volunteer coordinators Connect, via Huffington Post.
In a conversation with University of Texas economics professor and volunteerism expert Dr. Allison Russell, UT Dallas Magazine noted that a 50% increase in volunteers during November and December was typical, citing motivations stemming from values and beliefs, as well as increased family togetherness and time off of work as potential reasons for the uptick in volunteers.
All of that increased interest means that volunteer opportunities at your local food bank or food pantry may fill up quickly during the holiday season. Your best bet is to reach out to the organization that you’d like to partner with as far ahead of the holidays as possible to ensure that they have shifts available for you on your chosen day(s).
If you’re interested in securing your holiday volunteering opportunity with Food Bank of the Rockies now, you can do so via this link. Once you’ve completed your volunteer profile, you can view our calendar of open shifts to pick the holiday volunteer opportunity that’s right for you and your family.
If you’re planning a volunteer opportunity for a large group, it’s even more important that you get an early start, as other organizations in your area may have annual service projects that can cause calendars to fill-up quickly. Groups interested in volunteering with Food Bank of the Rockies can sign-up via this link.
Keep an open mind
Here’s the good news: Because of the increased interest in service projects during the holidays, many organizations like Food Bank of the Rockies will create additional volunteer opportunities in November and December, so it helps if you’re willing to be flexible!
While we don’t recommend that anyone volunteer for work that’s outside of their physical capabilities, being open to working wherever your help is most needed is a quality that is greatly appreciated by organizations like Food Bank of the Rockies, especially around the holidays.
Some examples of holiday volunteer opportunities at a hunger-relief organization like Food Bank of the Rockies include:
- Sorting and packing food
- Loading packed boxes of food onto pallets and into Hunger Relief Partners’ delivery vehicles
- Assisting with the distribution of food items to community members at mobile pantries, a distribution center, or other locations
- Delivering meals, food boxes, and other aid items directly to community members in need
- Helping prepare and package meals in the kitchen
Consider hosting a fundraiser or virtual food drive
Family and community togetherness is a valued aspect of the holiday season, and that means that this is the perfect time of year to consider hosting a fundraiser or adding a new sense of purpose to an existing holiday event.
While hunger-relief organizations like Food Bank of the Rockies are always happy to accept food donations of any amount from traditional holiday food drives, monetary donations actually make a greater impact for those who need it. Think about it this way: While a couple of bags of groceries can nourish a family for one or two meals, organizations like Food Bank of the Rockies can turn just $20 into 60 whole meals!
Virtual food drives, therefore, are a great alternative to traditional food drives this holiday season — especially when in-person volunteer opportunities are already filled. Virtual food drives can take on many forms: You could individually raise funds as a gift-alternative for family members, host a holiday party with a digital “suggested donation,” or even ask friends to pledge donations for your favorite cold-weather sport. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, you can do so with the confidence that the donations you’re raising are being utilized to their maximum effect. Start your virtual food drive with Food Bank of the Rockies today!
Make a plan to volunteer all year
Moved by a last-minute infusion of holiday spirit this season? Make a plan with your loved ones to volunteer at another point in the year when you convene during the holidays. Hunger-relief organizations like Food Bank of the Rockies need your help during all four seasons, and the annual family gathering or office holiday party is a great opportunity to get folks motivated for the future.
The warmer months are an especially great time to volunteer, as children who rely on school food assistance programs often need additional resources, and volunteer shifts go unfilled due to summer vacation plans. You can contact your local hunger-relief organization to find out when they typically need the most volunteers, and rally your nearest and dearest to come help.
Regardless of how you choose to volunteer this holiday season, we’re grateful for your help. Thank you for allowing Food Bank of the Rockies to bring joy and nourishment to our neighbors during this special time of year.