The Doing Good blog follows area charities and social service agencies.
About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Holiday helping: Think outside the box to help others on Christmas Day
HOLIDAY HELPING: See more opportunities to help out for the holidays.
Many families like to capture the spirit of Christmas and participate in a service project. Each year, I get several calls from people who want to know how they can help on Christmas Day. When I call around to local charities, they usually tell me the same thing, “Please ask them to volunteer in June, when we desperately need help.” At one homeless agency, volunteers sign up nearly a year in advance to make the Christmas meal. And while everyone is grateful for the generosity, there are few openings for volunteers on Christmas Day.
But you can still help others. Here are a few ways:
1. Bring baked goodies to emergency workers–those working in the emergency rooms, police stations and fire and rescue stations. They’re missing Christmas with their families in case you get hurt and need their help. Some home-baked treats would cheer them up. And if your family happens to be musically inclined, why not prepare a carol or two?
2. Visit the lonely–at nursing homes, there are residents who don’t have any visitors on Christmas Day. Call ahead and make arrangements to visit with some of them and bring some Christmas cheer. Or, find some friends or family members to go with you and sing Christmas carols.
3. Clean out your closets–Before your children put away their new toys, have them go through their old ones and find some to give away. You can set these aside and give them to charities after Christmas. Some ideas on where to give? Just a Hand gives toys to foster parents and families in need: 540/424-7812, firstname.lastname@example.org. Spotsylvania Emergency Concerns Association sells toys at its thrift shop (which raises money to help Spotsylvania families in need) but they also often give a toy to a child who comes in with parents looking for help paying the bills or feeding the family: SECA’s hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am – 2pm. SECA is also open the first and third Saturday of the month. SECA is located at 8812 Courthouse Road, their phone number is (540) 582-2465. And Goodwill and the Salvation Army sell toys at their thrift stores, too. Drop off donations for the Salvation Army at the thrift store, 2010 Lafayette Blvd in Fredericksburg or for Goodwill at one of many drop-off locations throughout the area.
4. On the same note, if your child got a new bike for Christmas, you can put the old one to use. Employment Resources Incorporated (ERI) and the Glady H. Oberle School’s Wilson Center for Vocation Studies are in need of donated used bicycles for their Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Program, which gives vocational skills to students. Call 540/372-6710.
5. Visit your neighbors–on Christmas Eve, my mom always handed my brother and me loaves of banana bread and had us deliver them to the neighbors. This tradition served two purposes–keeping us busy on Christmas Eve when we were probably bouncing off the walls in anticipations and helping us keep in touch with our neighbors.
6. Make plans to help throughout the year–Christmas is a great day to do this. The family is together and (usually) in a pretty good mood. Sit down as a family and talk about ways that you can help others throughout the year, whether it’s scheduling a once-a-month trip to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank to pack boxes, mowing the lawn for families dealing with pediatric cancer, updating the website and social media of an organization that helps children who are victims of sexual abuse, or babysitting for parents who have survived domestic abuse. For ideas, start here with the Rappahannock United Way’s list of volunteer opportunities.
Does your family have a good way of helping on Christmas? If so, please share: email@example.com or in the comments below.