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Why You Need to Get a Head Start on Your Holiday Volunteering

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 13, 2017
Updated: November 13, 2017
 Holiday volunteering opportunities

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 


Halloween is over. The costumes are stored away and the candy is down to the last packet of Rockets and straggling Tootsie rolls. Stores have started unpacking their holiday decorations, getting ready to bombard the masses with tinsel, spinning dreidels and wreaths of inordinate sizes. Every year I think to myself, “Are they really decorating now?” but I am starting to realize they’ve gotten it right.

If you’re like me, you enjoy getting your shopping done early to avoid the long lines, repetitive music and over-abundance of good cheer. The same should go for your holiday volunteering activities.

Over the years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people who call us on Christmas Eve, hoping to find a place to volunteer. Although well intentioned, many believe it’s possible to just show up at a soup kitchen or shelter to donate their time. Sadly, times have changed and it’s not the reality anymore. There are a limited number of volunteer roles available over the holidays and most get snapped up even before December has even started.

It’s not that organizations don’t want or need the help, it’s that they could use it year-round, not just during the holiday season. Most charities are looking for passionate, reliable, dedicated volunteers who are willing to give their time throughout the year to support their cause. These are often the volunteers who are anointed with the coveted holiday shifts. They know the staff, have been properly trained and are comfortable with the in’s and out’s of the organization.

"Often, the generosity that many of our program participants receive around the holidays is so great that it can be very difficult for them in the new year when the holiday meals, special donations and influx of volunteers taper off. The new year can be a cold and difficult time of year particularly for those who are homeless or precariously housed. Many holiday volunteers don’t realize this, and if they did, some might change the way/time of year they volunteer as a result."

- Kaleigh Wisman, Community Relations Coordinator
at West Neighbourhood House


So, I suggest taking all the enthusiasm to give back that you get as December approaches and consider volunteering not just for a day but for a few months or longer. If that won’t do, and you are set on volunteering over the holiday season, then set yourself up for success by contacting organizations NOW. Don’t wait until the last minute! Search using our 'Holiday Volunteering' category to see what opportunities are currently available.  If you’re too late and can’t find anything, think local. Research charities in your area then call or email them directly to see if they will need help. Or, check out other informal ways you can give back this season. 

When you properly plan both you and the organization you support will have a positive experience, making everyone’s holiday season an extraordinary one.  


If you are media looking to speak on volunteering during the holidays please get in touch with Cara Eaton, Marketing and Communications Manager at Volunteer Toronto.

Tags:  Christmas volunteering  holiday volunteer opportunities  Holiday Volunteering  holiday volunteers  How do I volunteer at Christmas  How to volunteer during Christmas  Volunteer for the holiday  volunteer holidays 

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