With the holidays comes the spirit of giving. All around the world people will volunteer their time to help those in need from cooking at their local soup kitchen, packing boxes for Toys for Tots, working with local churches or organizations to sponsor a child, or giving clothing to local schools for children who do not have coats in the winter. Overall tis the season to give, and with giving comes to satisfaction of helping those in need, but what happens after the new year? The holidays are a wonderful time to volunteer, but what happens after everyone goes home and returns to the normal routine of life? We have a new decade upon us and New Year’s Resolutions to work towards, why not make this year dedicated to helping others?
Volunteering, even in its smallest increments, can make a huge difference to a student who has nothing, or to a school district who struggles with running the basketball games. There are many ways that you can volunteer your time this winter season. After you go home and settle back into the regular flow of life consider looking at your local school district. Where can you make a difference? Each school district has its own unique needs and room for volunteer work. For someone who lives in a warmer state, say Texas, maybe you don’t have a winter coat drop off, but perhaps there is a bottled water drop off?
Here are some volunteering options to consider during this time of year.
- Sponsor a family Help put food on the table, or help to feed a needy family by getting matched on https://www.family-to-family.org/.
- Put together hygiene kits For some families January can be a difficult time. Right after the holiday season some families struggle with finances and can’t afford even the most basic necessities. Have a basket in each classroom with mini soaps, shampoos, hand sanitizer, tissues, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. At the end of the week hand them out to students to take home to their families.
- Donate school supplies – School supplies can have a lasting impact on someone who may be struggling during the winter months. They are always needed throughout the school year, and stocking up a classroom with school supplies may help that one student who could not afford to get a new notepad for the spring semester.
- Remove outside hazards During the winter some hazards may become known which may not be obvious in the fall or spring. Have the gutters around the school cleaned and maintained to avoid icicles building up. Trim trees near entrances and where students or staff may stand. If you live in an area where there is heavy snowfall the weight will lower the branches into possible foot traffic.
- Make it a family affair Create new traditions and bring the family to volunteer. Spend time together helping those less fortunate and teach values to the younger generations about giving.
At the end of the day, it is important to give your volunteers recognition for donating their time to a cause. Whether it is collecting cans for a food drive, or donating coats to a local school, everyone deserves to be recognized. It could be as small as sending a thank you card, or as big as a volunteer appreciation party.
No matter what the recognition, it is important to show your volunteers that you are grateful for their time and efforts into helping the community; furthermore, it is important to show volunteers how their time impacts the community. If you volunteer to cook at a local soup kitchen then you can see the immediate impact that you have created, but what about something like spending time with someone?
Maybe you go to the local elementary school and read to the children twice a week, and after a semester of reading, you hear from the principal that the school’s reading score has gone up 30%. It’s instances like this that you want to ensure that those who helped make this possible are thanked for their time.
Keeping volunteer retention in the front of your mind is the first step, the second is to track your volunteer’s hours, and a simple way to do that is with the App-Garden’s Volunteer Tracker. This cloud-based software it can be accessed by the volunteers and the head of volunteering anywhere there is an internet connection. Volunteers can also add their interests and what they want to be informed about when it comes to events on their profiles.
Learn how Volunteer Tracker can benefit from retaining your volunteers by requesting a demo or reach out to us for more information.