Dec 21, 2011

Celebrate the Holidays through Community Service

The holidays are the perfect time for high school students to start actively volunteering in their communities. Organizations are in desperate need of hands-on help as well as donations to help make the season more festive for those in need.

More entrepreneurial high school students might consider one of the following 10 ideas for giving back during the holidays.

  • Gather friends and family to make holiday cards to distribute to local nursing homes, hospitals, and to send to troops overseas. Visit for more ideas!
  • Host a food drive or volunteer at a local food pantry or food bank. Check out Youth Service America's food drive lesson plan for more information.
  • Organize a toy collection drive. Find a “Giving Tree” (or other community gift exchange for kids) and add contributions you’ve collected The Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots is active in many communities.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a family crisis center. Bring your friends and family to help cook and/or serve a meal to those in need. Or collect and donate winter clothes and gear that you no longer wear.
  • Sign up with Meals on Wheels to deliver food to senior citizens. If you can't drive, find someone who can and do it together! Spread a little holiday cheer and “visit” with the folks you serve.
  • Organize a coat drive and donate the items to One Warm Coat.
  • Host a present-wrapping table at your local mall or help wrap presents for an organization serving others. The wrapping service sponsored at the Fair Oaks Mall by DECA students from Fairfax County Public Schools is a great example.
  • Sponsor a gift card drive and collect cards from local grocery and department stores to donate to organizations serving the needy.
  • Host a story hour at a local library and apply for a Youth Leaders for Literacy grant to do another reading and service project in the spring.
  • Organize a blood drive by getting in touch with a local clinic or Red Cross program in your area. To locate a blood drive or set one up, you can to Community Blood Center: High School Blood Drives or Blood Bank Locator Map.
  • Sign-up for a charity walk or run. There are walks for breast cancer, diabetes, leukemia and hundreds more. Winter is a great time to plan ahead by seeking out a charity, setting a goal, and beginning training. Don’t forget to get your family, friends, and community involved. Donations to your cause make great holiday gifts!

If you’ve never volunteered before and don’t know where to begin, here are a few websites to help get you started:

The point is to use time over the holidays to begin the process of community involvement and to give a little more than you receive.

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