January 13, 2015

Giving back: Not just for holiday cheer

How often do we hear that the holiday season is the time to give back?

Outside the festive time of year, I have made excuses to avoid giving my time and money back to the community. This changed when a close friend asked me to volunteer with her at a local community event in Santa Barbara.

There, I worked a gaming booth and interacted with all the community members around the area. Although I was only there for two hours, the time I spent there made me feel far more excited than I have felt for the past couple years. Thus, I write this blog to give tips to any college student interested in volunteering during the holidays (and beyond):

Tips on how to give back throughout the year:

1. Talk to your local community center

All cities have a local community center where they hold holiday events, community dinners and more for those in need. Find out if any events need volunteers by reaching out to your municipal offices and community outreach departments. Keep in mind, most volunteering events start sign ups at least a 2-3 weeks before the event. Sign up early!

2. Visit VolunteerMatch.com

The fastest way to find out about local and neighboring volunteering opportunities around your area! Follow the instruction on the website to find volunteering opportunities you might be interested in doing. Moreover, check other volunteering website to find more opportunities. The more, the merrier!

3. Visit your local homeless shelters and senior centers

Something that you can easily do is to ask a local shelter if you can visit and participate in their yearly activities. Community members and programs are always promoting these initiatives; make a quick visit and learn how you can help.

4. Pay it forward

Write a card to a current or past influential teacher or make cookies and treats for your neighbors. Any of these activities do not have to take that much effort, but can easily brighten someone’s day. 

This year, make it a goal to participate in at least one volunteering activity outside the holiday season. Giving back is never out of style.