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Why, hello spring! I mean… winter. Even though the weather may not agree, winter is almost here and with a new season it’s time for a new volunteer guide. So put on your mittens, dig up some warm and donation-worthy clothing, and let’s get charitable! ‘Tis the season, after all!

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

The Holiday Project: This organization brings holiday gifts and good cheer to people in nursing homes, hospitals, and other residences where they might not otherwise have a holiday celebration. It’s a lovely idea and there are plenty of places on their list in the DMV.
Dreams for Kids Holiday Celebration: This organization that provides opportunities to children with physical and mental disabilities is hosting its annual Holiday Celebration on December 19th. There are a number of different activities at the midday celebration that individuals can volunteer for and I’m sure you’ll be full of holiday cheer by the end!
Alexandria Holiday Market: Pour wine for a good cause! This year’s holiday market in Alexandria should be lots of fun and raises money and gathers food for Hunger Free Alexandria. They are also collecting toys for the local holiday sharing toy drive.
Salvation Army: No holiday volunteer list is complete without the Salvation Army. If ringing bells isn’t your thing, you can also help out with Project Angel Tree — helping sort donations of clothes and gifts for children in need. Their biggest need for volunteers is currently on December 16th.
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue: Want to spread some love to our furry friends this holiday season? Over the holidays, Lucky Dog is in need of additional foster parents for their pups, so if you’d like to have a dog around for the holidays (or longer!), hop on over to their website and fill out their foster parent form.
Capital Area Food Bank: No time to volunteer but still want to give back? There are many good food drives happening this time of year. CAFB makes it easy to donate — look for collection bins or pre-made packages and other options to donate at your local Safeway, Harris Teeter, or Whole Foods.
Santa Claus Anonymous: Looking for opportunities in Baltimore? This organization raises money to provide gifts to children in need this Christmas. You can donate funds, dedicate a gift, or host a fundraising event.
Church of Saint Clement Christmas Trees: Saint Clement raises money through sales of Christmas trees during the holiday season. Volunteers are needed throughout the whole process, from unloading trees to helping customers find the right tree and bundle it up to take home.
Jubilee Support Alliance: The JSA is looking for volunteers to help out as a part of their Holiday Program, which provides Jubilee Housing residents and their children with holiday gifts and dinners.
Washington Bach Consort: The group is hosting “Christmas with the Consort” on December 20th and is seeking volunteer ushers and other support. Free Bach to get you in the holiday spirit, anyone?
December 25th Day of Service: The DC Jewish Community Center hosts a day of service on the 25th. There are all sorts of volunteer activities, many family-friendly, that last from 2-4 hours in duration and range from preparing food for the homeless, visiting seniors, painting, or throwing a Christmas party.
Gift Wrapping, Giving Service: the Arms Outstretched Ministry is looking for volunteers to help with gift wrapping at the Pentagon City Mall from December 18th – 24th. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to wounded warriors, troops serving overseas and their families.
National Christmas Tree: If you want to spend some time on the White House lawn, the National Park Service is looking for volunteers to water the National Christmas Tree and to provide good cheer along the Pathway of Peace this holiday season.

Opportunities All Winter Long

It’s easy to focus on the importance of volunteering during the season of giving, but don’t forget that there are ways to help out year round, and plenty of organizations to help you do so!
TreeStewards of Arlington/Alexandria: Join the TreeStewards and you can help improve the health of urban trees through educational programs, tree planting, and tree maintenance. Volunteers have to go through a volunteer training (this year’s training run on Tuesdays from February through April) and commit to volunteering 30 hours over the next year.
Bridges to Independence: A charity for homeless women and families, this organization was ranked one of the best charities in the D.C. area by the 2014-2015 Catalogue for Philanthropy. If you want to help make the magic happen, you can volunteer to help with all sorts of tasks including tutoring, community outreach, childcare, or providing furniture moving assistance for families when they’re placed in a permanent home!
Bread for the City: If you’re looking for a more regular opportunity, Bread for the City volunteers are asked to work at least one 3 or 4 hour shift every two weeks M-F. Bread for the City provides comprehensive care to vulnerable residents in DC, ranging from food and clothing to legal assistance and medical services. As a volunteer, there are a wide variety of ways to get involved.
Smithsonian: When it’s cold outside… rush en masse to free museums! There are plenty of opportunities at the Smithsonian besides just browsing, so if you’d like to get involved on a volunteer basis to help out as a guide, museum desk specialist, or with doing something behind the scenes, there are many opportunities to be a part of this large local institution.
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Food for Others: Founded in 1995 (they celebrated their 20th anniversary this month!) this organization provides food for those in need living in Northern Virginia. Among other duties you can help in the warehouse, with distributing food, or with office tasks.
Signature Theatre: We’re almost done with rooftop bars, it’s time for hibernating… and for seeing good shows. If you’re really into supporting theater and love watching your fair share too, check out the volunteer opportunities at Signature Theater, such as ushering shows this winter.
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Carpenter’s Shelter: Winter is unsurprisingly the toughest time for shelters as it is when they usually see the most traffic and need the most support. You can volunteer at the winter shelter or drop-in shelter run by this NoVa organization. Or you can volunteer to help out with administrative tasks if that’s more your wheel house.
Back on My Feet – Yes, it’s chilly. Yes, runs start at 5:45 a.m. Yes, it’s totally worth it. Volunteers join this organization in its admirable mission of getting homeless individuals literally back on their feet through daily runs. If individuals attend runs regularly, they become eligible for additional support from BoMF, such as job training and interview opportunities. The program has seen significant success– one former BoMF runner is now manager of a local running store and club.
Food & Friends: A wonderful organization that operates in the greater DC area, Food & Friends provides meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. Volunteers can partake in everything from meal prep and delivery to special events and fundraisers.
Jewish Social Service Agency: JSSA provides volunteers with a number of different ways to give back to the community, such as delivering food to seniors, providing end of life comfort and care, or spending time with young adults on the autism spectrum.
Happy holidays and we hope you take the time to enjoy some of these activities and put a smile on someone else’s face. As always, if you have suggestions for other great organizations or holiday volunteer opportunities, please share them in the comments section!
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