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United Way Blog

Volunteering: A Fun and Healthy Holiday Habit

The holiday season is already upon us so it must be time to … Shop? Cook? Celebrate?  Sure! And to do another fun (and healthy!) thing with your family -- volunteer. Long after the holiday meals have been eaten and the gifts and decorations are put away, your family will remember what you did together to take action and make your community a better place for all.

Did you know:

  • Volunteering as a family helps instill empathy in children and an understanding of the needs of those who have less;
  • Kids are looking to you to know how to make a difference;
  • Family volunteering fosters positive communication and strengthens bonds;
  • Volunteering is good for mental, physical and emotional health; and
  • Volunteering together while kids are young develops a “service habit” that continues into adulthood.

Your local United Way offers family volunteer opportunities throughout the year. United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, for example, brought families together in September, with 260 volunteers packing 40,000 nonperishable meals for people in need. This will go a long way to making sure that struggling families in the community have enough healthy food to eat.

This holiday season, why not start your own volunteer project?  Here are a few ideas for improving the health, education and financial stability of people of all ages.

  • Get outside and do a good deed. Make a colorful “gift” card good for a month of raking or shoveling for an elderly neighbor and get the whole family involved in the effort.
  • Make literacy kits. Collect gently used children’s books your family no longer reads. Create puppets, games and other props relating to the stories and that make reading fun, assemble them in a bag or decorated box, and donate the kits to a shelter or community center.
  • Get moving, and learning. Does your community have a Born Learning Trail? Head to the trail with your young children and enjoy the trail’s activities after picking up trash throughout the park.
  • Donate decorated shoeboxes. Use wrapping paper, glue, glitter and more to decorate shoeboxes. Fill with hygiene products and donate them to homeless shelters.

Make sure children are involved in delivering kits and shoeboxes, so they can connect the dots between the fun they had assembling the items to the people they helped. And then, choose your next service project together, while the memory is fresh and you are celebrating your service.

We’d love to hear how your family likes to volunteer together!

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.