For Holiday Spirit, Santa Claus Knows Best

The Gift of Holiday Giving Through Volunteering Benefits Everyone

          Santa Claus, in whatever imaginative incarnation a person believes him to be, is about one thing only giving. And the gift of volunteering would make Santa proud.

          The holidays are exhilarating for some and full of anguish for others. But for those who embrace the holiday season, as well as those who wish it would never arrive, there is one common denominator that can unite everyone under the banner of holiday spirit volunteering.

Holiday Volunteers Become Everyday Volunteers

​          Basic human needs are amplified in the public eye during the holidays, making the holiday season the perfect time to explore the volunteer experience. For every person who can't wait to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends or to dive into a mountain of presents under the Christmas tree, there is someone who will not have the opportunity to do either.

          Volunteer organizations customarily enjoy a surge of participation during the holidays when people catch a celebratory fever and feel more generous. That's understandable and welcome, for people who volunteer once are more likely to volunteer again. Volunteers learn that doing for others can put their own problems into perspective and instill a life-changing sense of well-being.

Community Service Opportunities and Volunteer Jobs

          When considering volunteering, many automatically think of serving meals 
to the homeless. This narrow focus is fueled every year by news programs that 
air footage of celebrities helping to serve a holiday dinner. But the opportunities 
for community involvement are far greater than just serving meals.

          A volunteer center like VolunteerMatch or, makes finding volunteer 
opportunities easy. Tailoring volunteer jobs to personal preference and specific 
location is as simple as entering a zip code and a word or two describing the type 
of volunteer work desired into a search box. Volunteers are needed for work with 
people and animals, in libraries or in the wilderness, to attend the elderly and 
interact with children, and even to bolster small businesses that serve a local 
community. Some volunteer jobs are physical while others require no more than
sitting and watching. There is something for everyone.

            Unusual ways to volunteer may include:

  •   becoming a companion caretaker to animals in shelters or watching over animals in veterinary hospital recovery rooms 
  •   helping to create a community parade float or working as a parade monitor 
  •   rowing a waterway to search for damaging debris or pond scum 
  •   crocheting or knitting dolls for children 
  •   helping refurbish musical instruments 
  •   providing art gallery or museum tours 
  •   collecting earth samples for geologists 
  •   making audio recordings of books 
  •   tending community gardens 
  •   mentoring children in arts programs that schools can no longer afford

          The opportunities are endless, and no matter a person's passion or capability, there is likely to be a matching volunteer job for which he or she would be a perfect fit. Age does not matter, nor does gender or lifestyle. The only requirement for becoming a volunteer is a willingness to help.

Turning Holiday Giving Into Forever Charitable Service

​   Every nation depends upon the selflessness of volunteers. The 
 disparity between the haves and the have-nots can be striking, but the discomfort 
  of that great divide can be lessened by the simple act of volunteering.

   The holidays are an ideal time to experience volunteering for the first 
  time. Reaching out to others enhances the holiday experience for everyone involved, 
  and it is not a great leap from that holiday adventure to embracing volunteering 
 throughout the year. Most who do so find that the giving of time and energy to help
  the planet, the less fortunate, or the neighborhood community, keeps the joyful 
  essence of the holidays alive no matter what the season may be.

          Edwin Osgood Grover, a publisher and educator who later became America's first Professor of Books at Rollins College, and whose volunteer ethics and community activism changed lives, published the following personal quote in 1912:

         "Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows; who shares his joys with those who are sad; whose hand is never closed against the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid the weak; whose sympathy is quick and genuine in time of trouble; who recognizes a comrade and brother in every man he meets upon life's common road; who lives his life throughout the entire year in the Christmas spirit."

          Personal gratification and the giving inspiration of Santa Claus lives well and strong within the heart of every volunteer every day of the year.

Corporation for National & Community Service
Rollins College

Volunteers Can Mentor in the Arts 
that Schools No Longer Offer 
Waterways Are Kept Healthy by Volunteers
Volunteers Raise Money With Relay Walks

Orphaned Animals and Community Gardens Benefit From Volunteerism
The copyright of the article For Holiday Spirit, Santa Claus Knows Best  is owned by its author, Tricia Spencer. 
Permission to republish any part of the article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing. 
Life and Living
   with Tricia Spencer