While the holidays can be a time of excess (food, gifts or money spent), that excess can also be a time to remind us of how fortunate we are to have that opportunity. Helping out a charity, through time spent volunteering, giving a cash donation or a donation of food/items can be a great way to get people, especially kids, thinking about how important it is to give back to the community. It's also a good reminder for kids to be thankful for what they have, instead of wishing for more.
Here are five non-profits you and our family can support this holiday season. This is just a short list of places looking for volunteers, and remember that many of these organizations need help year-round, not just during the holidays.
Bethlehem Inn is an emergency shelter for individuals and families experiencing homeless in Central Oregon. They provide a place to sleep as well as nourishing meals. One way your family can help them out is by preparing food for their dinners or brunches. The folks at Bethlehem Inn have tried to make this as easy as possible by giving volunteers access to the kitchen and pantry, or if it's easier for you to cook at home (which might be a nice bonding and/or learning experience for your kids) you can borrow their restaurant style pans to make transport easier. They are also looking for volunteers to make freezer meals for those days when the planned meal falls through and will provide the aluminum pans to make storage easy. If you'd like to volunteer with Bethlehem Inn, go to https://bethleheminn.org/volunteer/.
Humane Society of Central Oregon
For those pet-loving families, this opportunity will be a breeze. There are a variety of ways to help out—from fostering dogs and cats in your own home to reading to the animals as part of the Tales for Tails program. This option is great for kids ages 9 and up who want to improve their reading skills but also hang out with some adorable furry friends. If your family is crafty, you could also make cat or dog toys for the animals at the Humane Society. For more information, visit www.hsco.org/hsco-volunteer-needs/.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore
If helping build a house seems like too much of an undertaking, volunteering with the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore might be a more suitable option. There are stores in Bend and Redmond that take donations and always need volunteer help. ReStore sells a wide range of reclaimed items, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity programs. Volunteers can do anything from help run the cash register, accept donations or reclaim supplies from houses. ReStore works with volunteers ages 9 and up who want to work alongside a parent volunteer. To connect with ReStore about volunteering, head to https://restorebend.org/volunteer/.
This organization offers a wide variety of activities, because they provide numerous services for the community. NeighborImpact serves residents in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties by helping to provide basic needs like food. They also go beyond basic necessities, helping improve people's lives by teaching them skills to improve their chances of getting a job, leading them to a more independent life. Their mobile food pantry feeds those in need, the Head Start program takes care of children while their parents are working and their Home Source program teaches financial literacy. All of these programs need volunteers. To get involved with NeighborImpact, go to www.neighborimpact.org/give-help/volunteer/.
School Holiday Drives
This last one isn't a specific non-profit, but the chances are high that your child's school is probably hosting some kind of holiday charity drive. Many schools have supported the Family Access Network in the past, so that students attending schools can get extra support if they need it. Encourage your child to find out more about the charity drive at their school and talk to their friends about what they can do to get involved.
Most non-profits require some sort of volunteer application, and often times need a background check before accepting a volunteer—so don't just show up and expect to help out. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though it may not feel as personal, financial donations are one of the best ways to support a non-profit. This is a great option to keep in mind if you are short on time this holiday season but still want to help out your community, and it can be a great way to talk to your kids about charity. Kids practice reading skills while connecting with furry friends through the Humane Society's Tales for Tails Program.