Spirit of Giving: 10 Great Places to Volunteer This Season
PHOTO COURTESY OF FEED THE CHILDREN
There's no better time to give back to your community than the holiday season. Teach your kids the value of giving back to others by volunteering as a family at one of these local non-profits.
Here are additional organizations that you and your family can serve regardless of the time of year: www.metrofamilymagazine.com/Family-Volunteer-Opportunities/
Culinary Kitchen, 7222 N. Western Ave
Families with kids as young as 8 can help cook turkeys for two Thanksgiving lunches for the homeless in our community; one for Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City and the other for Food and Shelter in Norman. Using the Culinary Kitchen showroom hundreds of turkeys are prepped and cooked to moist and juicy perfection. No cooking experience is necessary. Sign up quicklybecause slots will fill up fast and pay close attention to the timing as the Tango happens around the clock.
333 N. Meridian Ave.
Feed the Children’s Teacher Store provides books and supplies to teachers in Title 1 schools across our state free of charge. Your family can help sort and stock shelves with essentials teachers need for their classroom or spend time in the warehouse filling boxes with food and essentials that will be delivered to families in need and backpacks full of school supplies for homeless kids across the U.S. There are volunteer shifts available mostly Monday through Friday but some evening and Saturday opportunities are available. Create a volunteer profile at www.feedthechildren.org/act/volunteer to be matched with the right opportunity for your family.
800 W. California Ave.
Families can serve during the Mission’s annual Christmas Banquet on Christmas Day, help in the toy store that homeless parents shop for Christmas presents for their kids, work in the Food Resource Center or organize a neighborhood collection for food, toys, gifts or year-round needs like new socks and underwear. Register online to browse opportunities and sign up to help at www.cityrescue.org.
210 S. Cockrel, Norman
Through the Holiday Wishes Program, the Center for Children and Families provides the hundreds of children they serve with gifts and families in need with important essentials this holiday season. Your family can adopt a child’s wish list and shop for gifts, donate $25 gift cards that will be used to purchase kids’ clothing or conduct a drive for toys, books, gift cards and warm weather essentials that will help bring joy to those having difficulties this holiday season.
6800 N.W. 39th Expressway, Bethany
Be a holiday helper and collect items the hospital uses the most, like baby shampoo or the 5,000 diapers used a week as well as books, music and toys to support patients in special education and therapy sessions. Families can also adopt a patient this holiday season and shop from a wish list of individualized needs like therapeutic items, bedside entertainment and gifts. The hospital staff puts together a list of five wishes that cost $25 or less for families to choose three to purchase.
5728 S. May Ave.
Formerly known as the Christmas Connection, Sharing Tree is now open year-round, stocked with clothing, household items and basic necessities for Oklahoma children and families in need. Come Christmas, the shelves of the facility will be brimming with even more blessings. Laid out like a department store, Sharing Tree customers can enjoy a dignified shopping experience at no cost. But, they need the communities help to pull it all off. Volunteers are needed to sort donations, stock shelves, hang coats and clothing and complete variety of other tasks in order have it all ready in time. Families with kids as young as 13 can help with the holiday preparations and kids 15 and older can help during the Christmas shopping days.
For 23 years, Samaritan’s Purse has been on a mission they call Operation Christmas Child. Local families from across the nation fill shoeboxes with gifts, hygiene items, school supplies and a personal note and photo. Samaritan’s Purse then uses the treasures and personal letters inside to communicate with millions of children in more than 150 countries that someone cares for them. During National Collection Week, your family can assemble one or more boxes and drop them off at one of the local drop-off locations that can be found out www.samaritanspurse.org.
730 W. Wilshire Creek Blvd., Ste. 112
Just before Christmas arrives Santa’s Helpers are hard at work preparing many wonderful surprises and your family can be one of those helpers. Through the Joy 4 Kids programs, thousands of gifts are collected for Oklahoma foster kids and volunteers are needed to help at the gift drop off location. Families can help collect, sort and organize the donations to ensure the gifts make it to their important final destination by Christmas morning. Kids grade 9 and up can help without a parent present and younger kids are welcome on a case-by-case basis.
Families also are invited to help in the Resources Center. Open year-round, foster kids can shop for essentials like clothing, shoes, pajamas, coats and books. Volunteers are needed to sort clothing, help with inventory, stock shelves and assemble kits and duffel bags and more.
1001 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
November and December are very active months for The Salvation Army which means there are plenty of opportunities for volunteers to get involved. Families can help with the Thanksgiving Day festivities at The Salvation Army Chesapeake Energy Center of Hope or donate a turkey for the community meal. Sign up to participate as a bell ringer, adopt an angel from an Angel Tree or organize a toy drive at your local school, business or church group.
Other volunteer opportunities include: providing, preparing and serving an evening meal in The Salvation Army Red Shield Diner, assisting clients with their groceries in the Client Choice Food pantry and spending time with seniors at one of their five senior centers. For more information regarding these volunteer opportunities, please contact Liz Banks at 246-1107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1232 NW Classen Blvd.
Donors and volunteers can help create a festive, warm shopping experience for 450 families in the metro. The community is invited help stock the shoppe by purchasing new gift items for children of all ages and their parents. Shop and deliver the unwrapped items with tags attached to one of the drop off locations by Dec. 6. Volunteers can help decorate the store, sort donations, greet and guide the shoppers through St. Nick's Shoppe and assist with gift-wrapping. Visit averygivingchristmas.org for a list of donation drop off locations or call 609-1755 for more information about volunteering.
Again, find our full list of volunteer opportunities here: www.metrofamilymagazine.com/Family-Volunteer-Opportunities/
And during November, consider helping local pets by participating in our "Roxy Pays It Forward" pet food drive. All the details are here. Thanks to K9 University for hosting this food drive!