This holiday season, volunteer your time


Amber Nathan

Third-year communications student Kaitlyn Walton says to keep giving once the holidays pass.

Amber Nathan, Editor-in-Chief

I find giving is often more satisfying than getting.

This holiday season, get into the spirit of giving and watch your happiness skyrocket.

One way to do this is by volunteering time and resources to those in need.

Tresa Ballard, service-learning coordinator for the Sarbanes Center for Public and Community Service, said giving is not necessarily about doing something big. Ballard said students can do small, simple things to give back.

“It can be something [as] simple as … spending time with a neighbor or wrapping a gift or present for someone,” Ballard said. “I think it’s just having a willing heart for service.”

Students encouraged their peers to give back in creative ways and continue to volunteer after the holidays.

“Keep an open mind,” second-year transfer studies student Elizabeth Morehouse said about helping people this holiday season. “There are so many different ways you can help out and so many different things you can help out [with].”

Morehouse works for a nonprofit organization and encourages students to look outside the box when searching for where to volunteer.

“Because so many people are looking for soup kitchens, sometimes they can get overwhelmed with volunteers,” Morehouse said. “Other nonprofits …  may need your help that aren’t the typical ones that people usually think of.”

Examples of this may be organizations that work with special needs children or a crisis relief center.

But Morehouse suggested students also remember that these organizations need help year-round, and not just during the holiday season.

Third-year communications student Kaitlyn Walton said she also wants people to give back year-round.

“What I would hope is that people may … give back [during] the holidays and then keep doing it throughout the year,” Walton said.

Food pantries, according to Ballard, are a little bare during January and February when people have exhausted their holiday giving.

Walton suggested collaborating on efforts to help the needy to make volunteering more fun.

“I really like volunteering with groups because it’s a good way to know you’re doing something good while also getting to meet people,” Walton said.

If you want to give back this season, here are a few more tips to get you started:

1. Search local organizations in your area that may need your help. You don’t have to travel far to find people in need.

2. If you are at school all the time, start your giving there. Visit the Sarbanes Center on campus to find volunteer opportunities. If none of those opportunities fit your schedule, Ballard encourages students to come to her to create their own volunteer projects.

3. Don’t use time as an excuse to procrastinate on giving this holiday season. Walton said volunteering is more flexible than you may think. You can pick and choose time slots that work with your schedule, and volunteer work doesn’t have to take more than an hour of your time. Every little bit helps.

4. If you need a little motivation, Ballard reminds students that volunteer work looks great on resumes. Do not help people for only this reason but do remember you can also benefit from giving.

Now is a good time to start volunteering. But don’t stop once the holidays pass.

Amber Nathan is a second-year communications student and editor-in-chief of Campus Current.