The holiday season is here, and while giving and receiving gifts to and from loved ones is enjoyable, the holiday season is also a great time for giving to our communities. The Burkholder Brothers team frequently participates in community events and we know that many of our Main Line community neighbors want to help as well. For this holiday season, we discuss 5 ways to volunteer and help those less fortunate in our communities.
One of the most popular and common ways people volunteer during the holidays is by serving meals at a local soup kitchen. According to the USDA, in 2018, roughly “1.1 percent (14.3 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time.” Food is one of the most flexible expenditures, and can be frequently disrupted when income falls or unemployment strikes. Insecurity also increases the risk of illness or infection, especially among many food-insecure children.
Soup kitchens are always in need of volunteers, so taking time out of your day to help feed hungry people makes a big difference. In the past, we have partnered with our customers and the Chester County Food Bank to provide canned goods. The CCFB supports locations throughout Malvern and the Main Line area, where you can donate canned goods and/or time to help fight hunger in your local community. Visit the CCFB volunteer page to learn more.
In addition to volunteering your time, you can also donate toys for local children. Children love to open Christmas presents, but many underprivileged children are unable to experience that feeling. Donate toys and help bring a sense of joy to children in need. Many opportunities exist locally, such as the West Chester Toy Drive and Toys for Tots collection locations, for Main Line residents to donate gifts for children.
The holidays are a time to connect with and bond with family, especially elderly family members who may need care. Many elderly people in nursing homes, senior centers, or hospitals lack interaction with visitors during the holidays. Loneliness is a major issue for seniors living alone or in retirement homes, but volunteering your time can make a big difference for them.
Connecting with seniors can be done in a variety of ways. Do you play an instrument? Play some music. Are you skilled in arts or crafts? Share your hobbies with Main Line seniors. You can also bring over a deck of cards and play some games, or sit down and share stories to learn from their experiences. If you can, feel free to help the staff out, too. The giving spirit of the holidays extends beyond food and toys and to compassion and community.
While most people think of volunteering during the holidays as helping out other people, animals are in need, too. Donating food, toys, blankets, and other supplies to a local animal shelter can give animals without a home needed comfort and care.
Once again, we also encourage you to donate your time and help the busy staff. Cleaning the shelter, feeding animals, walking dogs and socializing cats, or office tasks are all ways to volunteer your time and help both the staff and the animals. Contact your local animal shelter and ask about volunteering opportunities since some services might be more needed than others. You can also consider fostering animals over the holidays. Regular foster families may go away on vacation to visit family, the need for short term fosters is often greater during the holidays.
One of the ways to volunteer that has become popular in recent years is to sponsor or “adopt” a family. The language may be different, but the idea is the same: you apply to a local organization and receive the wish list of a family in need. You buy and wrap the presents and other needed items, and they are delivered to an underprivileged family. Many organizations in our area have such programs.
Sponsoring a family is a great way to volunteer because we are reminded of what the holidays are about: giving to others, those in need, and connecting with our communities. Helping others during the holidays can mean more than buying presents or gifts. Your time, skills, hobbies, and even your company are all gifts. So if you are able, connect with and help those less fortunate, and have a wonderful holiday season. Looking for other local ways to volunteer or help out this holiday season? Main Line Today has some great ideas as well.
This year at the Burkholder Holiday Pop Up Market, we are holding fundraisers for the Paoli Hospital Auxiliary and the West Chester Friends School PTO. Visit us and browse through our selection of fresh, Pennsylvania-grown Christmas trees, wreaths, and many more unique holiday gifts. On November 11 through November 22, you can take advantage of our pre-season sale, where you can receive up to 50% off items in the market. Visit our holiday page for more information on dates, activities, and special events, or contact us directly.