For many, the holidays are a time filled with the love and laughter of friends and family. Warm homes provide shelter, stomachs are filled with delicious food and gifts bring smiles to the faces of the young and old alike. However, there are a lot of people who are not as fortunate to experience as fulfilling of a season.

One of the greatest gifts you or your loved ones can give during the holidays is time and service. Volunteering certainly has its benefits, including improved self-esteem, lower rates of depression and building connection with others in your community. If you are someone who wants to make an impact in your community this holiday season, here are a few ideas on how you can help:

  • Commit time to a shelter or food pantry. Shelters and food pantries are busy during the holidays, full with individuals and families looking for a safe place to stay and a filling meal. Whether it’s a long-term commitment or simply one afternoon during the month, the time you give will have an impact. Contact Manna Community Meal soup kitchen if you’re in the metro Detroit area, Feeding America West Michigan, or Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan to volunteer.
  • Donate the necessities. Personal hygiene products are an essential need for the homeless. Head to your local drugstore and purchase items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, warm socks, shoes and feminine products and donate them to your local shelter or men’s/women’s home.
  • Let go of the old (or bring in the new). As Michiganders, we all know how cold our winters can get. This is why it’s so important that the homeless have clothing that can protect them from the bitter cold temperatures. Donations of brand new or gently worn clothing like sweaters, pants, warm socks, shoes or coats are a simple gesture that will make a big difference.
  • Make a special package. During your next trip to the grocery store, pick up a few extra items that you can pack for a healthy, filling lunch, including fruit, water, and turkey meat for a sandwich. As an added bonus, fill each lunch with a small token, such as a handwritten note, as an expression of care.


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