The holidays are a time for giving, spending time with family and being thankful for all the good things in your life. What better season to volunteer your time for a worthy cause? If you’re in the mood to give back, but stumped deciding where to start, here are a few organizations with an immediate need for volunteers this holiday season.
Houston Food Bank
The Houston Food Bank distributes an astonishing 122 million meals per year, and it takes a lot of manpower to make that happen! Volunteers are needed to organize food drives, volunteer at Portwall Warehouse and Keegan Kitchen and assist clients in signing up for state benefits like WIC and SNAP. Look for Houston Food Bank’s red donation barrels in the grocery store and make a habit of picking up a few extra non-perishable items on each shopping trip to contribute. If your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to give of your time, donations of food and money are always in high demand. To find out how you can help, call 713-547-8604 or visit their website at houstonfoodbank.org.
The WorkFaith Connection
There’s never a good time to be out of a job, but being unemployed during the Christmas season is particularly stressful. The WorkFaith Connection helps disadvantaged job seekers gain the skills they need to succeed and get their lives back on track. WorkFaith Connection is a Christian organization that offers spiritual guidance in addition to traditional job-related services like mock interviews, resume creation assistance, and training. Their 8-day workshops have been helping Houston’s unemployed since 2006.
As the organization has grown, the services offered have broadened to include anger management, conflict resolution, personal finance management, and other important skills that reach beyond job searching and help participants become self-sufficient, productive members of society. Many of WorkFaith Connection’s program participants are recovering addicts, formerly incarcerated, or struggling with homelessness, and qualified volunteers with a heart to help are always needed. Contact Abigail Olds at 713-936-9052 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit workfaithconnection.org/get-involved to learn more or sign up to volunteer.
Nature and Wildlife
The Greater Houston area offers numerous volunteer opportunities for outdoor lovers. Green-thumb volunteers are needed to help with some ongoing park beautification projects around the Houston area (many still recovering from Harvey’s devastation). Jesse Jones Park in Humble needs volunteers on December 8 and 15, to help plant native plants and get rid of invasive species. On December 22 the park will have an event making edible decorative treats for birds and wildlife. Contact Kim Hammond at 281-446-8588 or email@example.com to sign up.
Sheldon Lake State Park needs help staffing their holiday event on December 9, to help with games and crafts. On December 15 the park is holding a volunteer orientation on December 15, and volunteer opportunities include helping with field trips, prairie restoration, and bird surveys. To learn more, contact Taylor Shimabukuro at 281-456-2800 x230, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit here for a complete list of all Gulf Coast Texas Parks & Wildlife volunteer opportunities.
Harris County Pets
The holidays are a busy time for pet adoption, and the Harris County Animal Shelter is in need of volunteers to December 1, 8, and 15 to help run their mobile clinics. Volunteers would get to hold and pet animals while they are getting vaccinations and microchips, push through adoption paperwork, and help educate the public about responsible pet ownership. On December 5, 6, and 13, newly admitted homeless pets need to be bathed, groomed, and photographed for their adoption profiles. Gotta get those pups looking camera-ready so the get placed in a forever home ASAP! To volunteer, please contact Jessica Hernandez at 832-927-1141 or email@example.com.
As always, there is an urgent need for fosters and adoptive families. If you’ve been thinking of getting or gifting a furry friend for Christmas, please adopt from one of Harris County’s overcrowded animal shelters. Harris County Animal Shelter (maybe you’ll fall in love when you volunteer!), the Houston SPCA, BARC and Houston Humane Society are often at capacity. No-kill shelters such as Friends for Life and Houston Pets Alive! also find themselves overwhelmed with homeless pets. Please always adopt, don’t shop.
City Wide Club
The City Wide Club puts on a massive “Super Feast” each Thanksgiving and Christmas. While it’s too late to help with the former, there are still lots of extra hands needed for the Christmas Eve event. In addition to a hot meal, each Super Feast guest is eligible to receive clothing, household items, blankets, shoes, and toys, as well as flu shots, medical exams, and haircuts. You can sign up for a morning or afternoon shift and still have plenty of time to spend with your family at home. Better yet, volunteer together! If traveling or family obligations prevent you from helping out on the day-of, donate nonperishable foods ahead of time, organize a neighborhood toy drive, or donate funding. Contact 713-752-2582 or visit citywideclub.com/super-feast.html for more information.
If none of these great causes sound like the best use of your abilities, there are tons of other options available! Visit www.volunteerhouston.org to be matched with an organization that could use your help and skills. Of course, the need for volunteers doesn’t stop when the last Christmas gift is unwrapped. If you find a group you’re passionate about helping, stick with them throughout the year. You’ll be glad you did!
Featured image c/o Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center