Spread holiday cheer as you volunteer

Volunteering during the holidays can brighten the mood for everyone.

Looking for a way to bring the family together this holiday season while spreading holiday cheer? Consider these fun and festive ways to volunteer to spread some cheer.

Create a festive space at a day care, senior center, religious center, food pantry or non-profit office. You may have extra decorations or that special touch that allows you to bring cheer to the spaces you touch. Many of these facilities depend on volunteers to get the decorating done and would appreciate the help.

While creating a festive environment may sound like fun to you, it is not the activity of choice for others; and for a busy non-profit leader, it may be the last thing on the list when needs are high and resources are tight. If this in one of your talents, share it with those who might otherwise not be able to enjoy or have holiday decorations.

Check with a local senior center, religious center or your neighbors to see if some of the elderly need help getting those holiday decorations up this year. Today’s families are geographically spread out and family members cannot always help one another get those decorations up so a helpful friend or neighbor can literally brighten the hearts and homes of another in just a few hours. This can be a great way to get to know your neighbors, learn about another’s traditions, spend time with someone who may otherwise be alone while enriching the lives of everyone involved, building a sense of community and maybe even kindle some new friendships.

Do you play or sing an instrument? Music never goes out the style even though the rhythm might change. Holiday classics get a makeover now and then, but the classics remain and even with a twist, they are enjoyed by multiple generations and offer smiles galore. It is not about having a perfect performance it’s about learning to perform, gaining confidence and engaging your audience. Get your friends and family involved and go caroling, visit your favorite senior center, retirement home, day care center or just entertain them with a melody of your favorite songs on your flute, piano or drums. Music makes the heart sing in every language.

Remember, volunteering does not have to be complicated or take a lot of time to have an impact. It just needs to meet a need. That need does not have to be grand; kind gestures and helping hands are what make this world a better place for all of us. Sharing a smile, lending a hand and donating a few cans of food can make a difference.

Consider how you will bring joy to others this holiday season and throughout the year. 4-H members, leaders and families across Michigan will participate in some of these activities as they adopt families, go caroling on horseback, help friends in their communities set up trees, hang lights at senior centers and collect items for local pantries. Reaching out to their communities is just one way they live the 4-H pledge. Give your hands to larger service; join the volunteer movement and spread some cheer this season!

Interested in joining a local 4-H club? Contact your Michigan State University Extension county office.

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