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Philanthropy Thought Leader Uncategorized

This Season, Give Back to Get in the Holiday Spirit

Every holiday season brings with it a certain level of excitement and anticipation. Holiday shoppers raid department stores for incredible blockbuster deals. Children rip away at meticulously crafted wrapping paper. Families gather around dinner tables to spend quality time with loved ones. All around, there are examples and reminders of the undeniable energy that fills our hearts around the holiday season.

While there is nothing wrong with the holiday spirit lending itself to such gift-giving culture, the reality for many individuals and families throughout Greater Atlanta is that the holiday season only brings with it a greater weight – an additional burden on top of making ends meet. The good news is that you, regardless of your financial capacity to give, can volunteer your time, your talents, and even your treasure to making the holidays a great season for those less fortunate.

You’ve heard before that time is money, but did you know that the value of a volunteer hour is $23.07? Contacting a local nonprofit agency and simply making yourself available for a few hours can save an agency hundreds of dollars – especially if you recruit friends and families for the cause. Even better — just by offering your time, you are freeing the agency to focus their energy and effort on doing what they do best. Showing up with a heart of service and an open mind can go a long way to making a difference, even if you don’t immediately see the impact.

You may not be the most creative or the most artistic, but chances are you are talented enough in some capacity to make an immeasurable difference in someone’s life. Consider meal-serving opportunities, which range from providing an entire lunch or dinner for residents to serving soup or sandwiches at a shelter. If you’ve got a green thumb or like getting your hands dirty, there are several community gardens serving neighborhoods that could use your help. If you’re less handy, but equipped with a mind full of ideas and knowledge – consider spending that paid time off helping a nonprofit agency through skills-based volunteerism, reading to children, or mentoring youth.

While financial contributions go a long way toward sustaining nonprofits in your community and providing services to individuals and families in need, donating treasure means more than giving money. If you have clothes in good condition that are just taking up space in your closet, there are agencies and shelters more than willing to take them. In fact, many things that we take for granted would be indescribably appreciated in someone’s hands – from hygiene items to school supplies and everything in between.

If you’re motivated to do some great work in the community this holiday season, United Way of Greater Atlanta invites you to reach out for help locating where the needs in your community are according to your interests. On Saturday December 2, join us for our annual Holiday Care Package Project, where your time, decorating talents, and donated treasures will go to human trafficking survivors. In the coming weeks, we’ll also be announcing a full day of volunteer opportunities, complete with 10 sites to choose from, for our third annual LINC HoliDAY of Service. Either way, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved before and after December 2nd.

If you need help determining how to make the best use of your time, talent, and treasure, feel free to reach out to the volunteerism team at United Way of Greater Atlanta (volunteer@unitedwayatlanta.org) and be sure to check out our website for more opportunities.

Rennard Westley is and Engagement Specialist in Volunteerism at United Way of Greater Atlanta.

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