The holiday season is here, and it's the season of giving. But we're not just talking about giving presents to loved ones and trying to woo your office crush. We're talking about giving back to the community. Whether you are helping out by making donations to the Red Cross to support hurricane relief or serving meals at a local soup kitchen, every ounce of effort that you can give matters. We've compiled a list of ways you can help others in need this holiday season, and we urge anyone willing and able to do so! Basically all you need are arms, legs, a warm smile, and willingness to help.
Be a Santa to a Senior is a program put on by Home Instead Senior Care to spread holiday cheer to lonely or financially challenged seniors. The program works with nonprofit agencies and local retailers to collect, wrap, and deliver gifts to lonely and needy seniors in San Francisco. It's pretty simple: Trees are put up in local businesses bearing ornaments with gift suggestions on them. Participants then remove ornaments from the tree, purchase the gifts and bring them back to the store for collection and distribution. Since introducing the program, the organization has helped provide 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 seniors.
The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to drive and deliver meals on Christmas morning to 5,000 homebound individuals throughout San Francisco. Many of these recipients are unable to attend congregate feeding sites due to mental and physical disabilities, and for some this meal visit might be the only company they receive on Christmas Day. Volunteer drivers can register online and require only a vehicle, driver, and passenger to deliver meals to grateful seniors. There are three delivery shifts (8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., or 9 a.m.), so put that car to a use that's not just commuting and polluting!
Maybe helping out other people isn't your thing, but you still want to volunteer this season to get a last-chance karma boost before the new year (or the apocalypse). Prefer saving the environment? All this winter rain has loosened the soil and and created optimal planting conditions for young local plants, so come get your hands dirty with Save the Bay. Volunteer planting and restoration events are happening all over the Bay Area as part of the Winter Planting Festival and willing volunteers are needed help the organization get closer to their goal of re-establishing 100,000 acres of Bay wetland to support a sustainable ecosystem for future generations.
Everyone knows that Union Square is the place to go to witness the best decorations and hustle and bustle of the holidays. Window displays in Union Square are famously elaborate this time of year, and you could volunteer for the best job of all: hanging out with ridiculously cute puppies and kittens as a Holiday Windows Greeter at Macy's. Last year, SPCA volunteers helped 320 animals find new homes and raised more than $75,000 for life-saving programming. What better way can you think of to lend a hand this holiday season?
These opportunities are just a few of the many ways you can get involved in volunteering and helping out during the holidays. We encourage anyone with a bit of extra time off to put down the eggnog, get up off the couch, and try to make someone's life a little brighter. For a longer list of other resources and events happening in the city, check out volunteer listings here and here. Here's to feeling good and doing good!