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Tis the season to volunteer to bring cheer

By Jennifer Newman - 23 December 2016 0

Volunteer helping senior decorate her Christmas Tree. Photo: iStock

Volunteering at Christmas serves a dual purpose: you feel good and hopefully do good. The tricky part can be finding a place to volunteer. The American version of popping down to put in a few hours at the local soup kitchen doesn’t really translate in Canberra. It can take a bit of searching to find an organisation that both needs an extra pair of hands and has the capacity to accept one.

I volunteer with Red Nose (formerly SIDS & KIDS) at the Christmas lights in the city each year. Red Nose has a volunteer co-ordinator who sorts us all out the roles, gets us training, produces the rosters and manages the menagerie. Running a team of volunteers takes resources, and not every organisation can dedicate the time to the task.

For some organisations, there are almost too many offers of help to handle. Dave from Canberra OzHarvest says that OzHarvest doesn’t run on Christmas Day.

“By Christmas Eve we’ve delivered so much food the charities can’t usually take anymore due to a lack of storage space,” he says.

Here’s a hot tip for anyone planning a major post Christmas purge – last year many places stopped accepting donations in the weeks after Christmas because there were inundated. If you do decide to cleanse your wardrobe in the Christmas break, consider bagging up your donation and driving around with it in your boot for a few weeks. Well, let’s be honest, you were probably going to do that anyway, weren’t you?

Here are some options for volunteering on Christmas Day itself:

  • St John’s in Reid hosts a lunch to ensure that no one has to spend Christmas Day alone. Contact St John’s Care on 6248 7771.
  • Goodwin’s aged care facilities at Monash, Farrer and Ainslie put on a big, traditional Christmas lunch on Christmas Day and are always looking for giving souls to come and spend time with residents who may not have visitors on a given day. Contact Rhea on 6175 5075 to find out more.
  • Calvary Haydon Retirement Community is keen to hear from groups such as choirs, or entertainers who would be willing to bring some Christmas cheer into the facility. Contact Peter on 6264 7406.

The ACT Community Directory has a detailed list of services and charities looking for helpers. Check out their website here.

Do you know of a charitable organisation in need of helpers on Christmas Day, in the lead-up or afterwards? Let us know in the comments below.

Pictured above, a volunteer assists an aged care resident to decorate a Christmas tree. Photo: iStock

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