Every year people find the Good Samaritan within him or her and pick a shelter or soup kitchen to volunteer at through the holiday season. Giving is one of the biggest and best themes of the holidays, but why is it only during the holidays that people find the urge to give the strongest? Places like the HOPE Center, the Carroll County CASA and the Carrollton Housing Authority are all grateful for the help their organizations receive during Christmas and Thanksgiving, but see a decrease in volunteers once the holidays are over.
If anything, after the holidays is when organizations need the most help from volunteers to start collecting more donations to properly care for those in its programs.
“People are usually recovering from the beating their wallets take during the holidays,” said David Scott, a yearly volunteer at the Carroll County Soup Kitchen. “I know I really can’t afford to donate or volunteer much after the holidays are over.”
Because the organization does not adequately prepare for the “Big Push,” as shelters and kitchens call them, this is one of the biggest issues contributing to the deficiency in volunteering after the holidays. The “Big Push” is the requesting and advertising for donations all year. Shelters, as well as organizations, like Toys for Tots or local soup kitchens, advertise for donations leading up to the holidays.
“Since I can’t donate, I volunteer instead and like to help feed the people or provide clean blankets and clothes,” said Scott.
People forget that volunteering is not all about how much you can buy and give. It is about spending your time interacting with people who do not always have the opportunity to interact with the community in a positive environment. While donations are greatly appreciated, it is the human-to-human contact that people in shelters miss and enjoy during the holidays.
“You can’t trade the interactions you have with the people in these shelters,” said Scott. “Their experiences and stories are unbelievable and help me to be appreciative for everything that me and my family have.”
The spirit of giving does not have to end with the holiday season. Even if one cannot afford to give money or supplies, they can make time to become a volunteer. The real reason to volunteer is to show people in situations of need and homelessness that there are people that still see them as human beings—people that believe others deserve better than the cards that they have been dealt in their lives. The people in the shelters are forever grateful for the help they receive and the supplies they are given to succeed and rebuild their lives.
The biggest thing the people remember about interacting with volunteers is the genuine warmth that can be felt when a volunteer whole-heartedly puts all they have into serving others that are in need.