Throughout the holiday season, many people seek to express their festive spirit through volunteering. Due to the increased interest, however, it can be difficult to find opportunities to make a difference in the community.
Here are 10 nonprofit and volunteer programs that need a donation and provide help to those in need during the holiday season.
HandsOn River Christmas Clearinghouse
HandsOn River Region is a non-profit organization that mobilizes volunteers for a number of local causes, and its website includes a dashboard that lists dozens of community service options throughout the year. The organization also runs Christmas Clearinghouse, a seasonal project that allows community members to provide clothes, toys and other gifts for families. If you can’t afford to support an entire family, you can also donate online to the project.
The Montgomery area food bank
The Montgomery Area Food Bank welcomes individuals and groups to sort donated goods, help with bulk shipments, or organize their own food drives. The food bank accepts online monetary donations and in-person grocery donations at 521 Trade Center Drive. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Montgomery Zoo Christmas Lights Festival
The Montgomery Zoo will be hosting its Christmas Lights Festival from December 3 to 25 and needs volunteers to help with the train ride, cable car and Santa’s workshop. Shifts are from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and cannot be shared between volunteers. You can register to volunteer here.
Common Ground Christmas Store
Common Ground Montgomery is a Christian nonprofit organization in the Washington Park area and will be opening its 15th annual Christmas store this year, a place where parents can purchase gifts for their children at a 50-80% discount. The store is tentatively scheduled to open on December 18. Toy donations can be dropped off at the Common Ground office at 1516 Mobile Road, and volunteers who operate the store can complete the Volunteer Contact Form.
Montgomery Family Promise
Family Promise of Montgomery is a non-profit organization that partners with more than a dozen local churches to provide shelter, meals, transportation and support to homeless families in the area. Volunteers are needed to get families in and out, providing meals, doing laundry and more. To register, you can either contact the organization directly at (334) 265-2010 or contact one of the churches listed on the website.
Meals on wheels
Meals on Wheels is a national program that provides hot meals to seniors who are often unable to prepare their own meals. The association still needs drivers to deliver meals and monetary donations. Driver routes consist of 10-14 houses and typically take an hour. There is also a one hour training session that volunteers must complete before driving. To register, you can fill out the form here.
Operation Santa Claus
Operation Santa Claus is a giveaway campaign that Mental Health America in Montgomery runs each year to deliver goodies to those who otherwise would not receive them. The campaign needs volunteers to send in requests, buy and wrap gifts, deliver gifts and help with the annual holiday party until December 17th. Volunteers can register using this form.
Friendship Mission is a local non-profit organization that provides shelter, meals and counseling to the homeless. The organization needs volunteers to do manual labor such as gardening and tutors to help school-aged children and adults prepare for their GED. To volunteer, however, Friendship Mission requires you to call (334) 356-6412 and register online at least a month in advance.
The Salvation Army angel tree
The Salvation Army runs its Angel Tree program every year, allowing people to “adopt an angel” and give Christmas gifts to a local child. You can register to sponsor a child through this form, and use the code “MM” to make sure the child you are matched with is in the Montgomery area.
Caffey Development Center pantry
Every third Saturday of the month, the Caffey Development Center distributes free cans and frozen foods to those in need, and volunteers are needed to organize and distribute the food. Donations are also welcome. Interested volunteers can contact the center at (850)485-1208 or [email protected]. The pantry is located at 164 East South Boulevard.
Hadley Hitson covers the rural south for Montgomery Advertiser and Report for America. She can be reached at [email protected].