The holiday season has always been a time of giving back. It brings a sense of selflessness and gratefulness that concludes the old year and rings in the new. While many university students go home for a month of home-cooked meals surrounded by family and friends to exchange gifts, there are others who are not so fortunate.
From serving food at soup kitchens, t0 collecting and sorting through toy donations, to rescuing stray animals, t0 simply being a companion, there are several ways to show those in need that they, too, are being thought of during the holidays. Included here is a list of volunteer opportunities in the Baltimore area for this upcoming holiday season.
- Maryland Food Bank
Located in Halethorpe, just 20 miles from Stevenson’s campus, The Maryland Food Bank is a nonprofit organization that works to fight hunger within the state by bringing healthy foods to communities in need. They cannot succeed in the work they do without the assistance of volunteers. There are many opportunities for students, business groups, families, and others to donate their time, such as working in the kitchen, in the offices, or in the warehouses. For more information on how to volunteer, visit www.mdfoodbank.org.
- Innterim Housing Corporation
St. Vincent de Paul Baltimore is an organization that paves the way for individuals and families to find permanent housing, meals, job training skills, and education. As of 2017, Innterim House is one of the several programs they offer. This program offers houses in Pikesville for families who are transitioning from shelters to a permanent residences to live in. Opportunities to volunteer include helping with meal services, youth and family activities, and office assistant positions. Innterim Housing Corporation is in Pikesville, which is less than 10 miles from campus. Visit http://www.vincentbaltimore.org/our-programs/innterim-house-and-innterim-gardens for more information about volunteering opportunities.
- Second Chance
This organization deconstructs buildings that will be demolished or destroyed and offers the reclaimed material to the public. The proceeds help fund their job training and workforce development programs. According to its website, “Second Chance is a 501©(3) nonprofit that provides people, materials, and the environment with a second chance.” With the help of volunteers, Second Chance can help bring its mission to a wider population. For additional information, visit www.secondchanceinc.org.
4. Catholic Charities
Since 1972, Catholic Charities has helped support families and children who are in crisis, living in poverty, living with intellectual disabilities, and living in the immigrant community. The programs and services they offer support the needs of their clients and foster independence and self-sufficiency. Visit https://www.catholiccharities-md.org/home/volunteer-to-bring-christmas-cheer-to-those-in-need/ to access their webpage for more information and volunteer opportunities for the holidays .
5. Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels provides meals, contact, and other services to ensure independent living for individuals. Their mission is carried out through creativity, accountability, responsiveness, and energy, in addition to the help of their countless volunteers. Volunteer opportunities range from meal delivery to grocery shopping to being a phone pal. Visit their website at www.mealsonwheelsmd.org for more information or to register to volunteer.
6. Maryland Book Bank
This organization brings books to families, teachers, schools, and other organizations throughout the state. This year alone, almost 300,000 books have been distributed, and almost two million have been distributed in the last two decades. On its website, The Maryland Book Bank said it is, “a nonprofit organization committed to cultivating literacy in children from under-resourced neighborhoods.” Individuals, groups, and students can volunteer their time at the Book Bank. Visit www.mdbookbank.org for more information and to sign up to volunteer.
Playworks is dedicated to ensuring the effective use of recess in schools by facilitating physical, social, and emotional health and learning. Volunteers take on the role of being a mentor for the children they interact with. Volunteer opportunities include taking the role of Assistant Playground Coach, Junior Coach Partner, Sports League Support, or Special Events Volunteer. For more information, go to www.playworks.org.
- United Way of Central Maryland
United Way is a nonprofit organization that helps individuals and families meet their basic needs. They work to lead families and individuals in the community to a self-sufficient life in terms of housing, meals, education, health, and more. UWCM is currently seeking Holiday Helpers for the upcoming holiday season. Holiday Helpers would bring the holiday spirit to struggling families by adopting a family in need, running a toy drive, sending gifts, or volunteering in person at the pop-up market. For more information about the organization, their mission, and volunteer opportunities, visit www.uwcm.org.
- Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter
Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) is the largest animal shelter and pet adoption center in Maryland. They take in approximately 30 rescues a day and cater to the needs of the animal, whether it be medical care, shelter, food, etc. There are dozens of opportunities to volunteer with the BARCS during the holidays, such as being involved with direct animal care, customer service, special projects, and community programs. BARCS is 20 miles from Stevenson’s Owings Mills campus and is located next to the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. For additional information, go to www.baltimoreanimalshelter.org.
- Santa’s Helpers Anonymous
Founded in 1989, Santa’s Helpers Anonymous is 100 percent volunteer driven, with no paid employees, and it helps over 1,000 families a year. According to its website, the organization’s growth has been achieved by the perseverance of the “volunteer support of the hundreds of ‘elves’ that donate money and dedicate time to wrapping gifts, loading boxes of food, cooking turkeys and making deliveries Christmas Eve morning. In addition, Santa’s Helpers has received help from a number of local and national businesses through free or discounted gifts, food, and warehouse space used to stage everything before delivery on Christmas Eve.” To volunteer and help wrap or deliver gifts to families in need, sign up here at http://www.santashelpersanonymous.org/volunteer.