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Volunteering: a way to give

Holidays bring opportunities to meet crucial service needs

Around this time of year, many teens are focused on getting the latest iPhone or the newest pair of shoes for themselves, not others. During the holiday season, and Christmas especially, it is worth considering whether this mentality should be flipped.

Jessa Anderson, the cultural immersion director at Minnehaha, would like to see more teens thinking about those in need and what they can do to help. Anderson’s family recently volunteered at Foster the Love. This organization allows people to pack backpacks for kids who are going into foster care and were only able to grab a few things when they left.

Anderson said that volunteering “changes other people but mostly, it changes ourselves.”

This is just one way to volunteer but there are many other ways to help members of our community. Volunteering is all about finding something that you enjoy, have fun doing and finding something that you are interested in.

Anderson says, “People are more motivated to do something when it is something…they’re passionate about.” Anderson says.

Everyone can volunteer and help other people; it doesn’t take a special person to be able to be effective in volunteering, to help someone get food or to get something that they need, you just need to, “move out of your comfort zone,” Anderson says, “If you have breath in your lungs you have the ability to volunteer and to serve other people.”

Finding opportunities to volunteer this holiday season is easy, whether you are interested in feeding the homeless or giving Christmas gifts to kids who might not get any. Hands On Twin Cities is an organization where you can create a profile, select your interests and the website will provide you with many different options for volunteering based on your interests.

Loaves and Fishes is an organization that gives hungry people food to eat. It serves people who can’t afford to buy food. Loaves and Fishes is a non-profit that believes everyone deserves to meet their basic need for food, dignity, and respect.

Another way to feed the less fortunate is through the Union Gospel Mission. At their locations, they feed meals to the hungry, give safe shelter, medical and dental care and incorporate the Gospel into everything that they do. Volunteers also help with sorting the donations that come in. The Union Gospel Mission has shelters for the homeless and those who are battling addiction, abuse and poverty. The Union Gospel Mission’s goal is to “encourage each person to value themselves as God values them, to see the gifts they have to offer the world and to help them seek out a bright future as a full contributing member of our community.”

If you are interested in helping elderly people, you can volunteer at a nursing home. There are many nursing homes, but at Episcopal Homes in particular, volunteers play BINGO, trivia and form reading groups. If that doesn’t sound fun and you are good with computers, you can teach them new skills or even how to use a computer. This nursing home values the warmth, joy and revealing of personality that they see form because of their volunteers.

Helping teens your age may interest you more than elderly people so Angel Tree has you covered. They are an organization that gives the children and families of prisoners the gift of Christ. Churches and volunteers buy gifts for the children and Angel Tree delivers them. This lets the child feel loved even though their parent can be with them.You can help by giving a child the gift of Christ and Christmas.

The key to making volunteering interesting is to do something that you have a passion for.

Anderson says, “It should be something that is fun and enjoyable and that we walk away learning from.”

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