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Great Places for Volunteering at Christmas. Be a Volunteer

Eileen loves to travel as much as possible both at home in the U.K. and abroad with local places of interest high on her to visit list.

Father Christmas visits the hospital

Father Christmas visits the hospital

Another way to give at Christmas

At Christmas many of us overspend including on presents to give to friends, colleagues and loved ones but what about giving your time to help others?

For those readers who would like to give something back to their community and volunteer to help those in need at Christmas there are many places where your help would be greatly appreciated.

This article has some general ideas for volunteering during the Christmas period and on Christmas Day but research online and locally for local options.

In the run up to Christmas

it takes a very special person to volunteer Christmas Day, though many of us could spare an odd hour or two to help others If we tried.

However, in the run up to Christmas there are also many ways you can help others.

  • Volunteer to help out at a local food-bank. You never know this could lead to a year round commitment. Food-banks in England are not open over the Christmas period so check the best time to donate your time or groceries
  • Donate goods or cash to a local food-bank. Local food-banks often run short of basics such as long-life milk so it is a good idea to ask what they need. But they will gratefully accept most donations. Most do not accept alcohol. Remember some people who use food-banks have no cooking facilities and in some cases no gas or electricity. Consider giving instant soups, pot noodles, tins of fish such as tuna and sardines, biscuits, crackers, tea and coffee, bottle drinks, toiletries including sanitary wear and soap. The first time we donated I thought hard about what would be nutritious and easy to cook not even considering that some people may only have access to an electric kettle and others even less
  • We donate to the local food-bank by visiting it but you can leave goods as a donation at various supermarkets. Look out for the donation bins
  • Clear out your unwanted goods and clothes to make way for Christmas gifts. Donate them to a charity or charity shop or sell on and donate the money to a worthy cause
  • Help genuine homeless people living on the streets. It is a tragedy that some people are left sleeping in the cold on our streets anytime of year but especially over Christmas. Some rough sleepers are happy just to receive a smile from you and a “how are you doing“but you could buy cheap gloves, socks and hats and give them out to rough sleepers

A twinkling Christmas Tree looks great but the real meaning of Christmas is much more


The real meaning of Christmas

Christmas means many things to many people but do you really believe that the real meaning of Christmas is spending lots of money, overeating, getting drunk, having lots of expensive presents under a huge overly decorated Christmas Tree and dressing up to go to as many parties as possible?

You may enjoy all or some of the above but the Christmas story surely is more philanthropic?

On the big day itself

Hospital wards

Your local hospital will probably be glad of some help at Christmas. Volunteers sometimes help with serving food, clearing the dishes, answering the phones and more.

The children’s wards of hospitals are usually inundated with offers of help but what about helping on wards that have elderly people as patients?

Older people often have few living relatives and friends and are sometimes abandoned at Christmas by what family they do have.

Contact your local hospital and see how you can help.

In these days of high incidence of crime volunteers will need to be vetted but any help will be greatly appreciated.

You could simply offer some time, company and conversation or perhaps take some treats to the ward.

Such gifts would need to be checked as safe of course. Older patients in hospital may be bored silly at Christmas and most of them would probably love some extra visitors. Check out your local retirement and nursing homes too.

Homeless shelters

Homeless shelters quite simply offer a person life at Christmas. For those that live on the streets winter is a cruel season and it an also be deadly.

A homeless shelter may offer warmth, food and perhaps even a bed. Volunteers help serve food, clear up and so much more. On Christmas Day volunteers will keep such shelters manned.

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Animal Shelters

At Christmas time animal shelters are overflowing with unwanted and abandoned pets. The staff who work tirelessly at such rescue centres also have families and friends who they want to share a little time with at Christmas. Volunteers can help the staff enjoy a break and may also benefit the animals. Volunteers walk dogs, feed the animals, help to groom the animals, bathe them and more.

Volunteering in your neighbourhood

There are many ways that you can help others by volunteering your services in your local neighbourhood-

  • Try offering to be the driver. You may have elderly or infirm neighbours who want to visit a relative in hospital or simply go to church. With no public transport on Christmas Day your offer could be a much appreciated
  • Invite an extra guest for Christmas dinner. If you have a lonely neighbour who you know will be spending Christmas alone invite them to join you and your family for Christmas dinner. If they want to stay home offer to send over a serving of the Christmas dinner you have made
  • Volunteer to clear any icy paths for those neighbours who are less able.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army help many people around the World. They are sure to be grateful, of any help that you can offer and may be able to utilize you in various ways.


Volunteering to bring some good, old-fashioned Christmas cheer to others on Christmas Day is a great idea.

When you look at being a volunteer you will find that there are so many ways you can help someone experience the real meaning of Christmas and along the way you may discover the real you.

Be a Volunteer

What about you?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Ethel Smith


Stephanie Brownell on December 08, 2018:

We have 5 people who would like to volunteer on Christmas Day

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 01, 2018:

I hope this hub has imspired you to research local opportunities and volunteer. Please pop back and share your experiences

Linda Bryant on November 25, 2018:

I would love to volunteer Christmas Day.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on November 15, 2018:

Penelope perhaps you will find useful i for ation for your area via this link that is local to you

Penelope on November 10, 2018:

East sussex area on December 17, 2017:

Volunteering opportunities in or near Jupiter florida

Lin McLean on November 27, 2017:

My Son and I would love to help in a homeless shelter on Xmas Day, we are in Bromsgrove Worcs

Eva Burton on October 08, 2017:

I would like to volunteer on Christmas Day.

Karen Reyes on December 16, 2016:

My grandson & I would like to give back to the community by volunteering somewhere on Christmas.Is it even going to be possible with such short notice? Any help would be greatly appreciated..GOD BLESS & MERRY CHRISTMAS

Nonie Sadler on December 08, 2012:

I'd like to volunteer Christmas Day. Any help needed?

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 22, 2011:

I see where you are coming from but the Salvation Army does help plenty of down and out people. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view

mjpiatelli on December 18, 2011:

Thanks for the suggestions. I hope to do some volunteering on xmas day but The Salvation Army is not a possibility for me. As a charitable orgination, The Salvation Army is selective in who they help. They have a strict policy to not help/support/reach out to any individuals who self-identify as gay/lesbian/bi-sexual or transgender - and in the United States - an estimated 4 million people are shut out by them. I can not support any organization which doesn't support all of humanity.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 06, 2011:

Sarah I am a great believer these days in googling everything. You could also ring a couple of your local charities. Good luck with your search

sarah h on December 04, 2011:

Hi. I would love to spend some time with the homeless on christmas morning but am stuggling to find how or where in my area....Any ideas on how i could find out?

Baiba on September 26, 2011:

hello,i would love to give a helping hand on xmas day with animals,but not sure where i can get info about it!or where i get application forms for it,i would be so thankfull if you could give me some advise...

thank you

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 22, 2009:

Thanks Habee :)Take care and have fun

Holle Abee from Georgia on December 21, 2009:

Great, wonderful, fantastic, awesome hub, my friend! I hope it nudges people into helping our fellow humans and creatures. Good job!

Bengali Bratisha from Italy on December 19, 2009:

Hi Ethel smith! It's true that it's a very cruel time for a lot of people and for others it can be a very tiresome or boring time - I hope people read your ideas - both sides will gain!

Lovely hub!

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 19, 2009:

Thanks hello. We tend to forget about those recently bereaved or depressed don't we?

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 19, 2009:

As much as I love Christmas but it can a cruel holiday to some people. Thank you for your hub.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 19, 2009:

Thanks Eileen and J McCoy. Yes most of us are far luckier than we realise.

J. McCoy from CA (originally) on December 19, 2009:

Thank you for the Hub! Great ideas!

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on December 18, 2009:

Ethel, As you say there are so many lonely people in this world just helping one is a start, but I am sure we can do better than that.

When you think about it humans are a little self centred we get so involved in our own problems we forget there are others worse off than us. Some are in dire circumstances. I appreciate the beauty of waking up each morning it is such a blessing at my age. Thanks

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