As the holiday season approaches, our community shifts into full winter gear. The days have already gotten much shorter and the cold is setting in. For students, the excitement of an approaching two week break is promising. Many families are beginning to prepare for the holidays that are quickly approaching. While we all appreciate the joy that the holiday season brings, we can also find joy in giving back. This holiday season can be the perfect time for both kids and adults in our community to do just that.
This past summer, I experienced the joy of giving back first hand. As a volunteer at St. Francis Hospital, I spent many days volunteering during what could have been days I slept late and went to the beach. I began my shifts at 8 a.m. and was on call for the day. Transporting and discharging patients, helping get supplies to the nurses that needed it, helping direct patients and family members to the correct places, and providing meals were just a few of the tasks that filled my days at the hospital. While they may seem like mundane tasks, my days at the hospital brought me much joy. I was so satisfied knowing that my volunteering made a difference in the lives of others. Giving back to the community is something that even the youngest students can enjoy this holiday season.
We live in a community filled with great volunteer opportunities for all ages. While opportunities for young students are sometimes difficult to find, there are several local options available that directly and indirectly serve our larger Long Island community. You can also contact your school counselor for more ideas. I hope that students find as much joy in giving this holiday season as they do receiving. Below are a few options that students are welcome and encouraged to volunteer, whether that be one time, or on an ongoing basis.
Port Washington Parents’ Council Holiday Gift Drive
Even the youngest students in our district can participate with their families. Send gift cards in $25 denominations to your child’s school in an envelope marked “Outreach-Holiday Drive” to help local families in need this holiday season. Suggested gift cards include Visa/Amex, Amazon, Delux Taxi, Rite Aid, local supermarkets, Dunkin, Target, etc. If your family has the means to participate in this, it can be a great way to give back directly to our Port Washington community.
Holiday Cards for Pediatric Patients- Love 4 Lacey
Many children across LI have to spend their holiday season in a hospital bed. To help brighten this time of year for them, Love 4 Lacey collects cards to spread holiday cheer. Any age child or adult can participate. To get involved in this charity, make and decorate cards for pediatric hospital patients to brighten their days this holiday season. Share messages of hope and strength like, “You got this”, “Happy Holidays,” “Smile, you are so strong.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org for drop off information. Cards will be delivered to patients in various pediatric hospitals this holiday season. The deadline for this is Dec. 10.
Bake for the Residents at The Ronald McDonald House Long Island
The Little Hands Baking Program at the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park is open to students ages six to 16. Groups of up to 10 students and two parents can go to the house and bake in their kitchens to put out treats for the families staying there as their relative receives care at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center. Groups can spend up to two hours baking and putting goods out in the kitchen for residents to take. The smiles on the residents’ faces is heartwarming. Visit www.rmhcnym.org/baking-program for more details and to schedule your baking time online.
Volunteering at the Mary Brennan INN Soup Kitchen
Students 16 and up can inquire about volunteering at the INN in Hempstead. This is the largest soup kitchen on Long Island. Volunteer shifts last from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and include a variety of activities, including interacting with guests. Students ages 10 to 16 may volunteer from 2:30 to 4 p.m., when guests are not present, but this must be specially scheduled. For more information, refer to the website www.the-inn.org/volunteer or call 516-486-8506.
As the holiday season approaches, we should make it a goal of ours to give back to our community however we can. These four charities are great ways for students and children to give back this winter.