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7 Places To Volunteer On Christmas Day To Help Spread Some Holiday Joy

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The holidays are synonymous with big meals, presents, and spending time with those you love. Sadly, not everyone has the means or ability to participate in those traditions, but there are a variety of places to volunteer on Christmas day that will allow you to help spread the cheer to those people. Whether its patients in hospitals, struggling families, or senior citizens who could use a smile, there are a lot of opportunities for you to bring the warmth of the holiday to those who need it.

Even if your Christmas day is packed full with family gatherings, you can still make a big impact with a tight schedule. Popping by your local fire or police station with a tray of food (or cookies!) will bring a smile to those who are serving your community instead of celebrating with their own families. The same is true for doctors and nurses in nearby hospitals who are spending their day saving lives.

Every little bit of holiday spirit helps, but if you have a little more time on your hands on Christmas, consider volunteering somewhere nearby where you can actually visit with people who may be alone or who couldn't afford a big family dinner. If you're not sure where to look, here's a list of seven spots to check out in your community where your time can make a big impact on Christmas day.

1. Your Local VA Hospital Or Army Base

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The men and women who serve, or have served, our country don't always get to spend Christmas with the people they love. If you live near an Army base, contact them to see if they're taking volunteers for Christmas dinner. Or, if you have a nearby VA hospital, offer to come visit with patients (especially those whose families may not be close by) and spread some joy.

2. Rescue Missions

All around your community are probably homeless shelters and soup kitchens who are planning to accommodate a lot of families this Christmas. Get in touch with these facilities to find out if they need any help on the holiday. Whether you are preparing food, setting up beds, or cleaning up after dinner, your presence will be appreciated.

3. Meals On Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a nationwide organization that delivers weekday lunches to people who can't leave their homes due to disability or age. There are numerous chapters across the country that vary by city or county, some of which may be delivering meals on Christmas day. Contact your local chapter to find out if they are delivering that day, and if they are taking volunteers.

4. Senior Living Centers

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Senior living centers are open 24/7, and many residents don't get to leave for the holidays. Even if they have family that visits them for the day, there will likely be a lot of hours where they are by themselves. You can help brighten their Christmas by simply showing up and chatting with them. Just be sure to call the center before you show up, because they may have systems in place for volunteers.

5. A Nearby Children's Hospital

Families with chronically ill kids will have it tough at Christmas — especially if they have multiple children they need to be there for. Help lighten their burden, and cheer up some little patients, by volunteering at a children's hospital on Christmas day. The hospital will likely have policies in place for volunteers which means you may not get to play Santa for the day, but if you taking over the job of delivering food allows a regular employee to spend time with a patient they know, you're still making a difference.

6. Food Banks

Chances are good you have a community food bank (either through the city or a non-profit organization) that will be open on Christmas day. Adults struggling with food insecurity depend on these food banks to feed themselves and their kids, so it's important they have access to them every day, including Christmas. Contact your local food bank to see if they are short staffed and could use some volunteers for the holiday.

7. Local Ronald McDonald House

Many children's hospitals have Ronald McDonald houses associated with them that allow patients' parents and siblings to have a place to stay for free. All year long, these houses provide home-cooked meals, private rooms, and kids play areas for families with a sick child. Each chapter of the national organization relies on volunteers and donations, so by offering to volunteer on Christmas day, you may be covering a shift for a regular volunteer which will allow them to spend time with their own family and you'll be helping out people who may otherwise not be so cheery.

There are so many ways for you to help someone who is lonely or in need on Christmas day, all it takes is a few calls to find out what organization(s) need volunteers the most.