As much as we love to “let it snow,” we've all felt the sting of a cold winter day. Helping others escape the chill can be an energizing experience and a great way to stretch the holiday spirit into spring. Here are a few ways to help warm a few hearts and stay active as a winter volunteer.
Give them shelter. Keep them warm.
Organizations like the Mississippi Gulf Coast Salvation Army operate cold weather shelters in communities around the country, and that means great opportunities to volunteer. You can find a local shelter and research opportunities by state. FEMA can also help you find a warming station or shelter in which to volunteer. Many are set up immediately before impending storms, at libraries, police stations, senior centers and local schools. Another way to find shelters is through FEMA’s text message program. Just text SHELTER and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).
When it’s cold outside, think “inside.”
A heartfelt thank you can warm hearts around the globe when you draft a letter to veterans through Operation Gratitude. They even include a guide to make letter writing a snap. Got a knack for knitting? Put those needles to good use and donate a blanket or two to Project Linus in support of helping children in need. Wool Works can help you meet local knitting needs with a site that lets you scroll and search by state. For an even simpler way to warm the body and soul, cook up a double batch of seasonal soup and deliver it to a neighbor or family friend.
Turn some frowns upside-down.
Too little sun, especially in winter, can sap our energy and reduce our mood. If you or someone you know suffers from “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD, there are several ways to help mitigate the effects. Start by bringing more light into the office, and throughout the home. You can clear tree branches, open up blinds, and sit closer to windows for more of the day. Then get outside, grab a friend and find a trail to take a walk, a hike or a ride on a bike. Want to lift the spirits of local youth? Team up with the United Way and help kids “shake off the winter blah’s”. You can also help homebound adults beat the winter blues by reading and chatting as a telephone volunteer. And for a simple way to help a local parent in need, offer to babysit for their students on winter break.
For more ideas to help keep seasonal sprits bright, check out this simple search and use keyword “winter.”