1 Peter 4:10 says: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (NIV)

We want to be putting our gifts to use all year long, but life gets busy and there isn’t always time to serve. Now that the holiday season is among us, this is one of the best times to volunteer your time (and talents, too).

Not sure where to find a place to volunteer? Start with resources within your community such as a nursing home, the Salvation Army, a homeless shelter, your local jail – inmates could use some love and joy this time of year, or a soup kitchen. And if you still need some ideas, check out the site Christian Volunteering at www.christianvolunteering.org

During the coronavirus that we are experiencing, you will need to amend how to do the volunteering. I want to share with you some ways it can be accomplished in “normal” times. Even with the restrictions we face, there are ways to assist through giving money, definitely prayers, and sending notes or greeting cards. This would help perk up someone who needs that input.

Let’s look at three popular volunteer ideas to get you started:

1. Visiting Elderly

One of the loneliest times of year for anyone, especially the elderly who have lost a loved one, are house-bound or living in a nursing home, is the holidays. So why not put a smile on their face this year? Head to a local nursing home to visit with the residents. You could spend a few minutes just chatting with them asking how their day is. Or read a Christmas book or some Bible verses with them. Do you have elderly neighbors? Mix up some extra batches of Christmas cookies or fudge and put together a little goody plate for them. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on their face, they just want some company!

2. Soup Kitchen

A soup kitchen is a place where the homeless or destitute can go for food. There are millions that go without food each day, a soup kitchen is just the beginning in helping feed the hungry. In larger cities/area they have actual soup kitchens, but in smaller areas it may not even be called a soup kitchen. Here in my small town, it’s a church basement that is used and it’s a free breakfast done daily. They are always looking for volunteers, and during the holidays families enjoy doing this. It’s a great learning experience for kids and teens to let them see how some people don’t even have access to necessities such as food every day without something like a soup kitchen.

3. Meals on Wheels

Did you know that millions of seniors rely on Meals on Wheels and tens of thousands more are on waiting lists across the country? (Source: Meals On Wheels America) That’s a pretty staggering statistic and just goes to show how important this service is. There are different ways you can help by volunteering with this service: help pack the meals, deliver the meals, and even drive to deliver meals. Want to volunteer for Meals On Wheels? Learn more at www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/americaletsdolunch

A few last thoughts. This one isn’t a volunteer opportunity in the sense you’ll be out in your community interacting with those around you, but it’s a way to help someone in need. You could reach out to a local church and ask about a family in need and “adopt” them for Christmas. You could also find your local food bank and donate; they can always use more canned goods, personal hygiene items, etc. But I recommend contacting them first to see what their needs at the time are.

Whatever you decide, the holiday season is the perfect time to serve others around you and a great opportunity for parents to teach their young children about the joy in serving and helping those less fortunate.

Dr. Michael Layne is pastor of FaithPoints For Living and director of Center For Redirection. He can be contacted at 812-503-2170 or http://www.faithpoints.net

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