Holiday volunteer opportunities in the Chattahoochee Valley

spauff@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 4, 2011 

’Tis the season to give back.

There are numerous organizations around the Chattahoochee Valley where you can volunteer and many of them have special programs just for the holidays.

Maj. Henry Hunter at the Salvation Army said the organization also usually has more volunteers over the holidays.

“We usually have more than normal,” he said. “It’s that time of the season when people think about giving back.”

Looking for ways to help out? Here are some organizations looking for volunteers over the holiday season:

Open Door Community House: This organization helps out low-income individuals and families throughout the year with projects such as a clothing bank, children and youth programs and a showering program for the homeless. During the holiday season, they also open a “toy shop,” where low-income families can come to find Christmas gifts.

Kim Jenkins, the executive director, said Open Door needs volunteers to help do inventory and sort clothes and toys in the shop, as well as to help with distribution.

Jenkins said Open Door takes donations through December 16 and sets up the “toy shop” during the second week of December. Distribution week, when families get the clothes and toys, is December 19 through the 22. Teens are welcome to volunteer, but anyone under 18 must have an adult with them to supervise.

Volunteers are usually needed during the week, but how long you want to volunteer is up to you.

“You can do as little or as much as you would like to do,” Jenkins said. She recommended volunteers decide what kind of volunteer work they’d like to do and how much time they have to offer before signing up.

“First of all, look at what kind of time commitment, where you are comfortable, what you’re passionate about,” she said. “A lot of people are not sure about working with the homeless, but once they do they love it,” Jenkins said.

To volunteer, call Open Door at 706-323-5518.

Salvation Army: This Christian non-profit offers a variety of opportunities to help out over the holidays.

Volunteers can sign up to help out with the “toy shop,” organizing and distributing gifts for families, serve meals during the holidays, or to be a kettle worker, ringing a bell and collecting donations for the Salvation Army.

“It’s what you can do, what’s in your heart, what you want to do. What you think you would enjoy doing,” said Vickie Jones, who works in human resources and organizes many of the volunteering opportunities.

Kettle workers stand in various places around town collecting donations for Christian social services, Monday through Saturday, from November 19 until Christmas Eve.

“Some people like to stand out and ring the bell. Other people want to do it anonymously,” she said.

For those who would like to remain anonymous in their giving, Jones suggested picking up a tag off of one of the organization’s Angel Trees, located in Peachtree Mall, Starbucks and Chill Yogurt Cafe. Each tag has a suggested gift for a child. You can pick up a tag and buy the gifts now through December 12. You can drop gifts off at Peachtree Mall or at the Salvation Army on Warm Springs Road.

Jones said volunteers can contribute as little as an hour to volunteering and that it doesn’t take any special skills.

“Do whatever you’re comfortable with. It just takes someone with a big heart who wants to give to go in there and do it,” she said.

To volunteer, call the local Salvation Army office at 706-561-9026.

Valley Rescue Mission: Joshua McQuien, Valley Rescue Mission’s development director, said volunteers are needed to help out with a toy giveaway for children and to distribute meals to needy families and individuals on Christmas Day.

The toy giveaway runs Dec. 5 through 16. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. during the week, McQuien said volunteers can help families shop for Christmas gifts.

On Christmas Day, McQuien said they are looking for individuals to deliver meals prepared at the rescue mission. Volunteers can choose to deliver just one meal or deliver meals to multiple homes. Don’t worry about getting lost -- they’ll give you directions to every home on your route, McQuien said.

McQuien recommended looking at your likes and dislikes before choosing a volunteer opportunity, but don’t be afraid to try something new.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to jump right in and get out of your comfort zone,” he said.

If you’re interested in volunteering, call Valley Rescue Mission at 706-322-8267.

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