90-year-old Ruth Tuffin volunteers three days a week and has done so for the past six years. She says it is the best three days of her week. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Beat the rush: Give the gift of time to the community this holiday season

Volunteer Victoria offers tips for meaningful experiences

Anyone looking to volunteer in the community this holiday season may want to start planning early.

Lisa Mort-Putland, executive director of Volunteer Victoria, says the organization usually gets a call on Christmas Day from someone who wants to volunteer later that day and with no staff working that day, the call goes unanswered.

She says planning ahead is key when it comes to service work during the holidays. There are vetting processes in place that take time to keep in mind, and a number of Christmas specific services, such as Santas Anonymous, do most of their work starting in August and finishing up by the end of November.

For those wanting to go visit senior centres or care homes, Mort-Putland stresses the importance of calling ahead to make sure they can receive you in the facility.

READ ALSO: Help Cedar Hill Middle School students make a difference in Guatemala this Christmas

She recommends getting involved with local community centres that serve some kind of holiday meal, as well as dropping off food or clothing — specifically socks, underwear and rain gear — at local shelters.

Grant McKenzie, with Our Place, says the shelter goes through approximately 100 pairs of socks each day and with wet weather expected that number is bound to go up. Other items Our Place looks for during the holiday season include men’s clothing and shoes, blankets, travel-size toiletries and feminine hygiene products.

McKenzie says that while a number of volunteer opportunities for serving family members meals fill up quickly thanks to local politicians and media personalities, there are still days that need to be filled such as Christmas and Boxing Day.

READ ALSO: Avoid crowds, support a good cause and start your holiday shopping with Night of Lights event

“When people come into the building … and they’re interacting with the family members, one-on-one, it completely changes people’s perceptions,” he says. “Now they see the family members as real human beings, as their neighbours who just happen to be living on the streets or in low income housing.”

Our Place is a adult only building, so it’s harder for families with young children to volunteer there but some exceptions are made for people under the age of 19 if they’re supervised by an adult. McKenzie says it’s best to use the ‘Volunteer’ tab on the Our Place website to find current opportunities.

Mort-Putland recommends Soap for Hope for those looking for a family friendly volunteering experience. Soap for Hope takes unused hygiene products from hotels, cleans and repackages them and then provides the toiletries to hundreds of locations across Vancouver Island. “It’s a lovely story, it’s a safe place for kids to be involved and it’s very hands on so there’s a sense of purpose,” she says.

For those looking for smaller ways to give back to their communities this year, Mort-Putland recommends doing small things as a family that make a difference, such as visiting a neighbour who doesn’t have a lot of family near by, picking up litter, putting together a care package and delivering it, or call Volunteer Victoria at 250-386-2269 for a little more direction.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Judge’s decision set for January in dangerous driving trial for crash that left Saanich girl unresponsive

Tenessa Nikirk is charged with one count of dangerous driving after Leila Bui was struck in 2017

Preliminary inquiry ahead for man who fled Canada prior to double attempted murder trial

VicPD returned fugitive Sebastien Normandin, 49, to Canada earlier this year

Victoria residents divided over changing school name due to its racist history

50 per cent of survey respondents favour changing name of George Jay Elementary

Fireballs fall Friday as brightest meteor shower of the year fills the skies

Geminid meteor shower features colourful, brighter, longer shooting stars

North Saanich Fire Department wins national Movember challenge

Team raises more than urban Edmonton, Toronto firefighters

Anti-money laundering agency warns casinos to watch gamers playing with bank drafts

Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as Fintrac, issues operational alert

‘Jurassic World 3’ will film in Metro Vancouver under working title ‘Arcadia’

Filming is set to take place between Feb. 24 and March 6, 2020

Strata rental bans escape B.C. speculation tax through 2021, Carole James says

Vacant home tax won’t apply to cabins accessible only by water

WFP the Grinch who stole Christmas

It makes me really sad that you don’t understand the labour relations side of the business.

China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians detained for one year

The two Canadians’ detention is largely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei exec

B.C. seaplane company set to test the first commercial electronic plane

The plane is powered by a 750 horsepower electric motor

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Most Read