Q: I am looking for a place to volunteer on Christmas Day. I thought that maybe you would have some idea of where there are meals to be served in Westboro since Newport has closed and Donna’s will not be doing it.
A: Dear Marthe,
Thank you for your question! Volunteering is amazing. Volunteering helps people make new friends, build skills, and pick up some valuable career-related experience, but most importantly, it gives people an opportunity to directly impact their community.
Newport is switching gears this year. They are still giving away meals, but they’re doing it “Meals on Wheels” style. According to Moe Atallah, the plan is to feed 120 people, and volunteers will be delivering the meals on Christmas Day.
You might want to inquire at the Carleton Tavern. The Hintonburg Economic Development Committee has been hosting a free Christmas Day dinner for those in need at the Carleton Tavern for the past nine years. There are lots of different jobs that need to be done, but you’re not guaranteed a spot. The volunteer co-ordinator gives priority to last year’s volunteers, and contacts new volunteers once it is known how many slots need to be filled. Donations of food and gifts are also needed. It’s a great way to help out beforehand if you’re not able to make it in person. Send an email outlining your interests and availability to email@example.com. (There’s more information about this event on the Newswest website.)
There are other ways you can help this time of year too:
- There’s the Caring and Sharing Exchange. Last year they provided help to 750 people in Kitchissippi. Members of the community (like you!) can sign up to deliver Christmas directly to local individuals and families in need through a new sponsor-a-hamper program. Sponsors purchase supplies for a hamper, pack it themselves, and deliver it right to the family who requested help. It’s worth mentioning that last year the Caring and Sharing Exchange wasn’t able to provide hampers for everyone who requested one. For more information go to the Caring and Sharing Exchange’s website at CaringandSharing.ca, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Shepherds of Good Hope is also looking for donations for its Christmas Hamper Program. This program matches needy families with sponsors so that they can enjoy a Christmas dinner. A full Christmas hamper is $200, but you can chip in with your preferred amount.
Most agencies and charitable organizations prefer to have volunteers who can commit for longer periods of time, rather than just on the one day. Many organizations also require new volunteers to submit references and undergo a police records check. There may be training too, and this all takes time! I suggest you check out http://www.volunteerottawa.ca and see what kinds of opportunities are listed there.
Volunteering is truly the gift that keeps giving, all year round. And it’s powerful. Whenever you give your time, you get something good right back.
Thanks for your note!
What about you Kitchissippi? Marthe’s letter was about serving Christmas dinners but if you know of other organizations that need a helping hand at this time of year, please drop us a line and we’ll add it here!
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