2017 stats: 19 submissions
2017 Shared Stories
Handing out Holiday Cards
Starting this year, my best friend started this thing were she had young children make holiday cards. We went into Nursing homes, spent time with them, handed out deserts and handed out these cards to make the elderly happy. This warmed my heart because the look on their face was great, and made me feel great about spending time with them.
When the holiday season rolls around, my friends and I get together and we make cards for people at a nursing home.
I volunteer as a mentor for the Little Wings Adaptive Ballet and guide special needs children through the Nutcracker. We rehearse weekly all fall and perform in December. It is a really great experience.
Especially during the holiday season, I like to volunteer at my local soup kitchen. I love going into my community and serving others.
Every holiday season, my family creates a gift for a child that is not able to get one because of their living circumstances. This is important to us because we know that we are bringing joy to someone's life.
Volunteering at the Senior Center
For the past 3 years, my cousins and I go to a senior center in Bridgeport around our winter break. While there, we serve dinner, pour drinks, and help the staff with cleanup. We always have a great time having enriching conversations with the seniors there, whether it be about women's rights or life during the Great Depression. My cousins and I really consider the time that we volunteer at the senior center as a time for laughs, smiles, and a way to relieve stress from school. It's always something we look forwards to doing!
Family Volunteering Traditions
Every year what my family and I try to do is complete a certain number of volunteer hours together, either help at the food bank or run a couple dinner nights at the homeless shelter. We normally get together with family friends and host a dinner for the homeless, we all bring different things to create meals to give out on cold winter nights. Going to the food bank is also a nicer thing because we can include my younger brothers more by having them help out with the organizing of the food. My favorite thing to do on the side with my mom is doing something for the senior citizens we know and spend an afternoon with them, whether it be helping them clean out things in their house or simply play board games and listen to music with them. Overall the holidays are the time my family and I make a better effort to help others around the community because we are reminded a little bit more about how lucky we all are.
Toys for Tots
Since I've been old enough to remember my parents have started something that I plan to keep doing with my kids. Along with the gifts we get each other, we also buy one gift for Toys for Tots. They started this to show me that giving back to kids in need is as important as getting a gift for myself and my loved ones.
It wasn’t every holiday but often we would donate time to the soup kitchen to help feed those in need. It’s hard to see others who struggle just to eat but reminded my family and I how fortunate we were even though we would be considered poor.
2016 Shared Stories
One of my favorite memories of giving during the holidays is from grade school. One year, my teachers coordinated a gift drive, so that my classmates and I could provide a child in need with a gift for the holidays. The thought of another child receiving a gift he or she may not expect warmed my heart. This early lesson in the power of giving instilled in me a lifelong passion for helping others!
Tauck Employees Give Back with Thanks
For the past several years Tauck employees have participated in a Thanksgiving volunteer tradition with Person to Person in Norwalk. Each year our employees meet at P2P to help hand out turkeys and Thanksgiving meal fixings to hundreds of families in need. It is an event that Tauck employees look forward to. It's a great time to stop the busy routine of our work lives and realize what we are all thankful for and to help those less fortunate so that they too have something for which to be thankful. Our employees truly look forward to this event and always return with stories of how wonderful volunteering at this event makes them feel.
Toys for Kids in Need
For many, many years now, I've been donating to Toys for Tots. Each year, I select a boy toy and a girl toy. Sometimes my selection is random, and other times I go where I can select a card from a tree with specifics on the child's age and preferences. Either way, I make the process fun, chatting with other shoppers to share in the holiday spirit. I love the idea of kids who are less fortunate being able to enjoy Christmas morning the way I did growing up with my family. It's so rewarding to play even a small part in helping these children enjoy that magical experience.
Cup o' Ramen
When I was younger my mother and I would do a run to Costco and buy the ramen cup 'o Noodle carton in the hundreds. on our way to church, we would add hot water to the soup and hand them out to the men at the shelter on Atlantic avenue (in Brooklyn) with a bottle of water. It seemed like sucha small thing, handing out cup o' noodles, but, from my perspective, it meant soemhting to have something pipping hot in your hands and in your stomach on a cold NYC day.
Toys for Tots
Growing up I remember the joy of opening presents on Christmas Day and the feeling of excitement at not knowing what our parents might get. Donating to Toys for Tots was always one way to ensure other kids would have the same opportunity during the Holiday season. From books, to puzzles or even stuffed animals, it was important to help to spread the holiday spirit.
Cristina's Cards/Cookies/Cocoa + Ornament Exchange
This upcoming holiday season will be the fourth consecutive year I have been hosting a holiday card making party. I was recognized by Volunteer Square for this tradition a few weeks ago, but when I saw this opportunity to give back with service hours, I decided to share my tradition again. My friends and I make hundreds of greeting cards to send to elderly people residing in nursing homes. So far, I have sent over seven hundred cards and plan to grow the project every year. We write out heartfelt messages, decorate cheery envelopes, and last year began to add small gifts to the cards, such as paper snowflakes or small craft ornaments. While working, we also enjoy lots of homemade cookies and drink hot cocoa to elevate the festive spirit. The event is always fun, and while working together, we accomplish so much. I was inspired to begin this project when my great-grandmother was placed in a nursing home at ninety-eight years old. While visiting her, it was so upsetting to see the countless other lonely residents. Especially around the holiday season, these fragile people often do not have any visitors. Although it does not seem like much to us, a simple card can brighten someone's day.
Every year around Christmas time, me and my family go to church and pick up a "star" off of the tree that they have. Each star has an age group and a gender, and the purpose is to buy a gift for that person and return it back to the tree. We have done this every year for as long as I can remember, and it always makes us feel good that we could help someone have a better Christmas.
Holy Apostle's Soup Kitchen
I asked to volunteer at the Soup Kitchen through my church in Manhattan ( St, Thomas Eposcopal Church ) and reported for duty at the Holy Apostle''s Soup Kitchen on Thanksgiving day. I was on the serving line with about 12 to 15 people. The serving was continuous for about 3 hours or 3 1/2 hours that afternoon. There were many more volunteers in the dining room in the church. The homeless people reacted with much appreciation for a grand dinner. Many wanted a second helping which we had plenty of. We averaged about close to 2,000 people for Thanksgiving lunch. I volunteered for Thanksgiving the next year also with approximately the same number of homeless and I also did lunch on Christmas day.
At St. Thomas Church we have a Saturday Soup Kitchen where I and about 25 other members of the church prepare lunch bags for the homeless outside on the sidewalks of Manhattan generally in the area of St. Thomas. We packed a lunch bag consisting one sandwich a cup of soup and 3 assorted cookies. After everything is packed, we then went out on the streets and passed out the lunch bags to people that we found to be homeless.
Each year I take my daughters to pick out gifts for people in need. This year we selected an 88 year old senior in need of basic necessities. The girls are excited to make her cards to include with the gift.
My artist Mom volunteered at my school, starting a Christmas fair craft booth to raise money for library books. Summers through Thanksgivings we worked together making treasures to sell - participation was mandatory & standards high (these are Gifts!) eventually becoming a shared labor of love.
Mom felt kids should be able to shop regardless of parental income, pricing items at 5 cents and selling to children-only. The last hour prices were raised (these are Treasures!) and adults welcomed. Many talented and generous parents volunteered their time and skills. The wares, varied and beautiful, always sold out. Our annual creations also included gifts for neighbors, senior home residents, kids in hospital – delivered with home made wreaths & cookies the week before Christmas.
From reluctant crafter-delivery girl to wholehearted adult volunteer, my holiday season is forever connected to these early lessons: humble gifts made with love are treasures, and sharing your time creates joyous abundance and a life enriched.