Holiday Season Volunteering: How to Get Involved

Holiday Season Volunteering: How to Get Involved

Thomas Gravely (he/him), Staff Writer

Community service has been an incredibly popular way to participate in the community and look beyond yourself for generations. Particularly during the holidays, a time of giving, many are looking for ways they can help their community. Whether it be cleaning parks, volunteering at the food bank, or socializing animals at the Humane Society, the winter season is chock full of opportunities to contribute.

One very useful resource at Ida B. Wells is our Key Club, which meets in room 120 on Thursdays. Key Club generally holds short meetings where leaders go over upcoming service opportunities and students may register if they so choose. If you have to miss a meeting, it’s not a big deal because they send out the slideshow from every meeting on the club’s Remind @wbhskey62.

Key Club is a fantastic opportunity because it condenses a myriad of volunteer opportunities into one place and makes the sign-up process very easy. It’s also a great way to interact with other Wells students, or even other schools’ clubs volunteering at the same events. “Key Club’s a great resource because we’re able to organize things with other schools that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” said Hannah Lo, who has a leadership role in Key Club.

While Key Club is an excellent starting point for volunteering, there are lots of other resources online that you can use to connect yourself with service events. One particularly useful organization is Hands On Greater Portland, a nonprofit organization that connects volunteers all around the city.

Using their project calendar, you can sign up for a variety of service events that last a few hours and are done in a day. It’s a great tool if you have some free time but don’t want to commit to a weekly obligation or something that takes all day. Just make sure you qualify for the minimum age requirement for your event.

In-person volunteering isn’t the only thing the website is useful for. “You can also donate used stuff, or if there’s a gift you don’t think you’re gonna use you can always donate it,” said Sylvie Kressel, a junior at Wells and involved member of Key Club. If you don’t have time to volunteer and you don’t have gifts or used things to donate, you can also make a direct monetary donation to the organization to help fund the events they lead.

Another online resource that can connect you to community service opportunities is Portland Parks and Recreation. Similar to Hands On, you can find a detailed list of upcoming events on their website. As you might expect, these events are mostly outdoors, so while they’re plenty of fun, take the weather into account as you sign up for these.

Keep in mind that while Key Club, Hands On Greater Portland, and Portland Parks and Rec are all great resources, they’re far from the only ways to get connected with the Portland community. If you’re not finding any events that appeal to you, Multnomah County has a page listing numerous volunteer portals that can help you get connected.

But why volunteer in the first place? Many view community service as a miserable obligation often given as a punishment. As such, its value when it comes to community and relationship-building is often underrated. “It’s important to be involved with your community, but it’s also being able to get closer with people you wouldn’t typically spend time with,” said Lo. Even pulling ivy allows you to make new friends outside your typical social circle and build long-lasting connections.

Additionally, service is an important way to remind yourself of your privilege and help others that may not be as lucky. “The holiday time can be really happy for some people and not for others,” said Kressel. “Take a step back and think about what you have that you’re grateful for and how you can help other people be happy during the holiday season.” For example, on December 20, Key Club is doing a volunteer event at the Oregon Food Bank, which you can still sign up for if that appeals to you.

While based on the principle of giving, community service doesn’t just have to just be for other people. Volunteering is a great way to take a break from your normal obligations and dedicate your time to a cause that makes a difference. “Sometimes volunteering can be a service for yourself,” said Lo. “It’s a good way of keeping yourself sane when things are crazy.”

As we enter the holiday season, there’s no better time to contribute some energy and connect with your community in a meaningful way, and it’s easier than you may think. With all of the city and school’s resources at your fingertips, why not sign up to do some good during this holiday season?