The holiday season is in full swing. For many of us, it’s a time to get together with friends and family to celebrate a good year. For some, however, it’s just another very cold month without the proper amenities. There are plenty of organizations here in Oklahoma that work hard to help those in need during the holidays and year-round, and most of them are looking for volunteers as often as they can get them.
“Meals on Wheels of Norman is a great place to volunteer during the holiday season,” says Summer McGuire, the organization’s associate director of fundraising and donor development. “Volunteers can help deliver shelf-stable holiday meals to clients in the Norman community.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters – which has Oklahoma locations in Bartlesville, Norman, OKC, Shawnee, Stillwater and Tulsa – also needs help this time of year.
“We have approximately 350 children enrolled in our program waiting to be matched with their Big Brother or Big Sister,” says Cat Miller, the organization’s director of marketing and communications. “The most important factor for a child to develop resiliency is having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult. Mentorship is the best gift you can give a child this holiday season. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma needs volunteer mentors to help ignite the potential in vulnerable Oklahoma youth.”
Besides your time, places like these frequently need donations. Money is, of course, appreciated, but there are often other types of donations people can provide.
For example, OU Health needs “patient experience items and clothing,” says Jonie Welle, director of volunteer services at the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. Things like crossword puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, sweatpants, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and combs are all great items to donate.
“Books have to be new,” she says. “Due to infection control, we cannot use books that have been circulated.”
Meanwhile, Meals on Wheels can always use blankets and holiday cards.
“Our clients also love handmade pictures from kids,” says McGuire.
Spreading cheer during the winter months is a top priority for these organizations. For some, the joy of the holidays is often unseen due to financial, family, or other circumstances out of their control.
“Call Meals on Wheels of Norman to volunteer,” says McGuire. “It’s easy and a fun way to give back to our often forgotten portion of the community.”
Contact Deana Nelson at 405-321-7272 for opportunities.
The younger and less fortunate population in Oklahoma always needs a helping hand. To apply as a BBBSOK volunteer, go to bigoklahoma.org.
As for the Children’s Hospital, having blankets for everyone right before Christmas is always the goal, which is why the blanket drive is a major priority.
“This has made such an impact on our patients in the past; our volunteer department wants to keep this an annual event,” says Welle. “We have many patients from the vulnerable population, and a warm blanket to take home may be the only Christmas cheer they have.”