What are the biggest needs?

With the season of giving upon us, many people are searching for interesting charities that need their time and money.

But with so many organizations out there, how can the average person scan the volunteer and donation needs of them all?

The Holiday Volunteer and Donation Opportunities 2005 List does just that. More than 12 pages long, the List catalogues the specific needs of local charitable agencies. Updated on a daily basis as new needs form, the list is perfect for anyone looking to give a day – or even a few hours – of their time to those in need.

The List was compiled by the Volunteer Connection, a clearinghouse organization that links altruistic community members with local nonprofit and government agencies.

This time of year affords a lot of people flexibility with their schedules that they don’t allow themselves through the year, said Morgan Lipton, office manager of the Volunteer Connection. It’s a trend that the Volunteer Connection is catching on with – that many people are interested in volunteering for a one-time deal.

If you’re interested in setting an example for your own children, many organizations on the list welcome families to volunteer together. The Boulder County Elks, for example, embrace families and groups who are interested in delivering gift baskets on Dec. 17 to the elderly and homebound. Making decorations for Christmas trees in Longmont is ideal for scout groups, home school groups, or families and can even be done from home.

The 2005 List specifies any volunteer age minimum (usually 16, sometimes 18) or requirements (such as car ownership). Each listing begins by specifying where the service takes place (Longmont, Boulder, Niwot, etc.) and many opportunities allow shifts for as short as one hour (singing carols at Longmont’s Old Fashioned Holiday Event) or for as long as a volunteer is interested in staying.

So many people think they don’t have time to give because we’re so overscheduled, said Lipton. Then when they get into these organizations, they see how much they’re appreciated and how much fun they have, and many people start to make time (to continually volunteer).

The List doesn’t merely catalogue volunteer opportunities, either – it’s second half lists the specific donations different agencies are searching for. The Longmont Rotary Coat Drive, for example, is searching not only for winter coats but also sleeping bags, boots, hats, gloves and warm clothes. They list their donation centers, which span the area. Stand Up for Kids, anticipating the start of a new semester or quarter of school in January, is searching for spiral notebooks, pens, and colored construction paper.

The need for supplies is greater this season, says Lipton, because of recent natural disasters garnering national attention.

There are a number of organizations this holiday season that are in desperate need of basic supplies, said Lipton. Community members that usually support their local organizations have given nationally. I think the willingness (to donate) gets funneled much more toward national organizations such as the Red Cross.

In addition to the donations pouring in to aid Katrina victims – sometimes at the expense of the local cold and hungry – Lipton noted that many local organizations use their resources to help displaced evacuees in the local area, or to help charities with the same mission in disaster-ridden areas.

Stand Up for Kids sent surplus supplies to Houston (in the Katrina aftermath), said Lipton.

Regardless of annual trends in donations, the 2005 List is a stepping stone for prospective volunteers to embark on their giving. The Volunteer Connection also e-mails monthly bulletins listing volunteer and donation needs to interested people, and invites people to volunteer alongside the Volunteer Connection staff each month in Walking the Talk as they volunteer at a local agency.

Someone who is looking to volunteer may have no idea where to begin, said Lipton.

Comments are closed.