As finals quickly approach and the semester starts to wind down, many of you are heading home for the holiday season. Let us be one of the first to tell you congratulations for making it through the semester, and we're excited to see you again in the spring! Our work doesn't stop just because classes do, though, and we're asking our university community to leave an impact wherever you are this holiday break.
Whether you're crafting a heartfelt holiday card, bundling up care packages, or simply sharing your time with others, we're excited to provide some general tips, tools, and resources for you to use! Read ahead to discover how you and your fellow students can spread the festive cheer and make a truly meaningful impact in this season of giving. Let's turn goodwill into good deeds and celebrate the power of our WVU community united in service!
Not everyone will be celebrating this holiday season; if you or someone you know is in need of mental or emotional health counseling, please contact the WVU Carruth Center at 304-293-4431; after hours, call 304-293-4431 and press 1.
What are the benefits of volunteering over the holidays?
- Gain Real-World Experience
- During this time of the year there are a lot of opportunities for you to develop your communication, leadership, time-management, and teamwork skills. These and other in-demand soft skills are essential for professional and life settings.
- Expand Your Network
- You won't be the only one volunteering, no matter where you go! Service opportunities-- especially those around the holidays-- connect you with other individuals in the community from nonprofits, businesses, and other various organizations. Take this time to learn your neighbors, fellow students, and potential employers!
- Building Your Resume
- Per the Corporation for National and Community Service, candidates have a 27% better chance of employment if they include volunteer experience on their resume. 1 On top of that, 81% of employers felt that volunteering should be considered in a job application, and 76% noted that volunteerism makes a candidate more desirable. 2
- Civic Responsibility: It's the Right Thing to Do
- Did you know that the U.S. Constitution charges all American citizens with civic responsibility? Per the Constitution, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States." This is the blueprint of our democracy, and it is our responsibility to uphold this sanction.
Making the Most of Your Holiday Volunteering: Tips for Success!
- Homemade Over Store-Bought
- Add a personal touch to your donations by crafting them yourself; a homemade card or knitted scarf carries the warmth of your effort and really makes a difference! In nearly all cases it is also cheaper this way.
- Match Your Skills to the Cause
Identify your strengths and find volunteer opportunities that benefit from your specific talents, be it organizing events, cooking, or teaching. Not sure where to start? Reach out to our team for suggestions! You can reach us at CCE@mail.wvu.edu
- Understand Commitment Levels
- Reflect on how much time you can realistically dedicate to volunteering this holiday season to ensure it’s a rewarding experience without overwhelming you.
- The Power of Group Volunteering
- Amplify your impact by teaming up with friends, classmates, or organizations—group efforts can make a big difference and create shared memories.
- Respect People and Places
- Approach every volunteer opportunity with sensitivity and respect for local customs, traditions, and the environment you’re engaging with. The holidays can be especially difficult for some folks, so being aware and empathetic during this time is even more important.
- Budgeting: Is it needed?
- Plan and prepare if your chosen volunteer activity has associated costs, or seek out opportunities that require more time than money. While donating to causes is a great way to support the community, and we definitely encourage you to donate where and what you can, find something you can do with your hands! Many organizations need extra folks to help pass supplies out, organize in preparation, and more.
- Document the Journey
- Keep a record of your volunteering experiences through photos, journaling, or social media to inspire others and reflect on the impact you’ve made.
Quick & Easy Volunteering Ideas for You and Your Group
- Create a Donation Station
Decorate a collection station and use it to collect non-perishable food items, warm clothes, or toys. Place it in a common area and invite others to contribute. This idea is especially good for student organizations wanting to participate as a group!
*If doing a donation station, please connect with a local organization first to make sure you're collecting the right items! They don't need 300 cans of green beans...
- Party Heart-y!
- Turn your holiday party into a charitable event by asking guests to bring canned goods, clothes, or educational supplies for donation to a local organization! Similar to the Donation Station idea, it's a good idea to check and see which items are needed first! Greek Organizations: Consider allowing donated goods as an "entry" instead of payment!
- Shoebox Projects
- Pack shoeboxes with essentials like toiletries, small toys, or school supplies for children in need or for soldiers overseas. There are many organizations that do this or something similar; make sure to follow their instructions!
- Neighborhood Clean-Up
- Organize a group to help clean up local parks, streets, or beaches. It’s a great way to get fresh air and make an immediate environmental impact! Want some assistance with this? The Morgantown City Ambassadors are a great start: Reach out to them!
- Letters of Kindness
- A piece of paper, a pen/pencil, and maybe a sticker: That's all your need! Write heartfelt letters to service members, healthcare workers, or seniors who might be spending the holidays alone. Ruby Memorial Hospital makes it even easier with their E-Card program!
- In with the New... Out with the
- Some folks get new items that replace their previous items for the holidays; such as new styles of clothing, decorations, and gadgets. This doesn't mean what you had is useless! Look for ways to donate stuff you're no longer using, or gifts you receive that you won't end up using.