1. The Forgotten Patient Christmas Project
The Utah Department of Human Services has sponsored The Forgotten Patient Christmas Project for over five decades. Every holiday season volunteers provide Christmas gifts to patients who are spending the holidays in the hospital. Volunteers also purchase a gift from a list that the patient provides. The gifts are wrapped and delivered in person to make the patient feel less lonely during a time of year that is typically spent with friends and family. In addition to individual volunteers, community groups from the area provide the patient with a Christmas stocking stuffed with candy and assorted personal care items.
2. Utah Food Bank
Utah Food Bank provides food to families throughout the state with the help of a network of partner agencies. People in each of Utah’s 29 counties receive food boxes which are especially appreciated during the holiday season. Individuals, groups, and families are encouraged to volunteer their time sorting donations as well as assembling boxes. Volunteers can also decorate the boxes which can include festive holiday designs to brighten the lives of recipients.
3. Candy Cane Corner
The Candy Cane Corner is a special holiday store that provides gifts to families in need. Individuals and families who already receive services from The Road Homes, YWCA Utah, or Volunteers of America, Utah can participate and select gifts from a holiday store set up specifically for them. Volunteers help out by sorting, wrapping, and displaying the gifts.
4. Symbii Home Health and Hospice
Hospice Care volunteers are always needed to provide care to those with terminal conditions. This is especially true during the holidays. Volunteering to assist caregivers and family members during this time of year is appreciated. Providing care and comfort to those with advanced illnesses eases the burden of patients and hospital staff as well as their families. Other volunteer opportunities include making cards and blankets for patients as well as providing clerical assistance as an intern. No medical background is needed to become a volunteer.
Meals-on-Wheels provides nutritious meals to seniors throughout Summit, Utah, and Wasatch counties. Volunteers can donate one hour of their time each week to deliver meals to homebound folks. Meals get delivered midday Monday through Friday and weekend meals are delivered on Thursday and Friday. This is an especially important service during the holidays when it is more difficult for people with no family members close by. Meals are low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sodium. Special diets can be accommodated.
6. Sub For Santa
The United Way of Utah County’s Sub for Santa program has partnered with schools and nonprofit organizations to provide gifts for kids in Utah County. Donations of gifts and money are appreciated but donations of time are needed as well. Volunteers can help sort and deliver gifts as well as pick up gifts from the organization’s Angel Tree locations. Gifts include toys, books, and warm clothing for the winter. Thousands of children benefit from this program each year.
7. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program provides one-on-one relationships to kids ages six to 17. These children are experiencing adversity and need a positive relationship in their lives. It also gives them access to a mentor who can help them navigate many of the challenges they face in their lives. As a Big you are matched to a Little for a scheduled activity or outing. Volunteers help kids throughout the year, but the holidays are always a trying time when Bigs are especially important.
8. Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity
The Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers to build homes for families in need. The overall mission is to end poverty housing in the community. Construction isn’t the only role they fill, however, the organization also needs help with administrative tasks, staffing special events, and to work at their thrift store, ReStore. This store provides gently used home improvement products. Store volunteers clean, sort, and organize items in the store and all proceeds from the store go to help with the Habitat’s mission.
9. Ronald McDonald House Charities Salt Lake City
If you are not familiar with The Ronald McDonald House and what they do every day then the holiday season is the perfect time to find out. The Salt Lake chapter of this organization provides support for families who are traveling to visit their seriously ill or injured children in hospitals in the Salt Lake City area. The program provides a place to stay and uses volunteers to prepare meals, help out at the front desk, and assist at special holiday events. While most of their programs have been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic they are still providing support to the families of high-acuity pediatric patients that need it including food and transportation.
10. Salvation Army
One sure sign of the approaching holiday season is the sight of the Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Ringers. This program solicits donations from the public in a unique way. Volunteer your time as a bell ringer and engage with the public as you spread joy and raise money for the needy. As people shop for presents for their loved ones they’ll be reminded of the good they can do for the less fortunate as well. The funds raised by bell ringers help support the organization throughout the year.