The holiday season is a good time to think about giving back – and not just because it’s the nice thing to do. At a time when companies are still obsessive about minimizing the risk of a bad hire, demonstrating good character can give your resume an important edge.
Maybe you’ve thought about volunteering before, but didn’t know whether you could fit it into a busy schedule. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to help out your community that don’t require tons of your free time. And they can be a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people.
- Cook in a kitchen for a homeless shelter. You don’t have to be a master chef to fit into this convenient volunteer job, which you can do around dinner time and be out in a couple hours. Most shelter kitchens use simple recipes with clear directions so that anyone can jump in and help on the fly. If can’t derive satisfaction out of feeding those who have nowhere to go on a cold winter night, remember this: You’ll probably get a free meal out of it.
- Participate in Toys For Tots. The Toys For Tots program, run by the U.S. Marine Corps to provide donated toys for children from low-income families, needs help sorting and wrapping toys this month. If you’d like to help make a kid’s Christmas, select the drop-off location nearest you and contact its staff directly.
- Volunteer at a senior center or nursing home. Social centers and assisted living facilities for the elderly typically need help organizing a number of special events during the holidays for all different kinds of winter celebrations. Some of the most common tasks include food and gift sorting and personal delivery, but you might be able to find some cooking opportunities as well.
- Lend your time to an addiction rehab center. This one usually requires a little bit of background verification and knowledge of chemical dependency and recovery,but it can be an especially effective resume-builder for people pursuing social work or psychology-related degrees. Recovering addicts sometimes need help making videos to document their journey,so media students should take notice as well. Reintegrating into society without the crutch of a long-standing addiction can be difficult at this time of year, when so many memories can distract recoverees from their goals. And it’s not one of the first places people think to help during the holidays, so your efforts should be particularly appreciated.
- Help a local church, mosque, synagogue or temple project. Even if you’re not a member (or even particularly religious), you might want to check to see what neighborhood faith centers are doing to help the needy around this time of year, as they often have the most local volunteer connections. Working with people of another religious affiliation might seem like an uncomfortable proposition at first, but experiences that challenge you to broaden your perspective are the surest way to make you a better communicator – and listener.
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