Christmas volunteering - a win win for businesses, staff and community organisations.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve organised festive volunteering opportunities for a number of companies who were eager to do something different to their usual Christmas party. Volunteers have packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, shared their digital skills with the older generation, and even dressed as elves to throw a Christmas party for Anchor care home residents.

All the volunteers found that by taking just a few hours out of their busy work schedules, they could make a meaningful impact to the lives of others, from bringing a smile to the face of someone who may be lonely at this time of year to helping someone learn to use Skype so they can talk to far away relatives on Christmas Day.

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I was impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers. Bericote Properties organised an incredible Christmas party at the British Museum for residents from a number of Anchor care homes. Dressed as elves, the volunteers greeted the residents and brought them into the museum. Throughout the day there was a range of entertainment including a magician and a performance from the Salvation Army band, as well as a delicious Christmas dinner. At the end of the day, the elves presented each guest with a small gift hamper. Their generosity was particularly appreciated by the Anchor staff who remarked that, for some of the residents, this would be the only Christmas gift they would receive.

Other teams of volunteers spent time in Anchor care homes across London baking mince pies, making Christmas decorations and doing puzzles with residents. 

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The most important aspect of these days was the time spent socialising with residents. In a busy care home, staff aren’t always able to have lengthy one to one conversations with the residents. Volunteers from Informa, Novo Nordisk and Workroom chatted to residents about everything from football to their experiences in World War II. A volunteer from Informa made a Chelsea themed Christmas card for football fan Charlie at one of the care homes. Charlie loved the card so much that he didn’t put it down even when eating his lunch. This really shows how valuable volunteers can be.

What struck me most when working with our volunteers is how kind-hearted and compassionate they were. It’s easy to become cynical, even at Christmas. But seeing volunteers making Christmas decorations and baking biscuits for care home residents and carefully packing shoeboxes with gifts to be sent to disadvantaged children across the world was truly heart-warming and a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.

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As well as being a fantastic way to give back to the community, Christmas volunteering offered a chance for the volunteers to socialise with their colleagues in a totally new setting, whilst also utilising a wide range of skills including team work, problem solving and empathy. Importantly, volunteering is also really great fun! From the minute the volunteers stepped into any of the Anchor care homes that we worked with this Christmas, there was always laughter to be heard. It’s a win-win situation for volunteers and our community partners.

But remember, volunteering isn’t just for Christmas. If you’d like to get your team volunteering contact Calley on 0203 111 0700 or calley@timebank.org.uk