By Vicki Abraham
The holidays are often a time when we reflect on our year. Many will find that despite difficult circumstances, we have much to be grateful for. A roof over our head, food in the fridge, a job, family, time with friends, and good health.
Not everyone in our community is as fortunate and there are many ways we can help. Volunteering is a meaningful way to connect with community and offering hands-on help is most gratifying.
Bermuda’s hundreds of charities help vulnerable people year-round, and most need volunteers. While sustainable volunteerism with a longer-term commitment is generally preferred, most helping agencies will greet Christmas volunteers with a warm welcome.
The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is a sign that Christmas is upon us. It’s the oldest annual charitable fundraiser of its kind in the US and Canada, and Bermudian generosity rings loud too. The money raised is for vulnerable people and families and provides toys for kids, coats and blankets for homeless people, food for the hungry and year-round social service programmes.
As well as donating money, consider donating a few hours of your time. Christmas volunteering opportunities include the Red Kettle Campaign, preparing Christmas Hampers with groceries, and the Christmas Toy Programme. Last year over 4,000 adults and nearly 700 children benefited from bundles of Christmas groceries and toys from the Salvation Army.
Major Rob Kerr of The Salvation Army said: “We rely heavily on volunteers. From helping us raise money on the kettles, to the distribution of food and toys, we need many people. With kettles in various locations across Bermuda and toys and food being distributed in Hamilton, Somerset and St. George’s there is plenty of need for volunteers across our island.” Interested helpers can call 292-0601.
If you enjoy shopping, what about giving a helping hand at your favourite thrift store? You can expect to be busy assisting customers, keeping shelves and racks neat, being the cashier or packing bags.
Gail Correia, Word of Life Office Manager and volunteer recruiter for the Restart Thrift Store in Paget said “we are always looking for more volunteers. On selling days, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 10am-4pm, we need people to help in the store. On donation days, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10am-4pm, volunteers sort through the donations we’ve received.”
You may also be asked to wash and fold clothing and to display clothing, shoes, accessories, jewellery, children’s toys and table-top décor.
Restart Thrift Store is located at 16 Harvey Road in Paget, near Furniture Walk. Interested volunteers can contact Gail Correia at 232-9673 or email [email protected]
GIVING IS CARING
The Eliza DoLittle Society (TEDS) food pantry in Warwick provides nutritious fresh, frozen, and canned foods directly to clients. They welcome volunteers for packing groceries and for the front-facing role of intake, checking-in clients who receive the bags. Administration skills are also welcomed, to assist with data entry, filing or clerical tasks.
TEDS pantry is at 64 Middle Road, Warwick, directly across from the Warwick Bowl parking lot and they’re open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday 10am – 12.30pm. Interested volunteers can visit www.theelizadolittlesociety.bm
MEALS ON WHEELS
Meals on Wheels, which provides healthy meals for those in need, is a lifesaver for elderly and vulnerable people who often live alone. The charity requires a regular commitment from volunteers of at least one shift per week, although the shifts are short.
As a Meals on Wheels driver, you have an opportunity to interact, at a safe distance, with some recipients, an aspect most cherished by volunteers and recipients alike. Tasks and responsibilities vary according to preference and include meal preparation, pot washing, dispatch, delivery drivers or administration. Currently all volunteers, with the exception of drivers, are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Interested volunteers can contact 236- 1815 or [email protected] bm, or visit mealsonwheels.bm
Still deciding where to volunteer?
If you’re looking for a place to volunteer but you’re not sure what you want to do, a look at Bermuda Red Cross may help you decide. They offer several options:
Handy Person: Assess buildings and property for general upkeep, minor repairs and recommendations.
Disaster Management: Communications, psychological and social support, international tracing and family links, 1st triage and risk reduction.
Equipment Rental: Help customers to rent equipment, inventory, minor repairs, sanitise equipment.
Fundraising: Connecting with corporate donors requesting donations.
Golden Hour Club: Serve refreshments during gatherings and some set-up and break down.
Driver: Drive patients to and from appointments, pharmacy or grocery store. Offer additional assistance with getting in and out of the car, with light equipment.
Interested volunteers can apply online: https://bermudaredcross.com/volunteer-application/
Family Centre particularly depend on volunteers for special events and fundraising activities.
Their purpose is to develop and strengthen children, teens and their families by teaching coping skills needed to address mental health challenges, while also building resilience to better cope with life’s ups and downs.
Hannah Collins, Family Centre Fund Development Coordinator, said: “If you have time and flexibility and want to make a difference in the lives of young people and families, please contact us. We will look for opportunities to make good use of your skills and talents. Becoming a Family Centre volunteer is becoming an agent for positive change.”
Interested volunteers can call 232-1116, email [email protected] or visit www.tfc.bm.
For office staff, volunteering is a nice way to give back. Forego the corporate Christmas lunch and instead spend half a day helping at a feeding programme or making hampers for people in need. Approach the charity that appeals to your group and ask them to assign you meaningful work that will help them over the holidays.
There are many reasons why people volunteer. Whatever your reason, it’s even more enjoyable when you’re supporting a cause that’s close to your heart. The emotional reward is a feeling that money can’t buy. Think of it as a gift to yourself and if it goes well, you might even commit to a regular shift in the new year, for a continuous feel-good in 2022!